Gadgets: The BlackBerry Q10 is not so smart

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 June, 2013, 4:20am

A much-anticipated device, the BlackBerry Q10 is now available in Hong Kong. The Q10 has been hailed as BlackBerry's comeback smartphone. But in this case, the customer should beware of false prophets.

The Q10 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, and has 16GB of storage, a 3.1-inch touch screen (720 x 720 resolution, 330ppi), an eight megapixel rear camera, and is 4G LTE ready. Last but not least, the Qwerty keyboard is back.

The device also comes with apps such as Facebook, Documents to Go, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and YouTube.

The initial feel of the device is good. It is solid and sits nicely in the palm of the hand, but the plastic casing makes it feel a little less like a premium device compared to the new HTC One, which has an aluminium body. The screen's display is vibrant and images look sharp.

Setting up the new device is quite easy, and a brief tutorial informs users how to use the new BB10 OS.

Every navigational screen command is done by touch. Those looking for the "Home" or "Back" button are going to be disappointed, as these buttons, which are standard on other BB smartphones, have been removed to enable a larger touch screen. The "Back" command is now the simple gesture of sliding the finger from the bottom edge of the screen upwards.

Setting up e-mail and social media accounts is a breeze thanks to the e-mail client app. Not only does it get you linked to your e-mail quickly, it also helps to log in users to Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, without having to open each app one by one. Data syncing is a bit glitchy and requires a more hands-on endeavour, and some fine tuning in the settings menu. The Q10 is slow to import contacts and calendars, which is rather worrisome at the start, especially when you have to find an important contact.

The overall performance of the new BB10 OS is satisfactory. While this is a significant upgrade to the previous OS, the new one seems rudimentary and lacking of any "wow" factor compared to iOS and Android.

The navigation of pages and access to core functions, is a little frustrating, as there is too much swiping needed to get to them.

Another disappointment is the BB App Store. This was supposed to allow users to download Android apps that could run on the new BB10 OS. That is not quite how it is. Like Nokia's app store, BB has to "tweak" the app before it can run on its OS. This is a major let down, as Instagram and a few other social media apps are not available for use.

The camera is lacking and fails to perform on several levels, most notably colour. Under neon lighting, captured photos were greenish in hue, and under tungsten they were reddish. Only outside, under a nice sunny sky, did photos look normal.

Sadly, the Q10 does not measure up to the hype. It borders on mediocre for a phone with a premium price tag of HK$6,388.

The only saving graces are the Qwerty keyboard and ease of setting up e-mail and social media accounts. Given its high price, it's impossible to recommend this device.