Younger brother BlackBerry Q10 has come to steal the spotlight away from older Z10. Contrary to popular opinion during the launching of the Z10 that BlackBerry has completely abandoned the form-factor of slabs with hardware keyboard, BlackBerry has released a second BB 10 device, the Q10 sporting the manufacturer’s trademark keyboard.
Some suspected that this would happen eventually, why not? Surely, no one thought that the slate form (all-touch slabs) will be the staple design among BlackBerry 10 devices…right? BB has been making money the last decade making QWERTY bar phones, of course it’s pretty much understandable that they will derive device designs from their bread-and-butter.
The question, though, is…what’s the flagship device of BlackBerry? Is it the newer BlackBerry Q10 or the BlackBerry Z10 which cleared the floor (at least a portion of it) for BlackBerry 10?
The Insecure Older Brother: Z10
Oh boy, sure enough, big brother had a lot of things going against it when it was launched this February. Android and iOS can run circles around the BlackBerry Z10 from the moon and back, loyal BlackBerry users were enraged at the sacrilege of a device kowtowing to the demands of the mass market (not CrackBerries) and the impossibility of updating their clunky touch-and-type slabs to BB 10 and the most damning was the way people reacted to the Z10: the treatment of the Z10 was lukewarm at best and hostile at worst.
Simply put, the Z10 is the trailblazer for the whole operating system, it is a benchmark device. If this flops, then the whole series is toast. That’s how important the Z10 is to BlackBerry and according to sources; it has done remarkably well specially in BlackBerry’s home base in Canada and in Europe.
The specs of the Z10 are stunning and beyond imagination if you’ve been using ‘Berries since time immemorial; however for the contemporary user, it is plain mid-range. A Krait dual-core 1.5GHz processor is nothing to write about (Android flagships utilize quad-core and even octa-core processors) while 2GB RAM is just staple for flagships.
The Z10’s screen is also nothing to write about, a regular 4.2-inch LCD screen (1280 x 720 pixels) compared to the monstrous Android 5-inchers and 6.3-inchers. The camera is industry standard 8 megapixels for the rear camera and 2 megapixels for the front-facing. Overall, its specs are comparable to mid-range Droids while its price is closer to that of the high-range Droids.
However, from the standpoint of a normal BlackBerry user, that’s been using ‘Berries ever since, the specs are just awesome. Furthermore, there’s 16GB of flash storage and a microSD slot for further expansion and the Z10 supports LTE with its blazing fast speed that can reach up to 100mbps.
The spanking new operating system, BlackBerry 10, is a joy to use, most notably the one-stop messaging folder, BlackBerry Hub and the gesture-based user interface. It certainly looks and feels more advanced than either iOS or Android. A solid combination of hardware and software, the phone is very buttery smooth comparable to the latest Windows Phones that also use the outdated specs. Minus, I might add, the general obsolescence that a user feels whenever using the boring and rigid user interface of Windows Phone.
The problem though, is the rather small apps repository of BlackBerry App World compared to iOS, Android and even Windows Phone. That can be solved by sideloading Android apps, though, because they’re unoptimized for the Z10, the apps are awkward to use and are buggy.
The Upstart Younger Brother: BlackBerry Q10
Enter the younger brother, sporting the family’s crown jewel: a full, hardware QWERTY keyboard. This has become BlackBerry’s trademark design, trouncing attempts by the competition to imitate it (Samsung’s BlackJack series and Nokia’s E-series). However, the rise in popularity of Android and iOS gradually took its toll on the smartphone market reliant on BlackBerry products.
While the Z10 might be mistaken for an iPhone (it does look like one), few can dispute that the BlackBerry Q10 is not a BlackBerry even if the branding is removed. There is something with its heft, the way it feels in one’s hand that screams “BlackBerry!” something that can’t be said of the Z10 that can blend effortlessly with the smartphones being released nowadays. The Z10 is more modern while the BlackBerry Q10 is more of a continuation of the Bold/Curve line-up.
Save for the smaller yet better AMOLED 3.1-inch screen with a lower resolution (720 x 720 pixels), the specs are the same with the Z10. The only glaring difference is of course, the form factor. The hardware keyboard does make a difference in typing. While on-screen keyboards are not advisable for typing long documents, the BlackBerry Q10’s keyboard handles all of them with ease.
But is that alone a compelling justification for being named flagship?
What to get then?
From the point of view of a traditional CrackBerry, the choice is an easy one. Berries are known for their awesome keyboards, why should the new BB operating system field a different flagship? After all, the smartphone market is already crowded with full-touch slates with little to differentiate each flagship in terms of form factor.
For the new user, though, a phone with the same old keyboard, as awesome though it is, chimes of old times, a bygone age of mobile phones. The renewed counter-offensive of BlackBerry should be led by Z10s because it symbolizes a new age, a new course for a BlackBerry not only for email geeks or businessmen but for casual users as well.
The family feud, though, can wait. Indeed, it should wait. Isn’t it more logical to assume that both are flagships just like Samsung’s Galaxy Note and S series?
The ‘Berry family simply couldn’t afford any division from within right now. The Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 needs to work together to restore the family fortunes and take their rightful share of the consumer pie Android and iOS are greedily munching.
And prevent BlackBerry from becoming just a topping for the said pie being munched by iOS and Android.