Comparing the BlackBerry Q10 with an iPhone 5 is admittedly like comparing chalk and cheese. One is great for a purpose, the other is equally great for another. And yet I had to get the two together because, after all, there was a time when I lived and breathed BlackBerry. Back in those days, apps weren’t that big a deal and it was all about battery and reliability.
Having spent a week or so with both phones side by side, I did discover a few things I liked about the BlackBerry. First of all, its design was so comfortable to hold in hand, plus it had a nice weight to it creating a device which just begs to be picked up. It wants to be used.
The keyboard is – as you’d expect – fantastic. Each key has just the right amount of travel and tactile feedback. As a buttonaholic, that suited me right down to the ground, as did the superior battery life and signal strength. I easily got 2-3 days from the BlackBerry’s 2,100mAh cell whereas the iPhone struggles to get past 1. I got an extra 1-2 bars of signal with the Q10 over my iPhone too, giving me 3G/HSPA coverage in areas I’d previously not been able to.
Sadly, there were too many downsides for me to even consider replacing my iPhone 5 with a Q10, and they’re almost all to do with the operating system and ecosystem. Not the hardware. 4 months after launching, BB10 is still struggling to attract developers of quality apps.
The display, although sharp and perfectly suited for the OS, was not at all usable for watching content. Its perfectly square and can only use half the screen, squashing any video down in to a tiny letterbox in the middle of the display. Then again, the phone isn’t made as a media consumption tool. Its the BB10 running modern version of a legacy BlackBerry.
The camera? I compared those in depth last week. In short: both produce sharp and clear images, but the BlackBerry was outperformed in lowlight and often over saturated colors. Particularly greens.
The crux of the matter is that in the old days, smartphones were no where near as powerful as they are now, and neither did they have such great portals to fantastic programs. Apple’s App Store makes the iPhone so much better than it would be if it didn’t have thousands of talented developers creating beautiful apps for iOS. And with the improvements to email and security over the past few years, iOS has not only proved itself as a great media consumption and gaming device for the regular Joe, but also a brilliant tool for enterprise.
BlackBerry used to be the “other” or “work” phone. But now that’s no longer necessary. Given the choice between having an iPhone or BlackBerry to balance work and pleasure, most will side with Apple’s handset.
As you already know, part of me is still a huge BlackBerry fan, so it pains me to say that I struggle to see the platform’s relevance anymore. The Q10 offers the diehard BBerry fan something new and infinitely better than what they previously had, but BB10 is nowhere near Android, iOS or Windows Phone yet. I sincerely hope the platform reaches its potential before the company decided to end the hardware side.
But to end on a positive note. The Q10 is a great communication device. If you’re not someone who cares too much about using your phone for all your media, or playing games or downloading tons of apps, there are few platforms that handle texts, emails and calls with the intuitive quality that BB10 has.
Thanks to Phones 4U/Dialaphone for lending us the BlackBerry Q10.