BlackBerry Q10 Hardware Impressions – Best Looking BlackBerry Ever?

By - June 2013

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Is this the year that puts BlackBerry back on the map? With the devices that BlackBerry is releasing this year, you would think so. Their first device, the BlackBerry Z10 did quite well outside of the US and their second device looks to do the same, though this one may appeal to more people here in the US as well, especially those die hard keyboard fans. The new Q10 is a more traditionally styled BlackBerry device with the BlackBerry signature keyboard. What’s different now though is that the track pad no longer exists because the entire screen is now a touchscreen which negates the need for one. It’s also closer in size to past BlackBerry’s so those currently already using a BlackBerry will feel right at home picking up a Q10.

Design and Build

The main reason the Q10 exists is because BlackBerry knows that there is still a market for the traditionally styled, keyboard equipped messaging phone. This has been a staple of BlackBerry’s for years since launching the first messaging devices and it looks like it isn’t going away anytime soon. Even though the Z10 all touchscreen BlackBerry is already out, the Q10 was created to  appeal to those die hard BlackBerry fans who still do not want to venture into an all touchscreen solution. There’s a reason for this, the BlackBerry hardware keyboard is consistently one of the best keyboards out there.

IMG_6636If you’ve seen the Z10 in person, then you’ve probably noticed that it is larger than you average BlackBerry. Well, the Q10 is not as large as the 10. It isn’t as tall as a Z10 but it is a tiny bit wider. From what I can remember, the Q10 doesn’t seem any larger than my old BlackBerry Bold 9000 and fits comfortably in your hands. That means that because of its slightly smaller size, it’s easier to use one-handed than the larger Z10.

Materials wise, the Q10 and Z10 are very similar in terms of material used. Both are carved from a solid block of forged stainless steel with a black PVD finish to avoid scratches. The rear cover however is different from the Z10 and is made of glass weave with a soft touch coating. The weave has a 3D look to it and thanks to the soft touch coating, it feels really good in your hands and does leave any fingerprints. We’ll talk more about the rear of the phone later.

Up front, you’ll find a new 3.1-inch OLED touchscreen display that covers about two-thirds of the Q10 with the other one-thirds being the physical keyboard. The screen is larger now since the Q10 does not need a separate track pad because everything is touch based on the screen. The screen basically functions as a giant track pad now. The screen has a resolution of 720×720 with 330ppi. The Z10 on the other hand has a resolution of 1280×768  with 356ppi.

IMG_6637Down below, you’ll find the same wonderful keyboard that many BlackBerry users have grown accustomed to. I don’t have my old Bold 9000 to compare it to, but it seems very familiar and comfortable. The keys themselves have the same basic shape as the Bold 9000 but aren’t laid out on a curved keyboard. Instead they are laid out like a traditional straight keyboard. It basically the classic BlackBerry keyboard layout and even has the numbered keypad mapped to the WERSDFZXC keys instead of the top row keys. The keys are also backlit for usage in dim light situations. Like previous BlackBerry’s, the keyboard has a really great feel to them and the keys have a satisfying click to them when pressed down. I’d almost forgotten how a physical keyboard feels like but now I remember why I loved them so much. It really is much easier typing on a physical keyboard.

The rest of the Q10 is laid out exactly like the Z10. On the right side of the phone you’ll find the  button volume/audio control. Up top you’ll find the wake/sleep button located at the center and the headphone jack just off to the left of that. To the left of the Q10, you also find the same micro-USB charge/sync port and HDMI out port as the Z10.

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Back to the rear, the cover slides off the back, you don’t have to pry it off like you did on the Z10. Once you slide the cover off, you’ll find that the Q10 uses a different battery fro the Z10. The one in the Q10 is labeled as a NX1 battery. Under the cover, you’ll also find the sim card slot and media card slot. The sim card slot you can not get to unless you remove the battery. You’ll find that the sim card slides in easily but is not the same way when trying to remove it. In fact, it’s a bit difficult to remove the sim card and requires a bit of finesse to pry out. The media card is much easier and is spring loaded. That means push in to insert and push in again to have it eject out. Like the Z10, the back plate also includes a built in NFC antenna.

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, I really think BlackBerry should have came out with the Q10 first before the Z10. As much as I like the Z10, the Q10 is more familiar and more catered towards those who appreciate BlackBerry’s physical keyboards. This is a defining feature of BlackBerry in my opinion and the Q10 is the best representation of what makes a BlackBerry a BlackBerry. I know when I had first purchased a BlackBerry many years ago, I did so because the keyboard on it was amazing and allowed me to type quickly and accurately. Even now, trying to type on a touchscreen can be a mission while typing on this Q10 feels much more natural. Current BlackBerry owners on older devices will surely want to upgrade to the Q10 as it is a very good evolution.

That’s not to say it’s perfect though. I actually prefer the rear of the Z10 more than the glass weave back on the Q10 as it seems a bit more durable and grippy as well as nicer looking in my opinion. There is also the slight issue with how hard it is to remove the sim card from the sim card slot if you had the need to do so.

Other than that, build quality is excellent. I could not find anything to really nitpick about when it came to fit and finish and everything on the phone is solid. The keys feel great with the just the right amount of give and don’t feel squishy at all. Overall, excellent device and one that BlackBerry fans will enjoy.

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Samuel Huang is an avid gamer and all around tech geek. When not glued to his computer or iPhone, he can be seen pwning n00bs on PSN nightly. On occasion, he has the crazy dream of owning a vintage JDM Nissan Skyline Hakosuka GT-R or a Datsun 240Z.