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The BlackBerry Q10 is the first BlackBerry 10 phone with a physical keyboard. It stays true to the BlackBerry of years past and will attract BlackBerry fans all over who refuse to give up their real, physical keyboard. The Q10 combines the iconic form factor of older BlackBerry phones with a new, sleek design that is powered by the all-new BlackBerry 10 operating system.
The BlackBerry Z10 set the foundation for the BlackBerry software strategy for years to come, and the Q10 builds on it slightly with BlackBerry 10’s first significant update, OS 10.1. This operating system update features a number of enhancements specific to the physical keyboard design, including support for keyboard shortcuts. In addition to many of the legacy keyboard shortcuts being present, BlackBerry has also introduced Instant Action shortcuts to the homescreen experience, which compliment Universal Search results by allowing you to jump deeply into an application. Many of the native apps on the Q10 also take advantage of the new dark theme, which in addition to adding an extra touch of sex appeal to BlackBerry 10 also help maximize the Q10's battery life given its AMOLED display. A number of other updates further refine BlackBerry 10, including HDR mode in the camera and improvements to notifications.
On the enterprise front, 10.1 offers additional IT policies and controls for customers connected to BlackBerry Enterprise Server. This restores much of the utility of legacy BlackBerry handsets to businesses that need to have full control over their employees’ devices. This primarily means disabling features and tracking user activity, which is a requirement of big enterprise and government installations. This is an important milestone for the new BlackBerry 10 OS - it's the feature set the corporate world was waiting for before they could begin upgrading their fleets.
The Q10 will roll out globally, launching first in the UK before the end of April. In the U.S. market, the Q10 is priced to be available from carriers at a suggested price of $249 on contract and be available by the end of May. Keep it locked to CrackBerry for more info as carriers lock in pricing and release dates.
Get your thumbs ready for the Q10...
While the Q10 hardware stays true to BlackBerry’s classic design, the BlackBerry 10 software breaks free from the legacy BlackBerry OS and brings an entirely new look and feel for BlackBerry users.
If you're coming from an older BlackBerry, you'll find BB10 runs amazingly smooth. As a whole package, the BlackBerry Q10 is very clearly geared towards loyal BlackBerry users that have stuck with the device because they live and die by physical keyboards. The Z10 led the way to show the world that BlackBerry could duke it out with other all-touch heavyweights in the smartphone world rather than being an afterthought to the QWERTY experience, as BlackBerry's previous all-touchscreen devices had been. Now that the Z10 has set that foundation, the Q10 is for the rest of us keyboard diehards.
While the Q10 hardware stays true to BlackBerry’s classic design, the BlackBerry 10 software breaks free from the legacy BlackBerry OS and brings an entirely new look and feel for BlackBerry users.
The BlackBerry Q10 is going to be hugely popular. With 70+ million existing BlackBerry users loving their physical keyboards, the Q10 will be an easy upgrade as it hits local carriers around the globe. There are literally no alternatives on this front - the competition has adopted wholesale the all-touch form factor, leaving BlackBerry to be the one place to go for folks that need real keys under their thumbs, even if that demand will peter off in the long run. Though it will be easy for legacy BlackBerry users to get comfortable with the Q10’s keyboard, there’s plenty that’s new here that will take some adjustment. The big thing is that the classic navigation keys and trackpad are gone. It will take some retraining of the muscle memory to get used to using gestures instead of clicking keys to get around.
Traditionally, the QWERTY holdouts have been business users that pound out e-mails day-in and day-out that have to have impeccable spelling, but also enough battery power to get through a full, busy day. Between the smaller screen and the biggest battery in a BlackBerry to date, the BlackBerry Q10 promises to perform for the long haul, especially for those that don't have the luxury of sitting down for a mid-day charge. Ultimately, the BlackBerry Q10 is a device ripe with familiarity, but full of modern, fast performance thanks to the new BlackBerry 10 operating system and upgraded internal hardware.
Watch CrackBerry's Q10 podcast review
Rather watch than read this review? Check out our supplemental podcast below!
