Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry has tried to bring back the glory of Qwerty keypads with BlackBerry Q10. The smartphone is based on BlackBerry’s latest BlackBerry 10 operating system, which comes with a lot of features.
The BlackBerry Q10 has a premium appeal at a premium price point of Rs 44,990. But is it really worth the price? Let’s find out.
Look and feel
The BlackBerry Q10, as the company describes, is a premium product and has been priced likewise. The device is very well designed.
The Q10 has a machined metal chassis carved out of a single piece of metal for durability; while special care has been taken in the selection of metal to make the device light as well. We received the white variant that misses out on the signature glass weave back panel, but the high-grade polycarbonate felt quite sturdy.
On the right side, the BlackBerry Q10 has volume controllers while on the top it has the power button – both metallic. The loudspeaker has been placed right at the bottom of the device while the 3.5 mm audio connector has been placed on top for easier access. Overall, the device is lightweight while its textured back has a good grip.
The keyboard, which is the highlight of BlackBerry Q10, has an excellent tactile feel. The keys are also big enough for easier typing. The key rows are straight with a silver strip above each row that gives the phone a classy look.
The BlackBerry Q10 comes with a 3.1 inch Super Amoled 720 x 720 pixel display with a density of 328 pixels per inch. The display is good for most tasks including watching HD videos. But even though everything is good, the odd aspect ratio might not be liked much. While playing videos, the display simply wastes a lot of real estate and videos that are already tiny look even tinier. The moment a video is played the top and bottom of the screen show these big black bands that happen due to wide screen videos being resized on a square screen.
The touchscreen on the other hand is quite responsive and actions are translated on the device without any effort or lag. The Q10 offers very high pixel density, which makes visuals lively and there is no pixilation anywhere, anytime. Sunlight legibility is also good due to higher contrast and brightness, plus the ambient light sensor works flawlessly offering great visuals all the time.
The BlackBerry Q10 comes packed with a dual core 1.4 GHz OMAP 4470 processor from Texas Instruments based on ARM cortex architecture and 2 GB of RAM. The hardware configuration, along with with the new age operating system, offers fluid operation and reduced application load time. The lack of a home screen and the adoption of swipe gestures for the user interface take some time to get used to but actually offer better performance and utility than having buttons on screen.
The BlackBerry Q10 comes with 16 GB on-board storage and an expandable slot for up to 64 GB micro SD. The Q10 also features an HDMI input for connecting the device to a large HDTV directly.
For wire-free connectivity the Q10 comes with Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC, which though it has been slow in terms of adoption, is a good feature to have for future.
Operating system and performance
The relatively new BlackBerry 10.1 OS makes the BlackBerry Q10 look good and perform well. Those who are worried about the big difference in the new OS 10 will hardly take a day to get used to the BlackBerry 10 OS.
In the BlackBerry Q10, the company has added a new Type and Go function. If users want to send an email to someone in the phonebook they just need to type ’email,’ followed by the Contact’s name and the device gives the option instantly.
A similar shortcut can be tried for the BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook or Twitter apps. Just type the app’s name and contact name to send the message to the user. You need to press through the different navigation levels for sending an email. Another visible change is that the Active Frames appear square instead of rectangular because of the smaller display.
The swipe functionality for the operating system and user interface works great but the space between the touchscreen and physical keypad has been kept too less. While using the device we ended up touching and pressing the upper-most row multiple times while all we needed was a clean upwards swipe.
Another highlight of the phone is the predictive input system, which was adopted for the BlackBerry Z10 and has been disabled by default for the Q10. Although having a physical keypad makes no sense having predictive input would save more time and as far as utility goes the touchscreen is anyway close enough for users to select words from the suggestions given on the screen.
The much talked about application store doesn’t feature many utility based applications for the Q10 specifically and the same old applications that were available for OS 7 based devices still exist as the top most preference.
Overall, the BlackBerry Q10 is a good device provided that applications are made available to unlock its full potential. The Q10 utilises optimisations done on the OS for better and more fluid performance. So it does not matter if it’s a dual core processor it justifies smooth and effective device usage as well.
Camera and multimedia
BlackBerry has used an 8 megapixel camera with auto focus and LED flash at the back. The camera is quite responsive and is the same unit as the one used on the BlackBerry Z10.
There is a 2 megapixel front facing camera for video chat and video calls via BBM but the camera interface does allow users to capture self-portraits with that or use it as per their need. The BlackBerry Q10 can record 1080p videos using the rear camera and 720p videos using the front camera. The image quality is good but it lacks sharpness, plus the square screen is really not meant for viewing pictures and video, which adds to the pain.
Yet, the camera justifies its presence with decent all round picture in good light conditions, while low light images are supplemented with LED flash. Video playback as we mentioned earlier is a nuisance and is better avoided on the BlackBerry Q10. Music playback on the other hand is good and the loudspeaker is one of the loudest in smartphones today. FM radio is still missing but hopefully upcoming BlackBerry models like the Q5 will come with it, as rumors have suggested.
Battery life and conclusion
One of the best features of the BlackBerry Q10 is its battery management system that ensures that the device does not run out of juice in the middle of the day. For average users the device would last anywhere from 1.5 to 2 days and for heavy users it would still manage to give about 1-1.5 days worth of backup.
But ultimately the BlackBerry Q10 is something BlackBerry fans were really waiting for though the price might turn off some of its fans. The device, without any doubt, has a premium appeal to it and offers NFC and HDMI along with core BlackBerry functionalities.
So, leaving price aside BlackBerry Q10 is a premium device with premium appeal and pricing as well, but to justify that BlackBerry Q10 offers a great Qwerty keypad, good but strange square-ish display, amazing battery life and features to keep you going for the next couple of years. The only snag is that it has very few applications.