Tuesday, May 7, 2013

One week later... My Blackberry Q10

Well its coming up for a week now since the mainstream launch of the Blackberry Q10, and I thought it was time to hammer the keyboard of the laptop for a while and give the Q a bit of a break. So while Z and Q sit on the side and rest for a bit, lets take a look at my first week (almost) with my latest Blackberry.

So, the Blackberry Q10 is the second handset to be launched from Blackberry since they changed their name from RIM. Sporting the almost entirely new BB10 operating system, its a far cry from my first Blackberry which was an 8320. Not quite as ancient as some out there who rocked the side scroller, but certainly old enough to remember how very different the operation of a Blackberry was then. That was WAY back in 2007. In fact its only in writing this entry that I had any idea I have been using a BB for 6 years now. Then again, given just how many of them I have got through in that time, maybe that's about right.
For those not in the know, this is an 8320..

Back then I could send and receive email while I was on the move, and occasionally if needed, check things on the internet. Browsing then was more necessity  than social and passtime. Oh how things have changed. But very quickly, if there is one thing I have never got over, it has to be the contrasting keys. With the numerical keypad being reverse colours, making it easier to type numbers. Small issue, and would totally ruin the current Q10, but that's my gripe over with.

So, leaping forwards a few years, and blasting past the 8520, 9700, 9900, and Z10 that all followed the first one, and we arrive at the current day. The first fair thing to say is, having experienced the progress from one device to the next, going from a trackball to the trackpad, and then to the trackless device, the progress has been tiresome at best, sometimes sitting so still, that to be a BB user felt like you were in a timewarp and heading backwards while the world around you shot forwards.

Well those days are gone now, and finally it feels like us BB users are on an even playing field with the rest of the smartphone users out there. I would even be so bold as to say that in some respects, we are a step ahead. In one respect a Q10 user has one asset to their disposal that no other real smartphone user has, and that's a physical keyboard. Sure there are other phones out there with physical keyboards, but at this point, none have the same processing power or abilities as the Q.

So, back on track, there was a first week with a Q10 meant to be going on here...

Receiving the box from the courier, the package was very small, and remembering how the Z10 had come packaged I knew what to expect. A phone, a battery, a SIM, a data cable and charger plug, and a cheap pair of headphones. So on opening the box and taking everything out, I was delighted to find a pair of the new premium headphones in there, and a week later I am still over the moon with them. The right balance between sound quality while maintaining some awareness of whats happening around you, like traffic.

Putting the phone together it was then time to see this glass weave battery cover there has been so much talk about. Having been torn between white and black handsets and finally settling for black, I was relieved when I finally felt the back cover in my fingers. Having used a Z for 2-3 months, I have grown used to the level of grip the back of that offers. All the preview images showed the glass weave for the black, and the Z10 style textured back for the white. Having never been happy with the back of the 9900, I was concerned the Q10 would be slippery with its glass weave... WRONG. Its lovely waxy and soft feel give it great grip in the hands, and belay any worries about letting it slip. So off to a good start then.

Powering up for the first time, I knew most of what to expect, with having been baptised into the world of BB10 with using the Z for a few months. All that was left to see was how well the gestures, screens and software would work with this new, non smiling physical qwerty.
Once the introductions were made it was time to get on with the formalities of setting the device up. First up, time to set up a new account, as you obviously cant run two devices on one Blackberry account. Even with the demise of BIS, things like Blackberry World, and Protect require you to have an account for each live device you are running. Obviously a straight device swap would just require logging in with your existing details. With new username and account running, it was time to get to know the Q.

Starting with what most would consider THE important part of a smartphones soul.. Apps! Personally to me they are a nice addition, but I am pretty content with the standard package of native apps on the BB10 devices, they do most things I want to do on a day to day basis. However, having already added a good few to the Z10's arsenal of weapons, I thought it only fair to equip the Q equally.
I would have liked to have done this, but sadly there are a few apps which have not yet ported over. Yes, its that age old problem, right OS, wrong device. And with the different form factors of the two being so far apart, it would be wrong to expect all apps to work out of the box. The only one I actually pine for right now is BeBuzz, no relation to Bieber!
I did however hear that Blackberry are helping the devs out by testing and automatically porting over any Z10 apps that are Q ready, and this should take place in the coming weeks. I sincerely hope BeBuzz is in there.