BlackBerry Q10 Hardware Review
BlackBerry Q10 Review Unit Unboxing
Our BlackBerry Q10 review unit came in another awesome package from BlackBerry. Inside the purple-themed box we found the Q10, spare battery, USB charging block, sync/charge cable, external battery charger, premium stereo headset and assorted manuals. Keep in mind most of these extras won't be in any retail boxes but for the purpose of the review we were happy to have them. Check out our full unboxing video below.Q10 review unit came in another awesome package from BlackBerry. Inside the purple-themed box we found the Q10, spare battery, USB charging block, sync/charge cable, external battery charger, premium stereo headset and assorted manuals. Keep in mind most of these extras won't be in any retail boxes but for the purpose of the review we were happy to have them. Check out our full unboxing video below.
BlackBerry Q10 Features and Specs
The Q10 is sporting a 3.1-inch 720 x 720 display at 330 pixels per inch. For comparison's sake, the Z10 display is 4.2 inches and 1280 x 768, which works out to 355 PPI, while the iPhone 5 is 4 inches and 326 PPI at 1136 x 640. While the display sharpness on the Q10 is right up there with the best of them, you will be taking a bit of a knock in size for the sake of a physical keyboard, especially if you're putting it against massive 5-inch screens you're seeing in the Android world.
The Q10 is riding high above any previous BlackBerry OS devices when it comes to specs however. Packed inside is a dual-core 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and 2 GB of RAM with 16 GB of internal storage. There is an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with auto-focus (yes, no more EDOF) and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera. LTE, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, NFC - they're all here as well. Of course the highlights are the 3.1-inch 720 x 720 SuperAMOLED display and the full QWERTY physical keyboard.
You'll be getting some amazing battery life on the Q10
One of the big things that sticks out here for us is the size of the Q10 battery. Coming in at 2100 mAh, this guy is far bigger than any battery we’ve seen in a BlackBerry to date. When you figure that the battery on the Bold 9900 is only 1230 mAh and the Z10 battery is 1800 mAh, you know that you'll be getting some amazing battery life on the Q10.
BlackBerry Q10 Hardware First Impressions
The BlackBerry Q10 feels strikingly familiar when you first pick it up. It has the classic BlackBerry design with a physical keyboard nested below a sizeable screen. While we love the BlackBerry Z10, there is something about picking up a smooth BlackBerry with a keyboard that feels just right. The rear is constructed of a light-but-tough glass weave with a matte finish, while the outside frame is a cool and sturdy steel. The device itself feels solid, strong and will no doubt stand up to the trials of everyday use.
The front the Q10 screams BlackBerry. Under the 720 x 720 touchscreen display sits a full QWERTY physical keyboard that is just itching to be put to the test.
The right side of the device is sporting the volume control buttons while the left has the micro USB sync/charge port as well as a new micro HDMI out port for connecting the Q10 to a TV or external display.
On the top sits the familiar lock / standby / power button while the speaker opening is on the bottom.
The Q10 will be available in both black and white versions - the differences being only that the white model has a slightly different backing (more on that later). Feast your eyes on the galleries below.
BlackBerry Q10 Black Hardware Gallery
BlackBerry Q10 White Hardware Gallery
BlackBerry Q10 Appearance and Design
Let’s take a closer look around the device. First off, on the left side is a micro USB port and micro HDMI port. They’re higher up than they were on the Z10, which is great - now you can have everything plugged in without it interfering with your typing. This was a big issue on some older BlackBerry phones so we’re happy to see that the position has been moved up.
The biggest physical difference is the missing trackpad and navigation keys
On the right side, you have the hardware media control keys - volume up, down and mute. These are pretty much identical in styling to the Z10 - they're eye-catching metal, and feel distinct when adjusting blindly. On the top is a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack, a standby on/off key, and two noise cancelation microphone ports. On the bottom is a single speaker port and primary microphone. Sorry, no charging contacts here. That's likely to save on manufacturing costs. It looks like any charging dock you get (if there are any available) will have to use USB. The front face is dominated by the display and backlit keyboard. Above, there’s a speaker, sensor array, notification LED, and front-facing camera. On the back, you’ll find little more than the camera and LED flash.
It’s obvious looking at the Q10 that it’s more closely related in design to the Bold 9900 than the Z10, and that was a conscious decision on BlackBerry’s part to maintain a sense of familiarity. The biggest physical difference is the missing trackpad and navigation keys (menu, back, send, and end buttons) which consequently made it unnecessary to have a curved keyboard to accommodate them. Still, the layout is largely familiar, and that’s a testament to the staying power of a design that was established as far back as the BlackBerry 8800 in 2007 (though it was realistically nailed down with the Bold 9000 in 2008). The last major flagship device from BlackBerry along this vein was the Bold 9900, launched in 2011, which still looks great today.
