BlackBerry Q10 is purely for those who wish to have a no-frills, no-nonsense device
The erstwhile undisputed leader of the pack asserts its dominance in mobile sphere, and how! BlackBerry’s evolution in QWERTY bar form factor is a revelation; a visual delight, with glass weave design on the back, crossed pollinated with rugged workhorse of a mobile device. Q10 represents the best in the breed example of evolutionary train of mobile devices that have rolled in from BlackBerry with its operating system (OS) reboot. Q10 features an elegant, brilliant 3.1-inch square AMOLED touch screen with its now standard swipes and gestures mated to an ergonomic physical keyboard. The sides sport the volume rocker with a standard 3.5 mm jack and micro-USB charging port, standard across all its models. Internal hardware specifications resemble its predecessor Z10 with an upgraded battery life of 2100 mAH.
Digital hub serves as a central repository of your emails, social notifications and text messages. A nifty fact overlooked by many is that Hub represents a highly effective way to bypass the installed social apps on your phone; you can initiate conversations and reply to them from hub itself making installed apps redundant. This author prefers and highly recommends Fruux, taking advantage of the native active sync protocols for OTA contacts and calendar entries in real time. Starting from a scratch to full personalisation and installing updates, took less than half hour. Users can also switch devices with the help of BlackBerry Link desktop software but this author prefers method outlined above instead.
There are numerous under the hood improvements in addition to the last Z10 review covered previously here. Type and Go, a kind of launcher, has been introduced. Type “email” on the home screen and the email field pops up; similarly you can type “bbm” followed by the person’s name and it composes BBM for you without opening up the app. Universal Search has expanded in its scope and speed dial from the home screen is a new addition. Camera features a HDR mode in this update with standard features.
With due apologies to its original author, beauty lies in the hands of beholder. For old style BlackBerry purists like this author, keyboard is a sheer delight since it has been
refined, honed and exceeded from the pinnacle of BlackBerry Bold 9900. It has a straight keyboard layout punctuated by satin steel lines in four rows with the now familiar
QWERTY layout. Majority of the users have been “educated” to use pathetic touch screen interfaces with the noble exception of Z10 based on Swiftkey and proprietary predictive algorithm with stroke sensors that gradually adapt to your style. The angled keys give a reassuring click and once your muscle memory is attuned to the short cuts, typing out on it is a sheer guiltless pleasure with an amazing tactile feedback. The author anoints Q10 with the ultimate physical keyboard experience.
Standards compliant Near Field Communication has made wireless payment possible in India for certain products and companies; you just have to tap your phone to the payment kiosk and magic happens in background. Office applications and Webkit-based browser are similar to Z10. Adobe PDF reader finally gets the ability to add notations by default something that was missing at the time of its release. This isn’t fancy or really intuitive but is a step in the right direction for a native PDF app.
Battery life is a revelation on this smartphone. The author has stress tested this with Wi-Fi, running multiple tabs (more than 100!) in the browser with Flash content, playing first person shooter in one of the active frames, doing a marathon BBM chat with extensive screen sharing and streaming music. This device held up with such multiple demands without any crash and lasted this insult for over eight hours. With intermittent phone and continuous BBM usage, this author is able to squeeze out the whole day easily without the need for recharge. Your mileage may vary with the quantum of usage. Skype finally has a preview app for BlackBerry. Although released by Microsoft as an Android port, it is more of a product designed and executed by coding monkeys. It is a battery drain and user experience is worse than getting complicated piles. Skype was trashed on this author’s unit the next day after installation; please avoid it unless it gets a native build designed to work with BlackBerry. This author prefers and recommends BBM video instead, which is clean, secure and custom built for the device with screen sharing possible on mobiles. It works slick and smooth as butter, even on quirky and choppy BSNL Broadband, which is known for having the worst ping times.
Whatsapp is another necessary evil with a frustrating unintuitive interface but luckily with the OS update gets the hub integration. This author is very happy to understand that BlackBerry Messenger is slated for release to iOS and Android platforms soon, though its scope and official date has not been announced yet. Box and Dropbox get native apps for cloud storage. However, the author very strongly feels that apps are redundant, useless indulgences that distract the user from productivity, eat up battery and privacy nightmares. Hence the author prefers a clean native interface designed to hit the ground running.
Everyone else is in the race to make fancier electronic gadgets that work as a phone but BlackBerry alone has perfected the art of building and scaling up the mobile devices. With a secure, certified class-leading solution for enterprises and go-getter individual users, Q10 has been conceived, designed and marketed as a solid workhorse. BlackBerry understands its core power users and hence designs and innovates for a niche market. It understands that its users are well-organised, digitally resourceful and mobile optimised achievers and team leaders. This device is purely for those who wish to have a no frills, no-nonsense device. BlackBerry, like every time, strives to outdo itself; it is its own competition.