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Q10 running 10.2.1.176

I recently got a Q10, so after extensively playing with a Z10 and reviewing it I was anxious to try the Q10 and see if the loss of screen space would be justified by the keyboard. Now I have to admit, while the Z10 onscreen keyboard is quite good, there were times it was taking me two and three times to get a word right. It even would take a word I had spelled correctly and change it to a word it thought I meant? Really? Grrr. My last keyboard based Blackberry was the 9900 which I reviewed and quite liked it. At that point IMHO it was the best berry to date! So with that in place, onto the Q10.

So right off the bat I loaded the Beta 10.2.1 that I last reviewed on my Z10, primarily for the much improved Android compatibility.

Android compatibility a quick summary
If your not familiar with it, I’ll give you a quick summary, if you are skip over this section. I also did a deep dive on this topic in the past. Android installers are called APKs. Blackberry installers are called BARs. Blackberry in BB10 included the ability to run Android apps as a way to increase their app base for the BB10 devices. Prior to this beta you had to get your hands on the APK (such as backing it up from another Android device or downloading it from the web), then convert the APK to a BAR (on web sites for example) and then side load the BAR. It was clumsy. In the beta you can directly click on an APK from the operating system and install the Android app. A huge step forward and means compatibility is now excellent with most Android apps. In fact, you can load in Marketplaces such as 1 Mobile, Amazon as well as droid store. With any of these, on the device you can find an android app and install it. No need for a PC to side load the app. A HUGE step forward. 1 mobile will even tell you is the app you have loaded has been updated. Sweet, and another huge step forward. I did find 1 mobile also had some trouble discerning what were Android apps and not, and wanted to update apps I had loaded from Blackberry Appworld. I recently also discovered that BlackBerry have added bluetooth support in the beta! Sweet!

Physicals
Let’s start out with physicals. The device looks quite similar to the Bold 9900, but a slight bit longer. Different enough that the Q10 will not fit in a 9900 case. It’s all black with no faux chrome. The row above the keyboard (with the back, phone and joystick) is gone to allow for the max in screen real estate. There are those that really miss these keys. The lack of them definitely forces you to get use to the BB10 gestures and user interface.
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Port wise there’s a micro USB, micro HDMI and 3.5″ audio jack. All standards. Well done. The back slides nice off in what I would call the nicest design for a phone back in a LONG time. Behind the cover is the battery which by the way is different from the Z10’s. There’s also the micro SIM slot as well as micro SD slot. The micro SD card can be removed without powering it off. As with the Z10 there is no safe eject from inside the software so I’d be nervous about removing this too often as it MIGHT cause corruption. There’s a volume up/down as well as a convenience key (same as the Z10) in the middle that can play/pause the music. I see no way of reprogramming this key. The Bold 9900 had two contacts to allow you to put it in a desktop dock and have it charge without having to separately attach the cable. It was a nice design. Sadly the Q10 does not have these contacts. And last but not least is the keyboard. Which is real and it’s spectacular! As good or better than the 9900. This is really where Blackberry shine! it’s so nice to have a keyboard back! I haven’t found custom car holders or desktop docks (I can’t believe they don’t exist) for the Q10. The curved bottom make it challenging to have the device in a stand that wasn’t made for it.

Like the Q10 there is a custom battery bundle that includes as easily carried case that holds a second battery for the Q10. you can jack in and charge the battery without removing it from the Q10 (in which case you get about a 50% charge) or swap the batteries. When you get home you can plug the power into the back of the bundle then into the Q10 and wake up in the morning and both are charged. It’s a nice design. If your going to be away from a charger for a while it’s a great option and reasonably priced.
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The screen on the Q10 is not only smaller than the Z10, the trade of for the keyboard, it’s also a different shape. While most devices today are rectangular in dimension this one is almost square. You will need to see how many of your apps do and do not work with these unusual dimensions. As I got a larger and larger screen on my phone I noticed I carried my tablet less and less. Well the opposite happens too. With the smaller screen on the Q10 I find myself carrying my tablet more. The lack of screen real estate definitely impacts browsing, games, movies, you name it. But this is the price you pay for a keyboard. Motorola did an Android device what was unusually long and it resulted in a phone that was unbalanced and hard to hold.

On the positive side this device is probably the easiest device to use with one hand. Forget the larger screen devices where you are shuffling them in the hand. It just fits perfectly and is easy to use with one hand.

Hardware wise the Q10 and Z10 are almost identical. The Q10’s radio is the newer LTE frequencies and it’s noticeably faster than the Z10. Likely more to do with the fact that the LTE bands are getting busier with new devices coming out on LTE every day.

There are a number of keyboard shortcuts, click the link for the complete list.

The phone has an HDMI connector on it. I was very curious to see what it would do when plugged in. To my shock it literally mirrored the screen of the Berry onto the HDMI display taking up a teenie tiny portion of the screen and still square. Even with movie playback. Making this virtually useless except maybe to project a presentation. The device also supports Miracast but I was unable to test it, as I don’t have a Miracast compatible TV.
Update:
Thanks to Ben I learned a trick:
“You can make the Q10 play movies in widescreen mode. All you have to do is click on the dots in the bottom right, then “Play on”. When the Q10 is connected to HDMI, you get the option to make it full screen.

Why this wasn’t the default mode is an excellent question. Sheesh.”
I found this only worked if you started the movie from the video player not from the file manager. But it does indeed work. Thanks Ben!

BES Vs ActiveSync connections
On my Z10 my connection to the backend corporate email servers was ActiveSync. This time I got added to the BES servers. I was very interested to see how this differed. When connected to the BES servers which the Q auto detected based on my email address it created a work and personal workspace. This allowed me to load apps I wanted (like facebook etc) and keep them in a separate space from my work. I like the work spaces. But when connected through the BES (I think) your activity can be monitored, blocked, and controlled by the BES. So I deleted the account (which deleted the work work space, leaving the personal work space) and then manually re-added back the ActiveSync connection. Using this connection method all internet traffic on the device goes over the carrier and the BES is not in play. Now one thing worth noting, is if you are not connected through the BES you will not be able to get at corporate Intranet sites.

The rest of the software and experience are the same as the Z10, so I won’t repeat that all here. You can read my Z10 review or my review on the beta OS running on the Z10.

So in the end the Q10 is a terrific device with some pretty serious limitations imposed on it by the screen size and dimensions. An excellent messaging work horse but if you are trying to do a lot more with your device you may find yourself reaching for or carrying another device to make up for the screen.

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December 20, 2013 - Posted by | Blackberry 10

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