Before Apple dominated the smartphone market, BlackBerry was the king of mobile handsets. Back then, touchscreens were rare, and the alphanumeric “qwerty” keyboard of Blackberry phone was the industry standard for input and navigation. With the emergence of iPhones and other touchscreen-equipped devices from Android, the QWERTY lost its appeal and functionality: it would be unwise to waste the face of a mobile device with a permanent keyboard fixture. The end became apparent for the once-loved mobile phone keyboard when virtual keyboards evolved to become more tactile and intuitive, giving rise to haptic feedback, type-and-swipe, and auto-correct features, among others. But with BlackBerry’s latest attempt to salvage its brand, we see new smartphones sporting the iconic BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard. One of these devices is the Q10, a full-fledged smartphone running the new BlackBerry OS 10. With the lukewarm reception of BlackBerry’s first OS 10 gadget, the Z10, the future of the Q10 is highly questionable. Is this device really worth the time, money, and attention? Does adding a full QWERTY keyboard enough to convince everyone to bite into the “other fruit” of the smartphone market? Read more to find out.
Q10 on paper
With a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor and 2 GB RAM, the Q10 is not really the powerhouse you’d want to replace your 2012/early 2013 smartphone. Right off the bat, this specs line won’t really convince rational smartphone owners to ditch their iPhone 5s and Galaxy S3s. And with an impending refresh of Apple and Samsung’s flagship handsets, the Q10 will be left eating more processor dust. But maybe that’s not aspect BlackBerry focused on when they created the Q10. But other aspects like 8MP/2MP HD front and rear camera, 16 GB expandable storage, and LTE/HSPA+ connectivity seem on par with the rest of the industry. But still, on paper, the Q10 is not a leap forward in mobile technology. At best, it’s on similar level with 2012 handsets, and would really need to do more to improve its specifications.
Keyboard OR decent screen – you really can’t have both
The biggest downside of having a full QWERTY keyboard on the face of a smartphone is the reduced screen real estate. With the full-sized keyboard, the Q10 is left with just 3.1-inch touch-sensitive screen. And even though it boasts of a 720×720, 330 PPI display, there’s really no point in boosting the phones resolution when you can only display a 3-inch video or image. To their credit, BlackBerry came up with a really rich display, the Q10’s 330 PPI slightly edge’s the iPhone 5’s 326 PPI screen. That makes images displayed look vivid and life-like, with no pixels visible to the naked eye. But again, this feature is limited by the screen’s really small size. At 3.1 inches, the screen is even smaller than 3.8-inch display of the very first iPhone.
QWERTY Keyboard is the saving grace
In a way, BlackBerry would still benefit from pairing their latest OS with a QWERTY handset. After all, this is the formula that they lived by before the iPhone stole the limelight. They keyboard makes BlackBerry a total business phone, and this is one selling point that they enjoy. A lot of people would be curious if the Q10 can really deliver a new smartphone experience by integrating a keyboard to its latest OS (which is quite decent, aside from the fact that it lacks the right apps). Those who moved away from BlackBerry when it lagged behind the iPhone and Android phones now have a reason to move back.
At around $200 on contract, the Q10 is just as expensive as other top-tier phones. This is the biggest problem for BlackBerry, because it’s really hard to consider buying the Q10 when you have the latest iPhone, Samsung, and HTC units nearby.