AMSTERDAM: BLACKBERRY, the company formerly known as Research in Motion (RIM), showed off its yet to be launched Qwerty smartphone the Blackberry Q10 at the Blackberry Jam Europe developer conference today, and The INQUIRER got some hands-on time with the device.
Though Blackberry said its Blackberry Q10 is all set in terms of hardware, it made it clear that there are still some software tweaks to be made before it hits the market, which is expected sometime in April.
Design and build
On first impressions, the Blackberry Q10 looks and feels sturdy and robust. This is due to its glass weave construction on the back of the device, which Blackberry says is twice as strong as plastic, as well as a stainless steel chassis that wraps around the sides of the device. Not only does this improve build quality but it also gives the Blackberry Q10 a more premium look compared to the firm's older, mostly plastic models. In our opinion, Blackberry has certainly aimed the Blackberry Q10 at the business user, making it more durable in urban environments.
The power switch sits on the top while the volume keys are hosted on the right hand side. Measuring 120x67x10.4mm, the Blackberry Q10 doesn't feel as wide to hold as it sounds on paper and sits quite nicely in the hand. Weighing 139g it's also not too heavy, feeling similar to an iPhone 4. Though weighing slightly less would have been a nice touch, the weight does make it feel more durable, as though it might withstand a few knocks.
What sets the Blackberry Q10 apart from its older brother the Blackberry Z10 is that it has a 35-key physical Qwerty keyboard, echoing the firm's older devices. Blackberry told The INQUIRER that the keyboard is not only the largest it has ever built into a QWERTY smartphone, at three percent bigger than the keyboard on the Bold 9900, but it has been strengthened with horizontal frets that run from edge to edge to make it more robust. These stainless steel frets also ensure that keys stay in place and don't get caught on clothes.
The keys have decent travel when typing and are pretty easy to operate, with no mistakes made when I typed "Hello, I'm at Blackberry Jam Europe". The keyboard is also backlit, so typing in dark environments should be a breeze.
The Blackberry Q10 touts a square 3.1in touch-enabled Super AMOLED display with 720x720 resolution at 330ppi. During our short hands-on test, we found that the screen had a good colour reproduction.
The phone uses mainly black backgrounds for apps, which Blackberry said it designed to save battery life. As a result, text is clear, even when the phone is held at an angle.
The screen responds well to touch too, though it feels a little strange operating a square touchscreen that is relatively small in relation to most touchscreen smartphones on the market. We are sure that this will take some getting used to, as the Qwerty keyboard needs to be used along with the touchscreen.
Running the BlackBerry 10 operating system (OS), the Blackberry Q10 seems generally responsive to commands. However, it's worth noting that our test model wasn't completely finished in terms of software, so we'll have to wait to get our hands on a final Blackberry Q10 device in order to fully review it.
Nevertheless, from our initial experiences of swiping through the user interface, the Blackberry Q10 seemed responsive despite its rather average internal specifications, which include a dual-core 1.5 GHz CPU along with 2GB of RAM.
There's 16GB of flash storage installed, which is also upgradable via a MicroSD card. There's also 4GT LTE support for those willing to pay more for a superfast mobile internet connection.
Blackberry has yet to reveal the Blackberry Q10's estimated battery life and talk time.
On first impression we were quite surprised by the Blackberry Q10. Although it doesn't differ much in overall appearance from Blackberry's older Bold series smartphones, you'll see on closer inspection that the firm has made an effort to set the Blackberry Q10 apart from older models of Qwerty devices by adding some subtle unique features.
However, because it is early days yet and the Blackberry Q10 won't be launched for at least another two months, there are many features we weren't able to test fully. Check back later for a full review of the Blackberry Q10 to see how it stands up against its competitors. µ