It’s nearing the end of the year, which is typically the time that I prefer to look around for a new phone if I’ve made plans to purchase one. This year a ton of great phones have made their debut; unfortunately, none of them really tickle my fancy so much that I want to either A.) drop hundreds of dollars on them or B.) sign a two-year commitment for them. I can’t explain why, I just haven’t been colored that impressed with any phones this year. I was looking at the iPhone 6 and the new Moto X, but I don’t feel like I just have to have either one of them right now.
I was planning to get comfy with my iPhone 4s until next spring (or possibly until the release of a new Nexus) when I was offered the chance to use a BlackBerry Q10 if I wanted instead. Although BlackBerry 10 hasn’t exactly been something I have been interested in lately, I figured why not try it out? It’s the last major platform that I haven’t used for an extended period of time, so it seemed like a good way to get my “new phone” fix in without having to make a commitment about it. Plus, I got to visit my old friend physical QWERTY keyboard, so I decided to go for it.
I like the BlackBerry Q10 as a device. The form is familiar in that old fashioned BlackBerry way, the physical keys are pleasant to use (albeit I am a bit slower at using them now) and the phone is neither too light nor too heavy. The phone is also very easy for me to use with one hand, which is an important factor in any phone for me.
That being said, my experience with the phone’s software sings a different tune. Perhaps it’s because I’ve become so accustomed to Android and iOS, but the interface is definitely taking some getting used to. BlackBerry 10 is very gesture-based, so getting used to which gesture does what has been a little confusing for me. Like any new phone, I’m starting to get used to it. I’m also getting used to using BlackBerry Hub over having a notification center, which isn’t too different, but swiping all the way to the left isn’t as intuitive as being able to swipe down for notifications no matter what screen you’re on. It’s still better than the complete absence of a notification center, which was my experience with Windows Phone back in January.
Animations and loading times are smooth for the most part, but I’ve encountered some hiccups here and there. It doesn’t help that my phone’s software is stuck with BlackBerry 10.1 despite BlackBerry 10.2 is available. My OTA update hasn’t come through yet, and my phone is having issues being recognized by computer (which no other phone has had issues with, which makes it looks like it’s a BlackBerry issue). This also means that until I can figure out a way to get the 10.2 update, I can’t sideload Android applications onto the phone either. That means my only options for apps come from the BlackBerry App World, which have slim pickings, but BlackBerry never was terribly great for apps. The 10.3 update should make app life for BlackBerry 10 users much better, though.
What BlackBerry is good for is being a phone. E-mail was easy to set up and the call quality on this phone is actually really good in my opinion. Battery life has also been great as it’s been able to get me from sun up to when I go to bed with no problem. But this might also have to do with the fact that as of right now I don’t do much other than e-mail, text, Facebook, and make a couple of phone calls. But hey, if that’s all you want in a phone, this phone is great for that while maintaining a good charge.
The best way I can think of to explain my experience with BlackBerry 10 so far is with a baking analogy. Android and iOS are like those delicious pre-made cake mixes that you have to actively try and mess up in order to make it taste bad. BlackBerry, on the other hand, is like trying to make a cake out of scratch. It’s a lot harder to get good results because you have to work at it. That’s what I feel has to be done with BlackBerry: you have to work at it to make it a good smartphone experience. It’s not all laid out in plain text for you. With that being said, over the next few days I hope to make a delicious BlackBerry cake. Or at least a pie or a tart, or something.
Images via Mashable, Getty Images