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First impressions using a BlackBerry Q10 (Blackberry OS 10.3.1) April 26, 2015

Posted by Steven in gadgets.
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I am an iPhone 6 (Plus) user. However while planning some trips to the U.S. this year I checked ebay for a modern and unlocked phone I could use while traveling.

I found a really good deal on a BlackBerry Q10.

I was reluctant at first but I read some reviews of the new powerful BlackBerry 10 Operating System. Most critics where quite pleased by the power and flexibility of that recent OS. So I decided to give it a try.

The new device arrived on my doorstep early last week. I’ve put in a SIM and I have been using the Q10 for a couple of days now.

I must say I am impressed.

The device is compact and very well made. It feels dense and reliable, the metal frame adds the feel of value and durability while the glass-weave material is really nice to grip. Even in the office some people stopped me and wanted to look at that strange novel device with that amazingly structured back. The keyboard is amazing. Every key feels tight and gives great clicky feedback when you press it. When I look over at my iPhone 6 physical Home-Button where I had lots of issues in the last years, I must say BlackBerry really knows how to make physical keys.

Reading the reviews I knew I had to get used to some new gestures in order to use the device properly. The setup process was very smooth and with the help of just the right amount of unobtrusive on-screen tutorials BlackBerry made it really easy for me to find my way around.

The “Swipe up to go home” gesture is really intuitive. Also I use “Swipe up to – to wake-up the device” all the time. Just after a few days I caught myself wanting to unlock my iPhone with that gesture!

Although the Q10 is by no means a recent release (in the smartphone cosmos) – it was released 2 years ago in April 2013 – it handles the software extremely well! The unlock gestures give instant feedback with slick transparency animations. The casual swipe up brings you home instantaneously, the peek shows the hub quickly. In may days of using the device and with two large Gmail accounts set up plus Instagram and whatsapp and the like – I was not able to see any stutter at all.

Next to the hardware and the overall feel of BlackBerry 10 – I was most eager to try out the “BlackBerry Hub”. I tend to use smartphones more for messaging services than for other apps or even phone calls itself. The concept of having a truly universal inbox feels utterly compelling to me.

A place which summarizes all your notifications and all your email- plus instant-messages. That is really great. And I must say with some tiny caveats it works really well on my BlackBerry Q10 (10.3.1). In detail: notifications in general are not as polished as on iOS or Android. They are usually really simple texts / a blinking LED or in some cases cute overlays are shown similar to iOS’ banner style notifications. But the hub does an amazing job in summarizing and sorting all your basic details. Missed phone calls, text messages, emails from multiple accounts, Facebook and Twitter notifications. The biggest gripe – and I am sure by now you have heard of it – comes down to native BlackBerry 10 App support. There simply aren’t so many Apps and thus the hub cannot really be extended. That is a shame! I would love to see better support of Google+ places in there… But what by now I cannot live without is Instagram support. So you can download an App called “iGrann” (1,99 USD) which does a fine job of integrating Instagram. However browsing Instagram is a clunky experience and not as fluid and quick as on the official iOS App for example.

Again the biggest gripe is the choice of Apps you have. While BlackBerry integrates Twitter and Facebook directly these Apps still don’t seem as snappy and polished as their iOS or Android counterparts. Look for Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr etc. and you simply won’t find anything.

You can use Android Apps (as I understand based on an Android 4.4 JellyBean runtime which BlackBerry has included in their 10.3.1 OS) and they work fine for the most part. But still you can tell these Apps were not designed for the phone. They take time to load, some controls don’t work or you have to fiddle around with screen settings or back-gestures. So to me Android Apps remain more of a workaround solution.

I do like the Q10 and I am very impressed with BlackBerry’s ideas and highly professional concepts included in the offering. From solid hardware to the impressively designed hub to hundreds of accessible but powerful settings which let you tweak the BlackBerry to your needs. It is unfortunate that some things simply aren’t there yet. So BlackBerry remains an interesting option but needs to improve the App selection to become a true daily driver!

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