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BlackBerry's Q10: Worth the Wait?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I've been using the new Q10 phone from BlackBerry (BBRY) for the past week.

In some ways, I find it extremely innovative and it makes me realize how little Apple (AAPL) has moved forward the iPhone since its debut in 2007.

In other ways, the Q10 has given me a whole new appreciation for how buttoned up and well thought out so many details were as part of the iPhone.

To cut to the chase, I doubt very little that existing iPhone or Android users will flock to this new phone from BlackBerry, although it is a very solid phone which I appreciate more the longer I'm a user of it.

However, for the long-suffering 70+ million BlackBerry users who've been on five-year-old phones with incredibly limited mobile phone software compared to what's currently available from other vendors, this new phone will seem light years ahead and they will love it.

What's good about the Q10?

  • It's a power email and calendaring phone. If this is your life and how you live day to day, you probably already have a BlackBerry. This new phone continues to deliver a very solid experience for you.
  • Tactile keyboard. I used to use a BlackBerry up to 2008. I'm one of those people who struggled with the move to a glass keyboard. You still hear people who are on BlackBerrys or who have just moved over to glass keyboards complaining about them and longing for the old tactile.

    However, I'll be honest. I'm now used to glass and found it very hard for the first four days to get back used to the old keyboard. It really becomes what you get used to -- which is why I do think CEO Thorsten Heins was smart to come out with the Z10 first and show the company can do those all-glass phones as well.

    If you like tactile keyboards, the Q10 is great -- in fact, it's the only tactile keyboard out there now, so go for it. One more thing, however. BlackBerry's done a great job with the predictive text on both the Z10 and the Q10. It's a far better typing experience on glass (or keyboard) than on the iPhone.


  • Battery life. BlackBerry has been very smart in letting the phone darken quickly and then come back to life to easily sip battery. Compared to the iPhone 5, the Q10 feels like it could go twice as long on a full charge. You start to realize how bad the iPhone battery is when you carry around the Q10 for a couple of days.
  • Form factor and weight. It feels slightly lighter than an iPhone and the keyboard is a bit wider to make typing a bit more comfortable.
  • That blinking red light to indicate when you have a new email. God how I missed that feature.
  • The swiping features. At first, this new set of swiping features is the most disorienting aspect of the Q10. I think existing and non-BlackBerry users will struggle with this for a few days and may complain that they don't understand it. However, it does start to click after a few days and I then really started to appreciate it and miss it when I was back using my iPhone. It does lead to a great fluid interaction with apps and email on the phone.

What's not so good in the Q10?

  • Apps are still limited. It's true that you have many of the big ones, but the broader selection is sure nicer on the iPhone or Android. It'd be nice to have my NBA- or NFL-dedicated apps.

    Instead I only have ESPN, CBS or NHL. If I was BlackBerry, I'd pay money to certain marquis apps to get them on the platform (like Instagram, Netflix (NFLX) and Yahoo! Weather). All that said, the company is off to a good start.

  • The Twitter app sucks on BlackBerry. This isn't BlackBerry's fault. Twitter's just done a horrible build of its app on BlackBerry. The app doesn't update quickly and there's no way to view Direct Messages on the app. BlackBerry makes a big deal of its "Hub" where you can go in a view all your messages in one spot. However, who cares if Twitter updates me about some new message I have 20 minutes later?
  • The Hub isn't that great at all. BlackBerry fanboys make it sound like every Android and iOS user is going to be jealous of this new feature putting all your messages in one spot. But opening Facebook (FB) or Twitter messages in the Hub doesn't let you do anything with them. You've got to go back in the original apps for that. Also, the timing of updates seems slower compared to iOS.

    The BlackBerry rose to fame for immediate delivery of email messages with that flashing red light to let you know. It's just not acceptable for critical third-party apps like Facebook or Twitter not to immediately update in real time.

  • Web browsing. Several problems here. BlackBerry fanboys really try to portray that the new BlackBerry browser is faster than iPhone. I saw no difference over several Web sites on several days.

    What's worse, though, is how, when I click on a Web link in an email or a tweet, the Q10 opens it up on that site Web site -- not its mobile site. I get the whole honking Web page on my little Q10 screen. If I enlarge it, then I'm forced to scroll right and then scroll left for each and every line.

    This is just a horrible experience and terribly maddening. I thought of how my iPhone does it -- especially with the Reader feature -- and never have missed a phone feature more. This is just an obvious thing to fix and BlackBerry fell down on it.

  • The touch screen. It's great to have the combination of touch and the tactile keyboard. However, the sensitivity of the touch on the Q10 makes me feel like Wreck-It Ralph when I'm using it versus a doctor with a scalpel on the iPhone. Trying to edit sentences of an email and doing cut and paste is very difficult.

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