I’ve long joked that the primary relationship in my life is with my blackberry, which while on the surface may seem tragic always seemed to make a lot of sense in my ginger head. Ever since I first placed my thumbs on this Canadian bred smartphone in 2008 (the 9000), I fully understood why they were called ‘crackberries’. It was reliable, functional, secure, and incredibly difficult to live without. I found myself relying on my blackberry for more than just communication, it became a central hub to truly organize my life. I used it to schedule, plan, entertain, guide and execute my own business. I even posed with it for my first ever ‘professional’ photo shoot, and the photographer affectionately titled the resulting photo ‘techno/nature/victoria‘. Kudos to Eric Malette for finding a way to get my attention off my blackberry long enough to scout a photo location, and then creating magic as a result:
Sadly, as with most relationships, the rose coloured glasses started to come off and I became increasingly disillusioned with my beloved phone. The constant battery pulls, the little timer box that would come up and never go away – making me angry and desperate in one fluid motion. And of course the updates that never seemed to come, or worse, would come and actually compound whatever problem I had with the phone at the time.
Like most women trapped in a bad relationship, I tried ad nauseum to find ways to make it work. I begged, I pleaded, I UPGRADED. There was the 9700 (too small and it had the same problems as the 9000), the 9800 (significantly better but the small keyboard and poor usb location were immediate dealbreakers) and the 9900. Sadly, even the 9900 running the hyped ‘blackberry 7′ operating system couldn’t save what was clearly broken, and I began to get bitter.
Why did I have to be stuck loving a phone that couldn’t get it’s shit together? Why was I now the object of ridicule at parties where my friends with iPhones would constantly tell me how ‘inferior’ my choice of device was? Why couldn’t RIM find a way to give me a phone that would sufficiently rekindle the romance? I mean, I’m a nice girl with a lot to offer the right piece of technology. Surely I wasn’t asking too much?
The answers to my prayers arrived in the mail in late May thanks to the awesome folks at Telus – a brand, spanking new Q10 was mine to keep as part of their #10BestofBBQ10 project. I was selected as a participant and told to give the phone a whirl for a few months, tweet and share my experience and choose my favourite feature for the Telus website. I did not have to write a formal ‘review’, but I fell so hard for this phone that I thought it was the least I could do.
Simply put, the Q10 is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. It combines the features that I loved so much about my previous blackberries (which were why I stuck with the product as long as I did) with the ‘bells and whistles’ of the iPhone and Android phones that I’ve been hearing so much about. Most importantly, the operating system has eliminated many of the annoying problems I had come to accept as a ‘necessary evil’ of blackberry ownership. I’m happy to say I no longer get the annoying timer as my apps struggle to load, and I’ve yet to need to pull the battery.
The Q10 is beautiful – fast, responsive, fluid and built for people who are communicators. In addition to making phone calls and sending text messages, I’ve programmed four different email accounts, bbm, twitter, facebook, linkedin, foursquare, and whatsapp into the blackberry hub. The ‘hub’ is essentially the heart of the device, always open and always accessible with a quick swipe from the left hand side of the phone. With it’s ‘peek’ technology, I can be browsing the internet or watching a video and at a quick glance see all the messages I have on any of the above mentioned platforms. And those of you who know me know I message. A LOT.
Basically, this phone can do all the things the previous generations of blackberry couldn’t – while retaining what the brand is known for – great messaging. BBM voice and video are excellent, the 8MP camera is a delight (as is the addition of a front facing camera) and the social media applications work quickly and efficiently and look fantastic on the slightly larger screen. Battery life is far better than I would expect for a phone this powerful, and it’s sexy and light. The audio also deserves a shout-out, far out-performing my iPod in terms of clarity and volume.
The only downside to the Q10 would be the lack of apps. There are far more available than on previous models, though it’s still nowhere near the selection on an iPhone or Android. That said, the ones you truly need are all there. I’m currently running a few different messaging apps in addition to every social media app I could ever need, a weather app, the cineplex app, my go-to banking app and a few others which are ‘just for fun’.
I’m going to play devil’s advocate and suggest that the lack of available apps is not truly a ‘negative’ as most blackberry users aren’t looking for apps. They’re looking for a powerful and secure machine. Which is just what you get with the Q10. In my humble opinion, the iPhone and Androids are a toy first and a phone second, whereas the Q10 is a phone first and a toy when you need it to be. Which is exactly as it should be. And while we’re on the topic, it’s a darn fine phone. Crisp and clear sound quality, and I’m pleased to report that I called people in many different parts of the world and never had the annoying ‘can you hear me now? ‘ conversation.
