BlackBerry (BB) is a world of its own. When they started, nobody took them seriously, because they were offering complicated services, everything was expensive and the phones were cumbersome and ugly. Few years later, they’ve become a standard in the world of communication, offering top quality service, Enterprise services with maximum data protection and excellent phones with the best keyboards. Even though they weren’t the first to implement a complete qwerty keyboard in a cell phone, BB is the one who defined how it should look and how should it feel during use. With the advent of touchscreens, the keyboard lost its importance, so BB had their lapses in that area. In the last few years there has been a complete power change on the market, because BB had a major setback with service outages all over the world, and there’s also been the change of corporate leadership. Even though it was on the market all the time, and regularly presented new generation of phones, BB didn’t have real solutions for market’s demands until this year.
This year brought new phones that operate on new OS. BB has developed for years their own OS, which performed well on all phones. Still, in age of smartphones, that’s not good enough. That’s why BB decided to buy QNX, a Unix-based micro-kernel OS. This operating system exists since 80’s and was developed in accordance with current trends, and always paid attention to security. It powered many commercial devices, and its most famous applications were found in cars and nuclear power plants. When it was taken over by BB in 2010., everybody expected that this step will be the turning point in the further development of the company, because it didn’t manage to keep up with the market. Unfortunately, it took them more than 2 years to publish Blackberry 10 OS. New OS brought many improvements, it looked great, but there weren’t any phones that used it. Finally, this year they’ve presented Z10, the first BB phone that used the new OS. Still, this model is all-touch, didn’t have a keyboard, and many BB fans were left without one of their favorite features. Up until the summer of 2013.
First BlackBerry 10 phone with the QWERTY keyboard was the Q10 model. In order to be precise, Q10 comes with preinstalled 10.1 version of the OS. It combines touchscreen and new incarnation of the famous BB keyboard. So, let’s start from there. The keys are arranged in straight lines, with ergonomic curvatures. There’s no trackpad in the middle anymore, and the keys have backlighting. Q10’s screen is unusual. Diagonal is 7,87 cm (3,1”) long, and resolution is 720x720 pixels. Above the screen, there’s the front camera (2 MP), LED indicator and the speaker. On the bottom side, there’s the lock key and 3,5 mm audio connector. On the left side there are a microUSB and microHDMI ports. Right side has volume control buttons. On the bottom side there are openings for microphone and the speaker. Q10’s back are of top quality, and here we have a rare detail – the lid. It’s possible to open Q10 and replace the battery, and undearneath the lid there are placeholders for microSIM and microSD. NFC module is integrated into the lid.
Battery has capacity of 2100 mAh and can last up to two days and more, depending on the amount of use. The back camera has resolution of 8 MP, F2.2. The lens is supported by special ISP chip with 64 MB buffer. It shoots videos in 1080p resolution, has 4 DOF picture stabilization, and for night shootings there’s the LED flash. The recordings are of high quality, and there’s a large number of software controls. Digital zoom is performed by pinching; image capture is triggered by clicking on the screen, or via side buttons. Q10 also has advanced camera controls, such as Time Shift – automatic capture of multiple photos, with automatic choice of the best one, or combining faces on all 11 photos. Video is recorded in mp4 format, the sound is mono, but it’s great. Let’s not forget what’s underneath the hood. Dual-core processor with 1,5 GHz, 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage space will be enough for most users, especially with the optimized OS.
|Processor||Dual-Core Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz|
|Memory||RAM 2G, 16 GB storage, MicroSD card slot|
|Display||3.1" SuperAMOLED, 720x720|
|OS||Blackberry 10 OS|
|Camera||Front 2MP, back 8 MP|
|Interfaces||4G, LTE, HSPA+, EDGE, WiFi a/b/g/n, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, MicroUSB, 3.5mm audio, MicroHDMI|
Main feature of BlackBerry phones is their constant connection. Even though that’s usual today with most of the phones, BB always provided something more. You get a complete experience with connection to BB services. For networking, there’s 4G (LTE, HSPA+ and EDGE), Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0 LE and NFC. There's also GPS, with GLONASS support. In order to utilize the connection capabilities, Q10 has a browser with WebKit, that completely supports Flash. Even though the screen is 3,1“, the image is of good quality, so staring at the screen for long won't be a problem. This phone fully supports working with multiple tabs, the only possible issues are with 1080p YouTube videos. For serious work, there's DocsToGo application package, which supports Office documents (Word and Excell files can be created and modified, while PowerPoint can only be modified). PowePoint slides can be presented over microHDMI port, so it can serve as a replacement for a projector. The most important software component of every BB10 phone is BlackBerry Hub – a set of modules for message management, with Peek and Flow functions. When BB's signal LED is flashing, indicating that a new message has arrived, you can read it freely, without interrupting whatever you were doing at the moment. Upwards swipe minimizes the current application and displays a screen with the unread messages. All of the messages can be seen here – SMS, BBM, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or some other services. In case you want to read a message, you can do that by clicking on the Hub. If the message is tied to some other service (e-mail, calendar), Flow will help you to implement important information in that service. Compared to the previous BB OS, the changes are significant, and old BB users will need some time to adapt to all these new options, but studying them will result in increased efficiency. In case you liked BBM service, you'll be amazed with the new BBM Video option, which works on all BB OS 10 devices.
It's all about the better use of free time, so in case you've already worked hard with new capabilities, you can rest for a bit, have fun or send a few messages. That's made easy with BlackBerry Balance – a concept that separates the private from the business world. When you set a business account, your BB10 is ready for work. All information is there, available over Hub. If you want to communicate with friends over non-business channels, and you don't want to use another device, but also don't want to compromise sensitive information, BB OS 10 offers you a private mode. On home screen, with a downard swipe, you'll opent two tabs – Work and Personal. Choosing one of those opens the screen, adjusted to the selected mode. If you're in the private mode, you can send messages over private mail, watch a video or listen to music. All data from business mode are protected on system level and separated from private mode. By opening Hub, at any moment you can see all received messages (for both modes), so if you received an important business mail, you can switch to business mode and continue with work.
Super AMOLED technology and 328 ppi provide an excellent image, and make up for the relatively small screen. This is, after all, a business phone and has a whole keyboard, suitable for long-term use. Aside from that, combination of touch screen and keyboard shortcuts additionally speeds up the use. In using Q10 we haven’t noticed any problems or slowdowns, and in the addition to a quality OS, merit also belongs to top-quality hardware. At this moment, Q10 is the best phone with physical keyboard on the market, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then there’s no dilemma.