Q10 Failure: I'm Going Back to the Old BlackBerry

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- After 13 years of using all previous BlackBerry (BBRY) models every day, andnow one month with the all-new Q10, I'm going back to the previousBlackBerry. The new Q10 simply failed me in a couple of criticalareas where compromise is not an option.

In brief, to spare you the suspense, the most critical failing in myexperience with the BlackBerry Q10 was that it was unable tosynchronize my Gmail address book with accuracy and/or reasonablespeed. There are a couple of other big problems, too, but I'll get tothose later.

Before you start penning your hate mail, let me say this: Mysituation may vary from yours, for multiple reasons. I'm speakingfrom the perspective of someone who uses only Gmail accounts forcontacts sync. My address book is also large, not too far away fromGmail's 25,000 contacts limit.

If you are on a corporate server, or your contacts synchronize overUSB, or you're with Yahoo! ( YHOO) email or Microsoft's ( MSFT) Outlook.com -- or perhaps even if youhave only very few contacts in your Gmail account -- who knows, youmay not experience what I experienced, and therefore be just fine. Iwouldn't know. This review is from the perspective of a regularindividual who only uses only Gmail for contacts sync.

What do I mean by the Q10 being unable to synchronize with the Gmailaddress book? The problem manifested in three stages:

Stage 1: The initial address book sync took at least in the ballparkof 24 hours. That said, one doesn't know exactly, because the Q10doesn't provide a count of how many contacts you have. You samplesome number of contacts, and see if they made it to the device.

In comparison to a relatively new high-end Android phone, a categoryof which I have tested several recently, the Androids appear to havealmost no latency in this initial availability of the Gmail addressbook. I haven't measured exactly, perhaps because it appears synchedinstantly after you input your Google ( GOOG) credentials into the Android.

Stage 2: Once you believe the initial sync is done, it's time to makesome additions and changes on each side -- Q10 and Gmail. Long storyshort, some changes appear on the other end, eventually. Othersdon't.

This is the critical point beyond which I cannot look. If you have acar, it absolutely needs to do two things: Start and stop. Everythingelse can be compromised at least to some degree. Starting andstopping cannot.

The equivalent of a car starting and stopping is for a smartphonethat the address book synchronization must reflect 100% fidelity. Allchanges and additions must appear on the other side, hopefully withina few short minutes. Not hours or days, let alone forever.

If a smartphone cannot pass this test, it's the end of the argument.Full stop. In my month with the Q10, it failed this test -- again,based on Gmail only, and a large address book.

Stage 3: After you reboot the device, or just shut it down -- say,overnight -- it takes a long time for the address book to return tolife once you fire up the Q10. Initially it tells you that you don'thave an address book. Imagine my panic the first time I saw this!But then, just wait perhaps a few minutes, and it has startedrebuilding. When has it finished rebuilding? Again, with no numberto track, it's impossible to say.

This leads me to the other problem with the Q10, and that's the lessquantifiable issue of general slowness in accomplishing things.

BlackBerry's chief hallmark had always been how quickly you "got stuffdone." For example, answer an email, edit an email, add someone tothe address book, look up someone in the address book, and similarbasic needs that you perform constantly.

A key problem of the Q10 is that almost all of those things now takemore time to accomplish. Just try to copy/paste a piece of text, sayin an email or in a contacts record. It was ultra-fast on the oldBlackBerry; much slower on the new one.

It is nice that the Q10 solved many of the old BlackBerry'sshortcomings, such as the basic strength of the operating system. TheQ10 has a stable OS, and all the apps seem stable. It now can handlea key app such as Skype.

However, fixing many of the old BlackBerry's shortcomings is not astep forward if it also kills some of the old BlackBerry's keyadvantages. You have to be able to move at lightning speed to answeremails, edit text and handle the address book. The new Q10 has lostsome of these key legacy BlackBerry advantages.

While the BlackBerry is laying down, let me pile on and kick it in thegut one more time: It sometimes runs hot, literally. I have no ideawhy, but it's sometimes so hot you are afraid it might explode.

I thought of frying an egg on the Q10 and filming it, but that wouldhave voided the warranty, and there was no way I was going to keep itbeyond the 30 day return period. In either case, you know whathappens when a smartphone runs hot? Yes, the battery life issignificantly reduced.

A hallmark of BlackBerrys of yore had been superior battery life. Notso with the Q10. As it prepared itself for egg-frying duty, batterylife fell like a rock. This happened almost every day.

So is there nothing positive to say about the BlackBerry Q10? Yes, there is.

For starters, the basic form factor, choice of materials andergonomics are fantastic. The device feels just right in the hand.The legendary keyboard is better than ever.

In the OS, the "hub" which shows all of your email and other accounts,is a great way to quickly scan all your correspondence. The fact thatBox and Dropbox are baked right into the device, is neat.

The new interface paradigm is a mixed blessing. On the upside, thefact that you wake it up from sleep simply by swiping up is betterthan the competition's solution of a button-press. On the downside,once you have made that swipe, you have to keep swiping to get towhere you want to go. BlackBerry is up to something here, but in theend I don't think that the total solution is necessarily ahead of thecompetition.

If the BlackBerry Q10 isn't the right choice, what do I propose topeople who want to type on a keyboard? I have two main branches:

1. As the title of this article states, you can return to the oldBlackBerry. Perhaps your previous old BlackBerry was even older, andyou need to keep the apps on a BlackBerry 7.1 device to the absoluteminimum -- email, address book, perhaps calendar and WhatsApp.

This scenario basically implies that you are likely to augment theprevious-generation BlackBerry with an Android or Windows Phone, orperhaps an iPad. It's already been the solution for many people, andit may continue to be the best one going forward.

2. A creative solution for some people could be to replace theBlackBerry with a Chromebook! No, I have not gone crazy. Hear me outon this:

Let's say your primary phone is a Samsung Galaxy S4, which in myopinion is the first all-touchscreen smartphone with a good keyboard.You can respond to emails with a sentence or two on that one.

For longer emails, a laptop didn't use to be an option. It took aminute or more to boot up, and then you needed to connect it to WiFi.For swift action, it was a non-starter.

Now, however, Google's Chromebooks have changed this equation. Youcan carry a 2.4 lbs Chromebook, and you can have a Chromebook withintegrated cellular data connectivity. You fire it up in 10 secondsor less, and then you're connected without any time-consumingbureaucracy.

So you now have an awesome laptop, up and running -- includingconnected positively everywhere -- almost instantly. In an unexpectedway, it has replaced much of my BlackBerry needs. Google needs toadvertise this!

It's a shame that the new BlackBerry Q10, which has so many greatthings going for it, misses some of the necessary basics -- at leastin my testing. Why doesn't BlackBerry make an Android version of thiswonderful hardware?

At the time of publication the author was long GOOG andAAPL, and short MSFT.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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