The Q10 definitely feels like a BlackBerry. It has the classic design and solid build quality. The edge-to-edge glass on the front display fits really tightly within the frame. The frets between the rows of keys, the way each key has an arc to catch thumbs, and the overall shape are all hallmarks of BlackBerry design. It’s a little bit longer than the Bold 9900, and only 9 grams heavier - enough to give that solid tool-like feel in the hand. The outer metal band hearkens back to the Bold 9900, and feels decidedly different compared to the composite, steel-reinforced frame of the Z10. You will find eye-catching metal bands through the keyboard frets which are a bit wider than before and angle downwards at the outside edges of the device.
The Q10 definitely feels like a BlackBerry. It has the classic design and solid build quality
There’s also a new band around the rear below the camera. The rear fret actually raises the device slightly, so that it stays stable when laying flat and makes sure the camera and rear surface don't get scratched up. The domed, unified rear has an altogether new feel, while (in the black model, at least) still incorporating the same glass weave material that BlackBerry's been using for awhile now. The white BlackBerry Q10 sticks with the divot style of rear that was employed with the BlackBerry Z10, though it’s slightly harder than the Z10 to ensure blue jean dye doesn’t rub off on it. In terms of construction, the BlackBerry Q10 is as tightly built as anything BlackBerry has made in the past, and feels like it could weather a long life of steady usage.
Q10 Touchscreen Display
Though smaller than what you'll get on the BlackBerry Z10, the Q10's touchscreen is effectively just as sharp (technically, the Z10 crams in a few more pixels per inch). The AMOLED screen on the Q10 shows off BlackBerry 10 in all of its glory. It is bold and bright and looks sharp from edge to edge. Now, the switch to SuperAMOLED is significant; until now, most BlackBerry users were accustomed to LCD screens. Though there have been many debates on AMOLED versus LCD, the bottom line is that AMOLED uses up less power and less physical space. The main difference is that LCDs activate individual pixels to block out a single backlight, while each pixel on an AMOLED screen emits its own light. Because AMOLED creates blacks simply by turning off individual pixels, we found the Q10 made for much stronger blacks than the Z10, though LCD has an edge on whites and visibility in direct sunlight. On that note, the dark themes included in OS 10.1 look fantastic on the Q10 and save you battery life to boot.
A low-light test between the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S3, iPhone 5, BlackBerry Q10, BlackBerry Bold 9900 and BlackBerry Z10. You can see here how the Q10 screen stacks up to other devices in terms of whiteness and brightness.
While the Q10’s display comes in at only 720 x 720 (unlike the larger 1280 x 768 of the Z10) there is still plenty of working room to get things done - the one exception being the bottom bezel. There is only a small area between the keyboard and touchscreen to perform the bezel gestures, so some might find it a bit hard until they get adjusted. It didn’t take us too long to get the hang of it, but using the Android app back gesture (swipe diagonally to the left from the bottom bezel) seemed to just close the app more often than not. Again, a bit of a learning curve but overall no big complaints here.
The true test for the any display is to pick it up and use it, and that's exactly what we've been doing with the Q10. Colors are extremely vibrant - anybody we've let handle our Q10 tends to remark this.
Q10 Keyboard Review
The keyboard on the BlackBerry Q10 is nearly identical to that of the BlackBerry Bold 9900 but with a few exceptions. The individual keys on the BlackBerry Q10 are significantly bigger than what they were on the Bold 9900 series. Rather than the slight curved layout of the Bold 9900/9930, the keyboard now sits completely straight. Though that classic "smile" always felt fairly ergonomic, it's been removed since the navigation array (trackpad, menu, back, and phone buttons) isn’t there anymore. The P’9981 had a similar squared-off grid layout to the keys, but they were significantly harder to press by comparison. The Q10’s keys sit noticeably lower than those on the 9900, which some may prefer, but on the whole we were really happy with how it felt. There are still metal frets between each row of keys that provide separation between rows and gives a bit of contrast to the otherwise solid front of the device.
The BlackBerry Q10 has the most comfortable physical keyboard you will find on the smartphone market
The layout of the keys stays true to BlackBerry styling - a full set of QWERTY keys as well as both right and left shift buttons, an ALT key and a symbol key. The keys feel great and are very responsive. After typing on the Q10 for a while we fell right back into our old ways. The only real functional addition to the keyboard is the voice activation shortcut from the 0 key. Aside from that, the keyboard doesn't really bring anything new to the table, but that's okay with us. After all, the Bold 9900 keyboard was definitely our favorite to date and the Q10 looks to be right up there, if not better thanks to the increased size per key.
