BlackBerry Q10 review: You'll either love it or hate it
Physical keyboard addicts now have a smartphone designed for them, but no one else may want to suffer the drawbacksFollow @MobileGalen
Because the Q10's display is square, rotating it doesn't help address the small-screen problem, whereas other smartphones with physical keyboards have deeper screens that provide a wider viewing area well suited for videos and Web pages when rotated.
The bottom line is that anyone who uses a non-BlackBerry smartphone will quickly hate the small, inflexible screen. It's simply too undersized to be useful for most activities one does on a smartphone. You end up with either too little space to operate on screen or, in the case of Web pages, impossibly small items that you can't read or interact with. Forget about visiting Web pages or using apps for video editing, photo editing, slideshow editing, text formatting, game playing, or the thousands of tasks an iPhone or Android smartphone can handle.
Even basic Web pages and communications-oriented apps can be hard to use, given how little you can see at any one time and how small text is. I'm talking about email, Twitter, Facebook, and the like. That tiny, nonrotatable screen essentially relegates the Q10 to being a texting device (BlackBerry Messenger, Twitter, email, and so on) -- not a real smartphone. If all you want to do is communicate via text and read very basic info like sports scores, headlines, or stock figures, the Q10 is fine -- but why limit yourself or pay full data rates for a subset of uses?
Tapping into the strengths of the BlackBerry Z10
Outside of the strengths and weaknesses of the physical keyboard, the BlackBerry Q10 works the same way as the BlackBerry Z10, with the well-designed and useful Hub all-messages view, the handy Peek and Flow user interface for switching among apps and checking for new messages, and BlackBerry's multiple levels of security.
The Q10 delivers those three BlackBerry 10 OS capabilities very nicely, despite the very different screen size and the use of the physical keyboard.
At the end of the day, the Q10's physical keyboard limits its utility to a subset of what's possible on the Z10. Even if you're a diehard keyboard purist, you should rethink limiting yourself to the physical keyboard. You lose too much, and most people have discovered that they can adapt after a week or two to the onscreen keyboard. There's a reason touch-only devices account for nearly 100 percent of smartphone sales.
The BlackBerry Q10 costs $580 without a contract from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless; AT&T and Verizon offer it for $200 in exchange for a two-year contract. (The AT&T model is expected to ship on June 18; the other carriers offer it now. Sprint plans to offer the Q10 later this summer.)
The Q10 comes with 32GB of internal storage and sports a MiniHDMI port in addition to the usual MicroUSB port. The back cover is removable so that you can replace the battery or use a higher-capacity battery sled. And it has a good-quality 8-megapixel camera with basic image-settings controls and decent retouching and editing capabilities.
Don't let nostalgia for the 1990s' form of mobile or your own stubbornness cause you to miss out on what a smartphone can really do. But if you just want a messaging device, then go for the BlackBerry Q10 -- it's good at that.
This article, "BlackBerry Q10 review: You'll either love it or hate it," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in mobile computing, read Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog at InfoWorld.com, follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter, and follow InfoWorld on Twitter.
InfoWorld executive editor Galen Gruman analyzes the latest issues in mobile technology.
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Galen is author of iOS 7: The "Just What You Need" Book, OS X Mavericks: The "Just What You Need" Book, MacBook Pro Portable Genius, and iBooks Author For Dummies, as well as lead author of Exploring Windows 8 For Dummies. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen and at Google+.