In the end, if you want something to ‘do cool crap with’ – you may not want the Q10. But if you want a reliable, fast, smart and above all functioning phone that can be used for business and pleasure – the Q10 is an excellent choice. And while I’m sure they will protest otherwise, once you start sending messages ten times faster than all your iPhone and Android loving friends, they may start to have some blackberry envy.
For this ginger gal, the rose coloured glasses are back on. I choose a phone like I would choose a mate. Why have a boy when I can have a man? Thank you blackberry, for proving to me that you were worth the wait.
The QWERTY keyboard – obviously my favourite feature and the reason I’ve stayed loyal to Blackberry for so long. The Q10 makes the QWERTY we all know and love even better with it’s comfortable, well spaced and incredibly responsive keys. If you’re a physical keyboard aficionado as Dan Levy mentioned in his review, this is the phone for you.
The Hub – I personally really enjoy being able to integrate all my messages in one place and see them at a glance when using other applications. Slick, fast and makes multi-tasking a breeze.
The LED indicator – call me old school, but I still love that red blinking light. It quickly and discretely alerts me to new messages, and the fact that the phone doesn’t light up the way many other smart phones do helps save battery life. Also, if you want to be really fancy there are still some great apps that let you colour code your light! Kids should like that right??? Shiny!
The Screen – slightly bigger than on the legacy devices, the Q10 is beautiful, bright and a great size considering the phone retains the physical keyboard. The touchscreen is also incredibly responsive to the touch, and the swipe functions are easy to learn (even for this Luddite).
The Speed – this is a speedy machine. Part of my job freelancing for BroadwayWorld Toronto involves live tweeting events, award shows and red carpets. I’ve always been incredibly fast with the physical keyboard, but the slow browsing speed and/or multitasking abilities on legacy blackberries used to be a problem. I’m pleased to report that the Q10 passed this test with flying colours. I live tweeted two separate award shows during my test run, and was able to snap photos, capture quotes, tweet and FB updates all while browsing the net and streaming the awards. Pretty slick indeed.
The Battery – I’m very hard on my phones. I’m on the go almost 24/7 and friends joke about my ability to carefully suss out the most convenient wall outlet as soon as I enter a new space. I’ve got blackberry chargers stuffed everywhere – in three different locations at home, in both my ‘go-to’ purses, in my desk and in my car. A gal just can’t risk being without her device! So I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I could go all day long with heavy use on the Q10 and not need to recharge. In addition, it is a very slow drain when not in use. I put it aside for nine hours with less than 18% battery remaining and set the alarm – I was shocked when the phone was still ‘alive’ and the alarm went off nine hours later!
The Apps – As I mentioned above, the app selection is nowhere near what you would get on an iPhone or an Android. I suspect this won’t be much of a concern to most Q10 buyers as they are likely looking to the phone more for work purposes and if they’re previous blackberry owners they will be used to the small app selection. That being said, if blackberry wants to start stealing market share back, they need to step up their app game.
The Copy/Paste Function - As Mommy Gearest also pointed out, the Copy and Paste function is just plain weird on the Q10. It may seem like a small thing but it’s been a constant source of annoyance for me. Gone are the days where I could copy anything from anywhere, and the touch screen function is finicky when trying to highlight and copy. I didn’t think this would be a big deal until I tried to copy my own phone number (of all things) and wasn’t able to grab it from an existing text message or FB message. Maybe this is something that could be fixed with an OS upgrade?
YouTube – no app? Really? That was disappointing. I know the app selection is mentioned above, but for me the lack of a YouTube app stands alone. The main page icon just takes you to the mobile page for YouTube, and I also found myself mission the functionality of the 9800 which allowed the screen to tilt for better YouTube video viewing.
The Box: The Q10 comes with surprisingly little for a flagship phone. Perhaps I’m being picky, but I was very disappointed to discover I didn’t get any kind of holster or case with the phone (and cramming it into my 9900 holster proved ineffective given the location of the power button) and there was no memory card included. The headphones are a nice touch, but they don’t make up for lack of other things which one has become accustomed to coming standard with a brand new phone.
In summary, I agree with what my #10BestofBBQ10 counterparts have said – if you love a physical keyboard and/or have been a long time blackberry supporter, you’re going to love this phone. If you are sitting on the fence (having been a blackberry lover who jumped ship in recent years) this MAY win you back. If you don’t need a physical keyboard and are already team iPhone or Android, this phone isn’t going to make you return to RIM (though I certainly wish it would!).