We’re also happy to see that keyboard shortcuts play a big role on the Q10 (as they should). Instant Action is a big part of the Q10 experience - it allows you to perform tasks much more quickly than tapping around to find what you need. Want to send a BBM? Start typing “BBM Kevin” and the Q10 shows the option to compose a new BBM to Kevin. So, rather than going to the BBM app or jumping into BBM via the Hub, you can quickly type out what you want to do and you’re off.
There are over 200 keyboard shortcuts scattered throughout BlackBerry 10.1, many of which you can see referenced directly in the system menus. This is huge, because many of the handiest keyboard shortcuts were never discovered by more casual users. These can help you get around much more quickly, such as hitting the N key in the Hub to hop down to the next message, or the Delete key to trash a message (rather than digging through a context menu). Saving these few seconds on common tasks every day will quickly add up to minutes saved, and help turn you into a productivity machine.
It goes without saying that the BlackBerry Q10 has the most comfortable physical keyboard you will find on the smartphone market. Sure, the stereotypical businessperson will appreciate the ease with which they can shoot out an e-mail, but women with longer nails have long had issues with touchscreens, and will be just as happy to get their thumbs on some real buttons again.
Let's put it this way: if you’re a physical keyboard person, you’re going to love the Q10. Period.
What about buttons and trackpad?
Of course there is no getting around the fact that the Q10 has no trackpad or navigation buttons. We’ve all been big fans of the trackpad since it first popped up on the Curve 8530 and it’s been a huge part BlackBerry devices since. Honestly, not having it does seem a bit odd at first. I found myself constantly reaching for the back button more times than I’d like to admit and there were plenty of “oh shit” moments when I aimed for the trackpad only to tap the screen instead. In short, it’s a learning process. If you’ve been a long-time BlackBerry user you’ll want the buttons and trackpad to be there, but they aren’t. As we found however, after you use the device for any length of time you should be able to adjust to the lack of buttons and trackpad. It’s definitely worth the couple of days it takes to get used to the new layout. Keep in mind that BlackBerry 10.1 introduces new cursor tools to make it easier to select text without a trackpad.
Another part of this situation is using the device one-handed. The trackpad made it very easy to get around, but don’t worry! The Q10 works perfectly fine in one hand, though those with smaller hands might have some issues.
Typing on Q10
Typing on the BlackBerry Q10 rocks as much as you'd expect. The Bold 9900 keyboard totally blew us away and was like typing on air. As for the Q10, the typing experience remains true to BlackBerry.
The keys on the Q10 provide for easy typing and we had no issues cranking out long e-mails or simple short messages
The keys on the Q10 provide for easy typing and we had no issues cranking out long e-mails or simple short messages. Even with bigger hands, most users should have no problem finding keys and hitting the proper ones. As you learn, muscle memory takes over as well so you can speed along for any typing tasks with no issues.
Selecting or navigating text on the Q10 is actually very easy as well. When you tap on the screen a small “selector” pops up and lets you move the cursor where you need it. It’s been refined a bit for OS 10.1 and is now much larger and easier to control. The cool thing is that in addition to dragging it where you need to, you can also tap on the left or right side of the tool and it moves the cursor one character to the left or right. This makes selecting and editing text on the Q10 super easy and definitely makes up for the precision a trackpad would provide. It’s worth noting that this feature was also available on the Z10, but wasn’t quite as obvious. 10.1 introduces the ability to tap up or down on the circle to move the cursor up and down rows.
Instant Action is a new feature on the BlackBerry Q10 and OS 10.1. It is essentially the best of keyboard shortcuts and Universal Search put together. Instant Action lets you start typing an action and will in turn provide a menu with suggestions of where to go next. If you want to search you can simply start typing your search term. If you want to send a BBM, start typing "BBM Adam" and you'll be one tap away from composing a BBM.
This is one feature that we're totally falling in love with. It gives you quick, easy access to any number of tasks and actions you want to perform on the Q10 and they are always just a few keystrokes away.
There are a slew of actions you can perform here and we'll have the full list for you shortly - stay tuned.
