In any discussion about BlackBerry, “The Bold is the one you really want” is a line you could’ve sầu used at practically any point in the last five sầu years. And so it is again: When the full-touch Z10 started hitting retail earlier this year to mediocre Đánh Giá, you couldn’t help but think, “This isn’t BlackBerry’s wheelhouse. The Bold is the one I really want.”

Of course, it’s not actually called the Bold this time around, but the Q.10 is the spiritual successor to lớn BlackBerry’s flagship line of portrait QWERTY phones. Make no mistake, this is BlackBerry’s bread & butter—no one can lay a more authentic clayên khổng lồ the portrait QWERTY size factor than these guys can. (Arguably, that’s because no one else is really trying to make a good portrait QWERTY phone, but that’s another matter entirely.)

And lượt thích I said, I feel like we’ve sầu been here before, because this is the part of the Reviews where I tell you that the điện thoại thông minh landscape has changed, that no one actually wants portrait QWERTY anymore, that full-touch is the only way lớn go. It’s the part where I say that the Q.10 is trying to lớn be the best of a dead and irrelevant breed, while the Z10 does little to lớn 3D the massive amount of ground that BlackBerry has lost lớn the iPhones, the Galaxy S4s, và the Ones of the world. It’s the exact same thing I could’ve told you two years ago when we were talking about the Touch, the Curve, và the Bold.

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So has the story changed this time around? Who is the Q10 for? And is it seriously worth a look? Let’s find out.

This is BlackBerry"s bread and butter

The Z10 was panned, in part, for its crushingly boring design. It’s practically the antithesis of design, really—an unornamented matte black plastic box, thrown together as an afterthought. The Q10 is undeniably a chip off the same block, but it works better this time around: the four straight rows of physical keys, separated by satin metal lines, vì chưng an admirable job of breaking up the monotony.

The quận 10 also features a nice chamfer và a gentle curve sầu between the front, side, và baông xã, giving it far greater "holdability" than the Z10—it feels good. The bachồng of the quận 10 has a matte, three-dimensional carbon fiber look that is classier than it sounds; it has less texture than the Z10’s rear, but the soft-touch finish still has plenty of grip.

It doesn’t have the "precious object" presence of an HTC One or an iPhone 5—but in some respect, I think BlackBerry basically nailed the look & feel of the Q.10, which is remarkable considering its forgettable Z10 bloodline. This is more or less exactly what I would expect a modern portrait QWERTY phone lớn look like: a touchscreen that is neither too big nor too small, a perfectly sized keyboard (more on that in a bit), and an understated, business-appropriate look interspersed with high-kết thúc detail.

It"s what I expect a modern portrait QWERTY phone lớn look like

The Q10’s 7đôi mươi x 7trăng tròn AMOLED display is good, but not great. It’s a bit warm—whites come through as very, very light yellows—và the maximum brightness is surprisingly low (this really shows when holding it up next lớn the Z10, which is much brighter at full tilt). cảm ứng responsiveness was fine, though I would’ve sầu liked a "glove mode"—since it was introduced on the Notê Lumia 920 & recently featured on the Galaxy S4, it’s something I’d lượt thích khổng lồ see become standard this year, particularly since I live sầu in an area of the country with a real winter.

I had one annoyance brought about by BlackBerry 10’s reliance on gestures: you need to swipe up from the bottom to bring up the multitasking screen và "go trang chủ." That’s totally fine on the Z10, where you’ve sầu got a big bezel beneath the display on which khổng lồ start your swipe, but on the Q.10, that means you need to basically swipe up from the keyboard. It just feels weird, lượt thích BlackBerry didn’t consider the notion of a physical keyboard when it designed that gesture. I also found myself occasionally swiping up to scroll a thực đơn or web page and inadvertently bringing up the multitasking display—likewise, that isn’t an issue either on the Z10 where the bottom of the screen is much lower relative sầu to lớn your thumb.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s talk about the keyboard," you’re thinking. Or, at least, that’s what you’re likely thinking if you’re a BlackBerry diehard who patiently held fast through the Z10 launch khổng lồ get your hands on the hardware this company is known for.

