The BlackBerry Q10 is the company's second BlackBerry 10 OS toting handset, and one that marks the return of the physical keyboard which will please the heavy texters, e-mail savvy and social network addicted among you. It comes packing the next gen, touch-friendly OS, and pairs it together with a 3.1-inch touchscreen and a physical QWERTY together to give a very different take to the BlackBerry Z10. Is it one that's worth your while and your wonga? We put BlackBerry's latest effort to the test to find out if a physical keyboard really is BlackBerry's way back into smartphone success.
The BlackBerry Q10 at first glance is a strikingly handsome looking phone that simply looks like it means business. It comes in either black or white, and each device has the same smooth tactile keys, carbon fiber-esque battery cover and bright AMOLED screen. The keyboard on all of BlackBerry's previous high-end Bold models were always the highlight, and that continues with the company's latest flagship QWERTY keyboard model. While the Z10 launched first with BB10 and proved that BlackBerrys don't necessarily need a keyboard to function well, power users and business-minds will be right at home with the physical keys presented on the Q10, with all the shortcuts preserved in their tactile glory. The give is perfect, and it's easy to reach all the keys too, even in their newly straightened row layout.
You'll find the BlackBerry Q10 powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz processor paired up with 2GB of RAM, both of which keep things humming along nicely, with hardly a stutter even in taxing situations. BlackBerry 10 OS fits right in on the Q10, and despite a smaller surface area than the Z10, the screen never felt cramped when it came to composing emails, checking out Twitter or updating Facebook thanks to the smooth scrolling, a bevy of touch-based gestures and keyboard shortcuts. Connectivity comes courtesy of a Micro USB port for charging and syncing, while a Micro HDMI port lets you beam out videos to a telly or a projector if you're up to the task of presenting from your phone.
On the software side of things, BlackBerry 10 feels right at home on the Q10, with simple gestures across the OS that keep things flowing. Even going back to an iPhone or Android device felt like a step back at times, with us trying to unlock phones in standby with a swipe gesture or to peek at notifications. On that note, BlackBerry 10 has notifications nailed down to a tee, with the trademark LED light letting you know when you have a new notification, while the BlackBerry Hub has a rundown of all your text messages, social media alerts and e-mails in one easy-to-access location. It makes iOS's Notification Center look clunky, and even Google could learn a thing or two from BB10. Business users will be happy to find portable versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel, each of them fully featured enough for you to get some work done on the road if you so choose.
Unfortunately, what lets the Q10 down is exactly the same as the Z10, and BlackBerry 10 as a whole – a complete lack of apps on the BlackBerry World store. You won't feel spoiled for choice with apps like on the iPhone or with Android phones, and you won't be able to play the latest and greatest games either, as the Q10 just isn't equipped for it, thanks to both the screen estate on offer and the keyboard.
Despite a decent 330PPI, 720 x 720 square screen resolution, the display just frankly feels too small outside of browsing Twitter, Facebook and answering e-mails. You'd be hard-pressed to enjoy a video clip, let alone a movie on the screen as it's just far too small and boxy, while wider viewing angles give the screen a greenish tint, which rules out sharing your screen with friends.
On the back of the BlackBerry Q10, you'll find an eight-megapixel shooter that frankly, could be better, but you wouldn't necessarily expect a business-centric phone to have the latest and greatest digital snapper tacked on, and it doesn't really need it. Things are improved thanks to BlackBerry 10's TimeShift mode that lets you adjust photos right after snapping, but don't expect the Q10's camera to replace your DSLR or point and shoot.
While you can upgrade the onboard storage up to 32GB with a microSD card, the 16GB of storage that the Q10 comes with might feel limiting to those who like to carry their media with them, especially as only 10.5GB is actually available to you thanks to the operating system itself taking up a whole chunk of space. Cloud storage fans will be pleased to see Dropbox and Box.net onboard, but you're still limited with a connection by those options.
Price-wise, the BlackBerry Q10 is on the high end of the spectrum, and with it ringing it up at £579.99, it's simply not a sensible purchase off contract, and a questionable one on. While you might be able to blag a decent pay monthly deal on the Q10, paying full price for a phone that's limited in the app department and could do with a better camera is just simply not worth it, especially as the Samsung Galaxy S4 costs the same, and the iPhone 5 is cheaper at £529. While you do get BlackBerry's gorgeous keyboard, price wise, it's just not enticing enough.