Q10 Camera Review
The BlackBerry Q10 is sporting an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera with new HDR mode, auto-focus (so long EDOF!) and 1080p video recording. For those unfamiliar, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. In this mode, the camera takes multiple shots at various exposure levels and laces them together. This ensures that you get a complete picture - bright backgrounds don’t get blown out, and darker areas aren’t unrecognizable splotches.
On the front is a 2 megapixel camera with 720p video recording - something we’ve been wanting on this form factor of BlackBerry for YEARS. It’s great for BBM Video Chat, and Skype video calling! And selfies of course.
The camera is readily available and can be launched by either the camera app icon or the quick launch icon on the bottom of the home and lock screens. It starts up quickly with near-zero lag so taking photos in a pinch isn’t an issue. What’s notable here as well is that the shutter sound is much shorter and softer than that of the Z10 (though that may be an OS 10.1 thing).
For shooting modes you’ll find Normal, Stabilization and Burst. Scenes gives you Auto, Action, Whiteboard, Night and Beach or Snow. The mode change icon between still, video, and Time Shift shooting has been moved to the bottom of the camera app for easier and less confusing access.
While the Z10 offers up 4:3 and 16:9 aspect rations for photos, the Q10 also adds 1:1 to the mix to match its own screen ratio.
As for post-processing, the built-in Photo Editor app now includes improved red- and gold-eye reduction - very handy for those low-light portraits where you need to use a flash.
Overall the camera on the Q10 is great. It’s light years beyond that of the older devices and especially the admittedly crappy EDOF camera on the Bold 9900/9930. To test out the camera on the Q10, we put it head-to-head with the Z10, Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, iPhone 5 and Canon Mark III DSLR. The photos are very much on par with the competitors. Check out the results below from some shots in Times Square.
BlackBerry Q10 Photo Comparison
BlackBerry Q10 Photo Samples
We also snapped a few random shots to get a feel for just how photos look when taken on the Q10. Overall we were very impressed with the results. Check out a few sample images below.
Q10 Video Recording
As mentioned in the above, the BlackBerry Q10 comes loaded with an 8 megapixel camera that is capable of capturing up to 1080p videos. We put it to the test using only 720p and were quite pleased with the results given it's still just a smartphone that's doing the capturing. As seen in the video above, picture quality was clear and the audio, even with the noisy background of being on a roof in New York City, was handled with grace. In short, it'll do the trick for most folks for capturing those quick moments.
Q10 as a phone
There's not much to be said on the phone options for the Q10 that hasn't been said before. There’s nothing fancy but you still have everything you need. The phone screen gives you three panes for call history, contacts and dialer.
New in BlackBerry 10.1 is the ability to cut, copy, and paste phone numbers into and from the dialer screen as well.
The physical keyboard also now allows users to set keys for speed dial, as on legacy BlackBerry devices. This isn’t enabled by default however; users need to flip it on through the Phone settings, but after that, you can make it so that long-pressing a key initiates a call to a designated contact.
Overall the Q10 just feels like a BlackBerry when on the phone - the weight is good, it fits well in-hand and sound quality is top notch, helped in no small part to the twin noise-cancelling microphones at the top. We did a few tests and everything is on par with what you’d expect here. Just like the BlackBerry Z10, the BlackBerry Q10 is capable of HD Voice when and where it is supported by your carrier. As this was an AT&T unit, it wasn't available for testing.
We should note that the microphone is on the bottom of the phone now as opposed to the front. It’s a small change but nothing concerning really.
The Q10 is an 4G-enabled device so if you have LTE in your area then you’re in luck. Having LTE makes the device fly when on the web and it really does make a difference. We ran a speed test at CB HQ in New York and had pretty good results overall.
Other BlackBerry Q10 Essentials
The Q10 battery comes in at 2100 mAh - that's 16% bigger than 1800 mAh Z10 battery and over 70% bigger than the 1230 mAh battery of the Bold 9900. With the smaller screen size, dark theme option and other tweaks in the Q10 OS, we expect the battery life to be more than sufficient for both average and power users alike.
While we've been able to put the Q10 through the paces for this review, we haven't had the chance to knock out a "real world" test of the battery just yet. What we can say is that the battery life here is awesome. Even with our constant use of the Q10, the battery has held up strong and made us proud.