Speaking of native apps and software, I thought this was the right time to mention all is NOT well. While the 'shortfallings' of the Hub have already been discussed, I thought I would quickly touch on Twitter, and its native app on BB10. Yes its simple and easy on the eye, but its also pretty bland and a touch dumb too. The way it interacts with the contacts list for composing a tweet with a mention in it, the limited actions available from the app it self. It has a habit of repeating tweets, so on opening one, as it builds it will create a long list of the same text over and over. I wont go on for ages, but in short I find the native Twitter SO irritating, I wont use it. Instead I prefer to use Blaq, with its much nicer and more user friendly interface. Mentions on there are dealt with by a progressive search, with suggestions appearing at the top as you type the names. Unlike the native app which insists on opening a contacts list.

So working with the actual device on a day to day basis, I can only say its an absolute delight to use. I still switch between the Z and the Q, depending on which is closer to hand. The other deciding factor is what I am planning to do with the device, browse, view video or having a long blogging session or forum session.
I wont say gaming as that's truly not my forte, but know it is important to some people, and appreciate their needs.
Needless to say, having been housebound for most of the past week, forums like Crackberry have been my main haunt, and with the Q being the new kid on the block, the choice was pretty obvious. Me and the Q have spent some quality time over the past few days, putting it through its paces, and seeing what its really made of. Testing the battery to see what sort of beating it can take on a full charge. The camera seeing how all the different settings work, and what gives the optimal results, and of course the most important thing to me, seeing how well I can manage going back to a physical keyboard after months away.

With regards to the keyboard, a few days before the Q arrived I picked up my old 9900 for the first time in ages, and immediately became attached to the feel of keys under my thumbs again, could the Q really match that feeling. Well the short answer is yes! And exceed it too. Even though the difference is measured in millimetres rather than centimetres, the loss of the smile from the keyboard made me wonder how different typing would be. Well maybe its coming from the flatness of the Z, or maybe its just the difference in unnoticeable, but either way the new flat lines of the keyboard work fine, and typing is a joy. I am back in my old ways of typing for the sake of typing, and not having to stare at the sensationless buttons of a touchscreen while I do it. So keyboard is a big thumbs up.

Camera, I wont go on too much about it, but as I have said in previous entries, it is a more than capable camera, and pleasing for the average point and shoot user. If you are not happy with the results of the pictures, you probably need to start looking at using a proper camera rather than the relying on the camera on a cellphone and hoping for DSLR results. Yes there are other camera phones out there which have more scope, but the emphasis here is on the simplicity of the use of the Q10's camera.
Read more here... Q10 Camera Test

Speaking of what you see, the screen on the Q, the super AMOLED display is a lovely thing. Some have complained about the whites being grey, or there being saturation of blues, but somehow with all their knowledge, seem to have overlooked the technologies behind AMOLED. It is sharp, crisp, clear and bright. Sunlight legibility is fine with the right brightness setting, although mine resides around 30%

The battery, well I think it is fair to say that it unsurprisingly manages to out perform that of its counterpart. For someone who uses their phone every few minutes for something throughout the day, the Q does a fine job of lasting out the day without a charge. Managing beyond 12 hours for me by modern day standards is really quite a feat. Of course as I have said numerous times, there are many contributing factors to how long a battery will last a day, and it doesn't take a power user to drain a battery in under 12 hours. Process sapping apps, poor network connection, unused connections NFC, Bluetooth, Wifi, etc can all lead to the early demise of the battery too.

So in summary, before this day passes me by.
The Q10 is a very capable device, and should certainly meet all the wants and needs of the die hard physical keyboard fans. You don't have to be old or a technophobe to want to use a physical keyboard. its just a preference. Its productive, its comfortable, and lets be honest, its nice to be a little different. Although with the instant success of the Q10 I'm not sure how long you will stand out for, before you are running with the crowd.
Blackberry have done well with the device, making it current, powerful, and pleasing to use. Ticking all the boxes from both looks and performance stand points, the Q is here, and ready to shake up the smartphone market just ever so slightly, and prove one thing for sure..... The days of the physical keyboard are FAR from over, and as an additional note, Blackberry is very much alive, and here to stay....

Sorry haters :)

More discussions about the Q10, and more of my comments can be found on a popular thread on Crackberry, or on link below.


Thanks for reading.

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