BlackBerry has returned to its knitting with the keyboard-equipped Q10, which is great on the surface but a dog's breakfast underneath.
What Is It?
The BlackBerry Q10 is a return to keyboarded-form for the ailing Canadian handset maker. It sports the shiny, new BlackBerry 10 operating system, a 3.1-inch SuperAMOLED display with a 720×720 resolution and 360 pixels per inch, as well as 2GB of RAM, a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 16GB of internal memory and an eight-megapixel rear-facing camera.
The main draw-card of the Q10 is also its best feature: the physical keyboard.
On the mainstream smartphone scene right now, you can't get a phone with a physical keyboard. It's impossible. Can't be done. The only phone out there for you tactile fanboys is the Q10. That makes it the best physical keyboard on the market by default, which is a bit unfair considering how good it actually is.
You can keep your Swype-integration, your Android keyboards and the iOS keyboard, because BlackBerry still has the best text-entry hardware on the market. Keyboards are what these guys do best, and they're still killing it. It takes a few minutes to get back into the physical keyboard scene, but once you're used to it, text entry becomes a breeze. It really is this handset's killer feature.
The Q10 is a dream from the outside. It's styled like a beautiful sports car for the young professional wanting a little bit of luxury. Jet black with silver accents, complete with carbon fibre on the back of the handset. Gorgeous.
We don't often talk about accessories in our reviews, but the stand-out bit of kit you need for your Q10 is an external battery charger. It plugs into either your phone or a microUSB cable and charges a spare battery pack. Because you're likely to be obsessed with all-day battery if you're a Q10 owner.
The best parts of the BlackBerry Q10 really sit on the outside. Using the Q10 is like opening a crazed bag of cats.
The BlackBerry 10 OS feels like it's tripping over itself on this handset: animations are slow and jerky, gestures often fail to produce the screen you're after causing you to start swiping like a madman, and apps take forever to load.
On top of that, the ecosystem is a desolate wasteland of apps. We've lambasted Windows Phone 8 for a while over its lack of compelling apps, but compared to BlackBerry World in BlackBerry 10, it's positively bursting. Sure you can have a few social media apps and a half-baked client, but it's missing anything meaningful or compelling. It's an app ecosystem trapped in 2006: Angry Birds and Facebook are so last-decade.
The tiny, low-res screen is also torturous for anyone who wants to either see what they're doing or enjoy good content. It's so blurry and tiny compared to other devices which is seriously disappointing.
To add insult to injury, the BlackBerry Q10 is priced so uncompetitively that it's a wonder that they've sold one at all. There's no hiding it: it's (as near as makes no difference) $700. You can get a killer Android device or the awesome iPhone 5 for the price of this appless keyboard hero.
Should You Buy It?
If you're flush with cash and desperate for a physical keyboard, the Q10 is the device for you. Unless you're mad for a keyboard though, it's probably not worth buying.