A couple of months back, we took a look at the Z10, the first BlackBerry 10 running phone. While we felt the Z10 was overpriced here comes the Q10, the first QWERTY phone running BB10 which is priced even higher at Rs 45,000. We take a look and see if this phone can appeal to BlackBerry loyalist and also gain a few new customers.
In terms of design, the Q10 has been beautifully-crafted handset and is feels premium and nice to hold in the hand. The curved sides and edges give it good grip though you going to have to use two hands to use the keyboard comfortably. The aluminum frame along the side gives one the feeling of sturdiness. The QWERTY keyboard is almost edge-to-edge with decently large keys and is separated by metal bands. The keys have a slight contour to make each key distinguishable.
The Q10 has a microUSB and microHDMI port on one side, volume rocker on the others and a power/sleep button on the top. As with the Z10, we wish the micro USB was at the bottom so one could use it while charging.
The Q10 has three microphones for better noise cancellation. You find the speaker at the bottom and this helps when you place the phone on a table, as the audio does not get blocked out.
At the back, is the 8MP camera and a removable back cover (comes off easily). Under the cover one will find the battery, microSIM slot and a hot-swappable microSD card slot.
The 3.1-inch Super AMOLED display produces rich colors and deep blacks without going overboard. The sensitivity of the screen is pretty good.
The Q10 runs on BlackBerry 10. You can read our review of the BB10 operating system here. The phone does have the updated BlackBerry 10.1 OS which brings a few new features which include HDR mode for camera, the ability to edit APNs (Access Point Names), the ability to turn off alerts for specific applications, unlock the phone completely with just the power button and the ability to open installed apps directly through the store.
As we have said in our complete review, the UI is overall extremely fast and fluid with barely any slowdowns. BlackBerry Hub remains one of the top features of the OS, integrating all your communication into one place. This supports WhatsApp now.
The UI does have a bit of a learning curve but once you get a hang of it, it is a breeze.
While BB10 was built for a touch screen device it does face a few issues here.
Firstly, Swiping up from the bottom of the display to close an app on the Q10 is unintuitive and takes a bit of getting used to.
We loved the predictive text on the Z10 but that is switched off by default on the Q10. Even if you switch on predictive text, the gesture of flicking words upwards in a bit cumbersome with the row of keys just below it.
Also it would have been nice if there was a keyboard shortcut to return to the homescreen or open up BlackBerry Hub.
The Q10 has a 8 megapixel camera which like the Z10 camera did not live up to specifications. The shots lacked detail and at this price we definitely expected a better camera. The Q10 camera does not have many options like one finds in other high end smartphones these days. There is a time shift feature which allows you to choose the best frame and this works quite well.
One interesting feature in the Q10 camera is one could use the space bar to click a picture apart from clicking on the screen.
This is one place where BlackBerry is really lagging. BlackBerry World is growing too slowly and lacks a lot of the popular apps. Even Windows Phone 8 has more apps thanks to the push of Microsoft and Nokia. One will find basic apps but one cannot expect to find innovative apps on the platform just yet. The phone does come pre-installed with certain apps like Docs to Go, File Manager, Reminder, Print to Go, Dropbox as well as social apps like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare etc.
The performance of the Q10 was a mixed bag. While the keyboard experience is probably the best one can find, for people that have moved on to touchscreens a few years back might find readjusting a bit difficult.
The Q10 is powered by a TI OMAP 4470 SoC, which consists of a dual-core CPU running at 1.5GHz. The OS does perform really well and you are not going to find lags often. Call quality was really good and even in low network areas we managed to get good cell reception.
The phone comes with 2GB RAM, and 16GB of internal storage which expandable up to 32GB via a microSD card.
Battery life was something we were very happy with this phone. Keeping all our accounts synced, playing a few videos and checking and replying on social networks we were able to get through 36 hours comfortably. This is much more than one can expect with any other smartphone.
Thanks to the placement of the speaker audio quality was great and the media player was able to play most popular video formats like AVI, MKV and MP4. But unfortunately due to the small screen the experience though clear is not the best.
The web browser does a pretty good job of rendering web pages and is quite fast too. The browser does support flash.
While this is the one of the best QWERTY smartphone, the world does seem to have moved on from that phase. The OS is still too young and the lack of apps is concerning.
But the biggest problem will probably be the price. At Rs 45,000 we feel the device is highly overpriced. It does not have the features or the ecosystem to take on the heavy weights of the category and a pricing around Rs 32,000 would have been ideal to get the phone some users and developers developing for the platform.
The Q10 does come with unparalleled enterprise security features, but BlackBerry has announced Secure Work Space that would bring some of these features to iOS and Android. Also BBM which was unique to BlackBerry is expected to hit Android and iOS soon.
But if you’re someone who values a well built device with a brilliant communication hub and a keyboard is a must this is probably the phone for you otherwise at that price you could get a HTC One, a Samsung Galaxy S4 or an iPhone 5.
Recommended Read: BlackBerry Z10 Review