BlackBerry Q10 Now Available from Bell
It’s a watershed product for the future of Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry as a company. It’s also a big deal for Canada’s small business community: from its early stage innovations in mobile e-mail to its hardcore security features, the BlackBerry has become known as the ‘business’ phone. That’s why many businesses have been waiting patiently to see if the new BlackBerry Q10 is a phone that fits their needs.
Here are some key features to ponder as the Q10 – keyboard and all – gets set to hit the street.
Like the Z10… but different
Canadians got their hands on the new BlackBerry 10 operating system when BlackBerry released the touchscreen Z10 here in February. And with the same operating system under the hood, the BlackBerry Q10 has a lot in common:
– A speedy HTML5 browser
– LTE for ultra fast streaming and downloading
– BlackBerry Hub (a centralized way to check email, text, voice and social media notifications at a glance without leaving the app you’re in)
– A “Time Shift” photo feature (which lets you choose the best shot among several frames taken by the camera)
– A 2-megapixel camera on the front and an 8-megapixel camera on the back
As with the BlackBerry Z10, the Q10 also features predictive typing. On the Z10, suggested words appear above each key as you type; you choose the word you want by swiping it up into the body of your message. With the BlackBerry Q10, word suggestions pop up at the bottom of the screen and you input your chosen word by tapping on it. The Z10 and Q10 both learn your typing style and word patterns over time for increased typing accuracy and speed.
Like the Z10, the Q10 is a new smartphone and doesn’t yet offer every mobile app. Notable absences include Instagram and Spotify (although Skype has just been confirmed as forthcoming). There are more than 100,000 BlackBerry apps now, which is still less than what’s available on other platforms, but rapidly growing.
With the shared BlackBerry 10 operating system, it’s tempting to simply label the Q10 as the Z10 with a physical keyboard and call it a day. But there are other key differences between the two smartphones.
The Q10 sports a Super AMOLED screen vs. the Z10’s LCD display. To make room for the physical keyboard, the screen on the Q10 is smaller (3.1 inches vs. the Z10’s 4.2 inches). As expected with a touchscreen-only device, the Z10 sports a higher resolution screen (1280 x 768 pixels compared to the Q10’s square 720 x 720 pixels). But BlackBerry is promising longer battery life on the Q10, an estimated 13 hours compared to the 10 hours of juice promised on the Z10.
Q10 compared to previous BlackBerry QWERTY phones
The physical keyboard is still there and early reviews are calling it the best smartphone keyboard ever. Compared with BlackBerry’s older QWERTY models, the Q10 keyboard has bigger keys that are spaced wider apart for a roomier typing experience. The keys are laid out in three rows that are straight rather than curved, and the metal frets separating the rows are larger than on previous BlackBerry phones.
Gone are the trackpad and top row of keys (such as the escape and app control button) that used to be just below the screen on previous QWERTY BlackBerrys. But you do get a wider screen designed for much richer touchscreen functionality than older versions.
No, you can’t use one long button push anymore to speed dial a number or launch an app. Yet the same tried and true keyboard shortcuts are here, plus BB10’s new predictive typing feature we described above. The Q10’s new Instant Actions feature means all you have to do to e-mail someone or launch an app like Facebook, for example, is type “email Jane” or “FB” to get you there.
The bottom line
The Q10 comes with many of the new and improved goodies baked into the Z10 courtesy of the latest BB10 OS, namely a quicker browser, predictive typing, centralized Hub notification, and the Time Shift camera feature. Though the trackpad is gone from the Q10, BlackBerry loyalists can still use the keyboard shortcuts they know and love while also taking some new bells and whistles for a spin, including a redesigned physical keyboard that’s getting rave reviews, the Instant Actions command feature and an improved touchscreen above their beloved keyboard.
It’s too early to tell if the Z10 has converted large numbers of Galaxy or iPhone users to the BlackBerry camp or retained millions of existing BlackBerry users by turning them into touchscreen fans. The Q10, however, easily wins the title of the top physical keyboard smartphone on the market today.