What we can say is that the battery life here is awesome
Of course if you're a crazy power user there is always the option to swap out the battery if need be. The Q10 Battery Charger Bundle is the key accessory for this. You can keep a spare battery charged so it's always ready to go and you can swap it out when you need to stay charged. If you just need a quick boost you can even plug the charger right into your Q10 with the attached micro USB cable so you don't have to waste time changing batteries and waiting on a reboot.
Beyond all of that, there’s one more noteworthy change with the battery. You know how when you do a battery pull on a BlackBerry device, it automatically boots back up when you pop the battery back in? Not so anymore. From now on, starting with the Q10, whenever you do that, you’ll have to hit the power button to turn your BlackBerry back on. This change won’t be coming to the Z10, but it’s worth keeping in mind for the future.
The Q10 has 2 GB of built-in RAM to keep things going. There is nothing holding back and moving around in apps, playing games and flowing through the homescreen and Hub are all super smooth.
With 16 GB of internal storage there is plenty of space for apps and games as well as a good amount of room for your media files. If you want to load up on photos or video you’ll want to throw in a microSD card for added storage. The Q10 supports cards up to 64 GB so you should have plenty of room for your extra media. If you go this route you’ll want to grab something Class 4 or higher so you can use it for 1080p videos as well.
The Q10 has Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n with mobile hotspot. You can connect up to eight devices with the hotspot feature, so long as it’s enabled on your carrier plan. We ran a few tests on the Q10 and devices connected without a hitch and ran great on LTE.
Don’t forget DLNA support either. It’s an underrated feature that allows you to easily connect to other DLNA-supported devices to stream music and video out to TVs, stereo systems, and other supported outlets. For something more straightforward, you can plug the microHDMI plug right into your TV for flawless mirroring of exactly what’s on your screen.
BlackBerry Q10 Accessories
There are some great BlackBerry Q10 accessories available for purchase. Of course top honors go to the BlackBerry Q10 Battery Charger Bundle. Now, don’t take this to mean that the Q10 battery isn’t great - it is - we just feel you can never be too prepared when it comes to staying charged.
Other favorites include the BlackBerry Premium Stereo Headset, BlackBerry Mini Speaker for on-the-go audio, the BlackBerry Leather Pocket Pouch and the BlackBerry Leather Holster. Of course you can find all of the latest BlackBerry Q10 accessories at ShopCrackBerry.com
BlackBerry OS 10.1 Impressions
The Q10 is very impressive overall. From the minute you pick it up it just feels great in the hand. It has all the features you want in a new device and there is no more worry about lag, hourglassing, or battery pulls. On the Z10 we knocked it a bit for battery life and camera, but on the Q10 if you go that route it’s almost like nitpicking. If you’re a BlackBerry fan and want a physical keyboard device then the performance of the Q10 is as good as it gets. It’s the traditional BlackBerry experience on steroids.
Q10 UI, Homescreen and Flow
We have a full run-down of what BlackBerry 10 is all about here, but there are a few big themes we can go through here. Home screens are arranged in a horizontal strip. Starting on the left is the Hub, where messages come in from all sorts of sources - e-mail, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, and plenty of others. You can access the Hub from anywhere by swiping up and to the right, or just take a quick peek at incoming notifications by swiping up without releasing your finger from the screen.
The next screen after the Hub is the multitasking screen where up to eight apps are actively running in a minimized state. These Active Frames can often show important information without needing to be launched. Beyond the multitasking window is your classic icon grid, compete with folders. The big key to BlackBerry 10 is the move to a gesture-based interface. So, to get back to the home screen, you swipe up from the bottom of the display rather than hit some kind of home button.
The Q10 has a unique navigation dynamic in that you can get around using both the touchscreen gestures as well as keyboard shortcuts. While older devices like the Bold 9900 allowed for navigation with the trackpad and/or touchscreen, on the Q10 you have no trackpad. The keyboard shortcuts have been expanded to include the more complex Instant Action, so rather than just hitting one key to open an app, you can start typing to get where you want to go. It's kind of a keyboard shortcut/Universal Search mashup.
The icons display on the homescreen in rows of four and almost look too big for the screen. They would maybe be a better fit if they were proportionately the same size as the Z10 and fit five to each row.
Active Frames, which inhabit a home screen as minimized views of apps that are currently running, look a little more funky than they do on the Z10. They’ve been crunched down a little bit in order to fit within the BlackBerry Q10’s smaller display. It would still be great to see the ability to pin certain apps to the top, so that these apps can stay on all the time for either functions to work or simply stay visible. Once you have more than eight apps open, the least active ones start getting closed, which can be a major pain to manage for heavy-duty multitaskers. Otherwise, I'm not even sure I use Active Frames.
