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BlackBerry Q10 review: Interface, Usability, BBM, Browser and Camera

Luke Johnson

By Luke Johnson

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

BlackBerry Q10 Interface and Usability

The BlackBerry Q10 is the first phone to land running the BlackBerry 10.1 operating system update. As a result, the Q10 is a joy to use, mostly.

The keyboard shortcuts introduced in BlackBerry 10.1 combine with the full physical QWERTY to negate the need to swipe, select and shuffle your way through multiple menus and app options.

An example of such a shortcut is the ability to type “text dad” from the homescreen. Doing so will see the handset jump straight to the messaging features and input the desired contact details. This is a true timesaver.

The BlackBerry Q10 is by no means sluggish, but nor is it the most powerful device on the market. It's powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and features 2GB of RAM - not bleeding-edge but good enough for most people.

BlackBerry Q10

Jumping through menus and reverting back to the home screen is prompt and fuss free. Opening apps, however takes that fraction of a second longer than desired. It's a niggle rather than a major problem, but a noticeable one if you come from an iPhone or top-end Android phone like the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Allowing for this minor gripe, we must add that turning the BlackBerry Q10 on is a particularly laborious process. With boot times easily topping the one minute mark, this seemingly straightforward, basic function becomes an arduous task.

The BlackBerry Q10 isn't the perfect option for heavy-duty gaming, but that's not what it's designed to handle. Instead, the BlackBerry Q10 is attuned to business use with a smattering of entertainment, a balance it pulls off well.

The BlackBerry Hub further aides the Q10’s user experience. Collating all activities in one easy to reach location, the Hub brings together message alerts, emails, BBMs and social media notifications. The BlackBerry Hub quickly becomes a one stop shop for all communication needs.

BlackBerry Q10 – BBM, Call Quality and Browser

The BlackBerry Q10, like its Bold, Curve and Torch siblings before it, has the company’s BBM messaging system at its core. And BBM on the Q10 is as strong as ever, interacting seamlessly with the BlackBerry Hub, so you can keep in touch, fee free, with those closest to you at all times. Moreover, while BBM is currently BlackBerry only, BlackBerry plans to launch iOS and Android BBM apps later this summer, so you won’t be all alone on there.

Call quality on the BlackBerry Q10 is strong, too. We suffered no dropped or phantom ‘unreceived’ calls, and the Q10 maintains a decent signal in places other phones struggle. Calls are loud and clear with no distortion, and the Q10 deals with background noise well.

The BlackBerry Q10 browser is a hit and miss affair that overcomes some shortcomings, namely the smaller screen. Pages load quickly over cellular or Wi-Fi means, and well laid out options and quick access to shortcuts make the Q10 browser is efficient and business like. The QWERTY keyboard makes inputting URL’s a breeze, with no pop-up digital display crowding out on-screen content.

However, a lack of text reflow is a slightly disappointing omission on such a small screen, one which means there is more swiping back and forth for than we’d like. Tabbed browsing is fussier than Android rivals, too, with more menu options to navigate than is strictly necessary.

BlackBerry Q10

BlackBerry Q10 Camera

The BlackBerry Q10 camera setup is a very familiar one – it’s the same as the BlackBerry Z10. That means an 8-megapixel camera ‘round back and a 2-megapixel one up front that, on paper at least, isn’t the most desirable on a current flagship phone.

In use, however, the integrated snappers are surprisingly strong performers that capture impressive stills in challenging lighting, blossoming in ideal shooting situations. The main camera captures pleasing amounts of detail and definition with good colour management. Bleak, grey skies often come out as a drab, lifeless blank slate, but it’s not an issue exclusive to the Q10.

BlackBerry Q10

Only focus and the built-in LED flash let the Q10 down. The focus isn’t as reliable as rival phones, while the flash lends dark indoor scenes an artificial tinge. The Q10’s abundant image editing options help a little here. The usual black and white, sepia and lomo effects are joined by brightness, white balance and sharpness, so you have a little more control, but they’re not miracle workers.

The Q10 adds an HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode that was missing from the Z10 but added in BB10.1. It aids shots in taken in low natural light, enhancing detail at the expense of some colour contrast.