I’m happy to report that I think this keyboard is going khổng lồ satisfy BlackBerry loyalists. I don’t pretend to lớn be a hardcore portrait QWERTY user, but I’ve used my fair share of Curves và Bolds through the years, & there’s no sign with the Q10 that BlackBerry has forgotten its roots. The keys are "Bold-style"—that is, there’s no space between them, but each one has a distinct ridge that guides your angled thumb in the right direction—& they run literally edge-to-edge, so you’re taking maximum advantage of the phone’s roughly 2.6-inch width. They’re clicky, they feel great, and they’re somehow magically designed khổng lồ minimize mistyping with fat thumbs, though BlackBerry 10’s auto-correction functionality can bail you out when you vày fumble.

One oddity is that the Q10’s rows of keys are straight across, not slightly curved as on virtually every other phone BlackBerry has made. BlackBerry claims this was done because the quận 10 lacks the cluster of controls between the keyboard và display, giving them the opportunity khổng lồ align the keys with the square screen. Regardless of the reason, it didn’t seem khổng lồ have any impact on my speed or accuracy.

There are a handful of tweaks here, though, that weren’t present on the Z10 at launch, thanks partly lớn the fact that the Q.10 includes a new build (version 10.1) out of the box. Most notable might be the addition of "actions" khổng lồ universal search, which—as the name suggests—allow you to trigger specific actions by typing inkhổng lồ the phone’s tìm kiếm screen. (Old webOS users might remember this as "Quiông xã Actions" in Just Type.) It’s a shout-out to lớn the BlackBerry mantra of getting to work as soon as you start typing on the trang chính screen.

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Third-tiệc nhỏ apps can plug into these actions, but the Q.10 supports a handful out of the box. For instance, I can type "Tweet this is a test" & it’ll shoot out "This is a test" from the Twitter account I have sầu linked khổng lồ the phone. "cảnh báo shopping list" will file a new note in the Rethành viên ứng dụng with the title "shopping danh sách." Typing "email" followed by a tương tác name will start a new tin nhắn khổng lồ that contact (or you can simply type "email" to lớn start a new blank email). It also works for BBM, the phone ứng dụng, and others. It reminds me a bit of Alfred, the Mac app that lets you mix up actions using short textual commands—the difference is, I don’t want to lớn be typing on my phone if I can avoid it.

Don’t get me wrong, I get the appeal of these actions for users who live và die by the Q10’s keyboard—và there will be many of those users, I’m sure—but I didn’t really see the advantage, personally. I was never able khổng lồ convince myself that I was saving much (if any) time by typing out what I want to lớn vị on the phone rather than simply tapping the tiện ích và executing the command on the screen. (For what it’s worth, BlackBerry will be delivering actions lớn the Z10 as well once the 10.1 update starts rolling out.)

In a way, these actions feel like one of the fundamental rifts between the full-touch và keyboard philosophies of điện thoại computing: how vị you want to lớn get things done? If you’re willing to lớn take the time lớn learn the Q10’s full danh mục of keyboard shortcuts, you’ll no doubt shoot around the operating system a little bit faster, but I can’t imagine recommending this to anyone who isn’t already using a phone with a physical keyboard. If you’re already a fast và effective typist on a full-touch phone, the perceived advantage of the Q10’s size factor quickly evaporates, even taking actions và shortcuts inlớn consideration.

More generally, when they"re side by side, the Q.10 feels faster than the Z10—scrolling is notably smoother, for instance. I don’t know whether we have 10.1 to thank for that or the fact that the quận 10 simply has fewer pixels that it needs to lớn manage, but it’s an improvement.

I would be willing khổng lồ bet that the average BlackBerry user spends more time on voice calls than other users, and that makes sound chất lượng even more important than usual. The Q.10 is in a good place here: the earpiece is plenty clear (though I can always use one more notch of volume for extremely noisy environments), and the loudspeaker—a big meshed slot on the bottom of the phone—has a boomy chất lượng that might be second only khổng lồ the hilariously loud HTC One. Callers told me that they didn’t hear a peep of background noise when I was in a Starbucks filled with people & music.