The BlackBerry Hub is one of the biggest features of BlackBerry 10. In essence the Hub is the landing platform for all of your incoming communications, and is much more than a simple notification tray. All of your e-mail, SMS, BBM, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn messages will come into the Hub. You do have the option to choose what you see here however and can also toggle between single views (i.e. just e-mail or BBM) at any time.
The Hub is easily accessible from anywhere on the device - the homescreen, in apps - no matter where you are. It’s one of the great things about BlackBerry 10. Say you’re in the calendar adding an appointment and need to check an e-mail, simply swipe up and pull to the right to view the Hub. From there you can take action on any number of items.
While many native apps on the BlackBerry Q10 receive the dark theme treatment, this is one part of the OS that BlackBerry has left using the white theme. When it comes to reading long emails, white is the standard (think Outlook, Gmail, etc.), so they left this area as is.
E-mail, Contacts and Calendar
BlackBerry 10 supports pretty much any e-mail service you want to throw at it including Gmail, Yahoo!, Outlook.com, Exchange ActiveSync, IMAP and POP. BlackBerry does the hard work on setup so in most cases you just need to enter your e-mail login and password and you’re good to go. A handy addition in BlackBerry 10.1 is the ability is to look up e-mails beyond the last 30 days for ActiveSync accounts. That feature is coming soon to IMAP and POP accounts.
Another nice addition in BlackBerry 10.1 is the ability to view e-mails which have been attached to other e-mails - a small but important feature for many corporate environments. When composing a new e-mail, you now gets suggestions for contacts within your address book. Pin to pin messaging has also been folded into the Hub now.
For contacts and calendar you can easily add from nearly any source thanks to Exchange ActiveSync, CardDAV and CalDAV. The setup is very straight forward and getting up and running is a breeze. You can similarly just add these in to the basic e-mail setup and they will populate as well.
The notifications on the Q10 get a bit of an upgrade thanks to OS 10.1. You now have the ability to add more customized alerts for individual contacts. BlackBerry 10.1 allows you to add a custom phone ringtone, message tone and even BBM tone for your contacts (SMS is oddly missing still). You can also change the vibration sequence - so for example you can have your device vibrate five times for your spouse and once for your boss. You can also set it so that the volume keys adjust ringer volume instead of media volume now (which is the way it should have been from the start).
BlackBerry has always been tops when it comes to security, and the Q10 is no different. They have now bundled all of the on-device security features under an umbrella dubbed BlackBerry Safeguard. Now features like BlackBerry Protect, parental controls, private browsing, device password and even application permission fall under this new roof.
Essentially the settings and features here aren’t anything we haven’t seen before.
Q10 Web Browser
The browser on the Q10 does its job well. You obviously are sacrificing screen size on this device, but the browser window still packs in a good amount of viewing. You can navigate around on the touchscreen and the pinch-to-zoom feature is there as well. The BlackBerry 10 browser is one of the best there is and on the Q10 it works like a champ. Flash support is still included, though you have to manually turn it on. Luckily, the browser will give you the option with a pop-up when you visit a Flash-heavy site.
BBM is bigger and better on BlackBerry 10. With BBM Video, BBM Voice and screen sharing, it really is an amazing tool. It’s the BlackBerry Messenger you know and love and there really isn’t much more to it. BlackBerry has worked hard to make sure that BBM stays at the top of its game and you can really see that on BlackBerry 10. The Q10 is the perfect tool for showcasing BlackBerry Messenger - the physical keyboard lets you message all day and a simple tap can get you using BBM Voice or BBM Video with the front-facing camera. We like the dark theme in here too. We’ve been waiting for this experience for a long time.
BlackBerry Link is the desktop software that allows users to sync up and transfer data from their device to their PC. Link will soon be updated to allow local syncing with Outlook, which was in high demand following the launch of the BlackBerry Z10.
Currently you can use BlackBerry Link to backup and restore device data as well as update your OS. Link also has a selection of document and media sync options for videos, photos, music and other files.
BlackBerry Content Ecosystem
Though you’re no doubt picking up a BlackBerry Q10 because you value communication above all else, of course you’ll find all of your app and game needs fulfilled thanks to BlackBerry World. The store now has over 100,000 apps and games available for BlackBerry 10, though not all have yet been updated for the Q10. You will find plenty of top apps Q10 ready such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, USA Today, foursquare and NY Times.