BlackBerry Q10

Another BlackBerry Q10 camera feature of note is Time Shift. Introduced with BB10, Time Shift lets you capture an image burst, scrolling back through the timeline to select the optimal shot of your subject, such as a person’s face. It’s a useful feature that gives the Q10 something a little different.

The Q10 captures 720p HD video, too, that’s of a similar standard to rivals. Colours aren’t as refined as those in still photos, but unwanted noise and motion blur are kept to a minimum. The front-facing camera meanwhile is fine, though it struggles more than the rear camera in low light.

The BlackBerry Q10 camera shoots at a 1:1 aspect ratio as standard in order to fit the handset’s screen. This occurs for both video and stills photography. Although the square ratio can be an annoyance when transferring handset captured shots to a desktop device, this is an issue easily resolved in the settings.

BlackBerry Q10

While the Q10 can shoot in more traditional 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios, doing so causes far from ideal playback options on the Q10 itself. Considerable black bars top and bottom detract from otherwise engaging images.

The Q10 gallery is not the most natural or intuitive to navigate either. If anything, it highlights some of the remaining niggles of the BB10 OS. Overall it creates a bitty and unnecessarily chunky user experience.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

Jaime Membreno

May 30, 2013, 6:47 pm

After being die hard BB users my wife and I finally dame the change to Iphone and Galaxy and we are so happy we made that change. Sorry BB but you arrived too late. I am not saying that BB is not good but at this time of the game they really need to come up with something that nobody else has.

lovetobbq

May 30, 2013, 9:51 pm

They did...a kick-ass querty key pad.

kupfernigk

May 31, 2013, 1:17 pm

First, it isn't £600; it's £528 from Handtec, £440 to businesses.
Technically it's an iPhone 5 with a smaller screen, a keyboard, larger and removable battery and NFC. It's at least as well made as an iPhone 5, so it is not at all obvious why it should be cheaper. If you don't spend your time watching videos on a phone (use a tablet for that) the screen size rapidly becomes immaterial because when you are typing, the remaining screen is the same size as the space above the keyboard on a slab phone. For reading and writing, the screen is big enough.
Even the comment about iPlayer is a bit pointless. BB 10 is designed to work well with HTML5; wherever possible things should run in the browser. Too many apps on iOS and Android are basically wrappers around a mobile site that doesn't run too well in the browser.
It isn't competing with the "superphones" because they are in a different market.I know someone who uses a Galaxy Note 2 because he thinks while doodling, and he can doodle on the GN2. Me, I just don't get on with glass keyboards. It doesn't matter how good the screen is, I find the iPhone unusable. I may be part of a niche, but the industry is so big nowadays that it can support many niches.

Tin City

July 17, 2013, 5:20 pm

The most honest reviews regarding this phone can be found on Amazon, here are 25 honest reviews from actual buyers - This is how I made my choice.

jyb

July 20, 2013, 9:50 am

Correct. And precisely why you have the Q10!

neverrealisedihadbecomeafan

October 22, 2013, 8:34 pm

I need to send a lot of emails while out and about for work, I also need an interface that allows me to access and search what I need quickly with no fuss or bother. I HAD been using a Bold for a couple of years but it was showing it's age so my boss bought me a new Samsung Galaxy S4. 5-days later I am sending it back, sadly it's all gimicks and toys and looks like it would be broken within a month. I'm expecting delivery now of a new Q10. Out of interest and as an experiment I tried to type "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. (With punctuation) on my aging touch screen Motorola and then on the Bold. I tried a minimum of 5 attempts each with a stopwatch. The touch screen Motorola took me generally around 42 seconds ( I managed 1 attempt at 24 seconds (but missed that I had failed to correct Fox from "Fly" ). Most of my BB attempts were around 18 seconds ..but with 1 at 14.6 !! Therefore for me, taking into account the usual corrections and errors, one simple sentence takes me usually half the time to complete with a keyboard as opposed to a touch screen. I don't dispute that the Galaxy is probably great for messing around with apps and games and I am sure that there are indeed better touchscreens than my Motorola, but people need to remember that there are a good many of us who simply need to get the job done. (Oh, and yes..I do think the Q10 is a beauty )

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