The camera hardware in the quận 10 is identical lớn that of the Z10, & so performance seems lớn be roughly the same—in daylight, I was able khổng lồ produce images that were just fine, though colors were muted (less so on the phone’s vibrant AMOLED display than on my laptop’s LCD). Time Shift, which takes a burst of shots to lớn choose from & lets you replace the faces of people who are blinking or frowning, is present on the Q.10, but I’d argue slightly less useful than on the Z10: you need to make decisions about which shot lớn choose và which faces khổng lồ use on a much smaller screen, & you can’t zoom the shot (detected faces are automatically magnified, but you can’t zoom in on other areas of the image). Frustratingly, it’s a one-time decision; you can’t go baông xã khổng lồ an old Time Shift image and change your mind.


BlackBerry 10.1 also adds support for HDR. I was impressed with how fast the phone seemed khổng lồ snap HDR shots, but in practice, it didn’t make much of a difference for HDR’s notorious ghosting—I was actually getting giant ghosts on images of completely stationary objects, possibly because the camera is spending more time snapping photos than the shutter sound & UI lead you to lớn believe sầu, so you inadvertently start to lớn move the camera before it’s actually done doing its work.

Our Q10’s đánh giá kit came with a nifty, extremely compact external battery charger powered by Micro USB, but you’ll probably only need to lớn juice up that second cell if you’re putting in an inordinately long day (& night) away from a wall outlet. In my testing I had no issue making it through a full day of use in and around AT&T’s LTE network; in fact, there was a moment early in the afternoon where just a tiny sliver of the battery meter was missing after several hours of intermittent calling, texting, & browsing. On balance, it seems to bởi noticeably better than the Z10, which makes sense: it’s a smaller screen paired with a bigger battery (2,100 mAh versus the Z10’s 1,800 mAh).

On two occasions in my life, I’ve made a serious go at using a BlackBerry full-time—first with the unforgettable và amazing Curve sầu 8900, later with the Bold 9900. On both occasions, despite crippling software flaws và anemic app catalogs, there was something about the simple act of using a BlackBerry that made you feel more important & productive sầu. Whenever I pulled it out and started typing, I was “getting stuff done.”

Now, though, the Q10 has lost even that appeal for me. Yes, the software is miles beyond anything that BlackBerry 7 could ever deliver, but as a chronic Android và iOS user, there was no point during my encounter with this phone that I felt lượt thích I was running circles around those other platforms. Not with email, not with documents, not with tương tác management. BlackBerry 10’s Hub—which aggregates calls, texts, tweets, emails, BBMs, and so-on inkhổng lồ quite possibly the most universal inbox on the planet—is a neat trichồng, but not particularly useful for business users who giảm giá khuyến mãi with a heavy stream of low- to lớn medium-priority emails. I just didn’t feel the productivity bonus.

And if you’re not on the Q.10 for the productivity bonus, what are you here for? The small, square display? The weak third-party phầm mềm selection?

Maybe you’re here for the keyboard. As superb as the Q10’s physical keyboard is, I keep thinking about the six-year evolution of the soft keyboard since the introduction of the original iPhone. They’ve sầu gotten so good on every platform—iOS, Windows Phone, Android, even BlackBerry’s own Z10. The argument used lớn be that physical keyboards were for serious users who needed to lớn burn through gmail, và I just don’t think that holds water anymore. Yes, this is the best of a dying breed, but for the life of me, I don’t know why someone who’s accustomed lớn a full-touch phone would come baông xã lớn this.

That doesn’t mean I’d recommend a Z10 over this; if it’s a full-touch phone you want và you’re open to lớn using something other than BlackBerry 10, I wouldn’t hesitate khổng lồ recommend an iPhone or any number of Android devices before it. But for the faithful, make no mistake: the Q10 is the ultimate BlackBerry. All paths in BlackBerry’s nearly three-decade history lead khổng lồ this phone. Happy Bold users will, and should, tăng cấp in droves. Unfortunately, BlackBerry needs much more than a stop-loss hàng hóa.