The new 1:1 aspect ratio on the BlackBerry Q10 display means that there will be a little bit of a delay for apps to be updated, particularly for games. A lot of apps have come to BlackBerry 10 since the Z10 was released, and momentum has kept up; Skype is now available in beta on the Q10, which is bound to make a lot of users happy, and there’s still plenty more to come.
Also new for OS 10.1 is the addition of promo codes in BlackBerry World. While this doesn't mean much to the average consumer, it will prove very handy for developers to give out their apps and may also lead us to BlackBerry World gift cards down the road (we can dream, right?)
A relatively new addition to BlackBerry World is the availability of music, movies and TV shows. In the past, BlackBerry users had to go through several different sources to get videos or music on their devices. Now however, BlackBerry has teamed up with 7digital and Rovi to power BlackBerry World for music and videos respectively.
BlackBerry has quite a stock of movies, TV shows and new music so you’ll find a hefty selection of media that can be purchased through your BlackBerry World account and downloaded to your device. Though there’s still no book storefront integrated with BlackBerry World, Kindle recently found its way to BB10 and should have you covered. There's also a separate BlackBerry-made app for buying digital magazines.
Third Party Apps and Games
BlackBerry World's BB10 selection has exploded since the launch of the Z10, but there's a pretty significant challenge ahead for the Q10. The unique square aspect ratio of the display makes adapting many apps unlikely and unfeasible. Luckily BlackBerry has a unique set of developer tools and SDKs that make porting existing apps and creating news ones a breeze for developers.
We should note here as well that a beta of Skype was available on our review unit.
It *should* be on the Q10 at launch and follow shortly for the Z10 as well. It's available now in BlackBerry World for the BlackBerry Q10. Overall it's working well in our initial testing and we're glad to see it's finally here. The entire Mobile Nations team are big Skype users.
If you can't find an app you want in BlackBerry World, you do always have the option to sideload Android applications. While the process isn't foolproof and some apps may not run properly, it's always worth a shot. Check out all of our Android app sideloading tutorials for more on that.
BlackBerry Q10 Review Closing Thoughts - Love keyboard, will upgrade!
A lot of users went out and bought the BlackBerry Z10 on day one, but the Q10 promises to be much more attractive to BlackBerry’s 78 million-odd established users that have been rocking physical keyboards for some time now. The Q10 will without a doubt be a cash cow for BlackBerry as it continues addressing this market - one that every other smartphone manufacturer seems to have abandoned.
This is a modern day smartphone with a keyboard that people will be PROUD to carry
For the most part, the BlackBerry Q10 is a form factor play; the specs and platform match the BlackBerry Z10 very closely. Those who want a full touchscreen experience should opt for the Z10. And those who love their physical keyboard and can't make the transition to touchscreen typing should definitely pick up the Q10. It feels absolutely great to use and will be an easy transition for those making the leap from a legacy BlackBerry. Beyond the typing accuracy and shortcuts afforded by a physical keyboard, the BlackBerry Q10 also has a gigantic battery, which may even be a bigger deal for a lot of people. Being able to coast through a full day without having to worry about fiddling with screen brightness or LTE connectivity is an absolute luxury in a world full of slim big-screen smartphones.
It’s a BlackBerry. It’s got the look of a BlackBerry. The feel of a BlackBerry. We may be living in a world of full touchscreen phones, but this is a modern day smartphone with a keyboard that people will be PROUD to carry, use and show off. BlackBerry is back baby!
BlackBerry Q10 Review Summary
- Classic BlackBerry design updated for BlackBerry 10
- Physical keyboard is still awesome
- Battery life is the best ever on a BlackBerry
- Dark theme adds a welcome touch of sex appeal to the BlackBerry OS
- Smaller display may not be for everyone
- Some users may miss the trackpad and buttons
If you love your physical keyboard BlackBerry then the Q10 is for you - no question. If you're a BlackBerry fan but want to step things up, you may opt for the BlackBerry Z10 or even hold out to see what new devices come down the road. Overall we couldn't be more pleased with the BlackBerry Q10.
Related Q10 Review Links
Note: This BlackBerry Q10 review features contributions by Adam Zeis, Chris Parsons and Simon Sage. We'll all be following up soon with tons more Q10 content! Keep it locked to crackberry.com/q10 for tons more!