Review by Andrew Kameka on Tuesday June 25, 2013.
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BlackBerry took its time to ensure that its BlackBerry 10 smartphone was agile enough to meet the needs of new fans without alienating its traditional band of supporters. Months after the release of the BlackBerry Z10, the BlackBerry Q10 has arrived to provide a mix of old and new, and make potential fans face an important question: what's the best BlackBerry phone?
Choosing between the BlackBerry Z10 and the BlackBerry Q10 would appear to be a simple task. One smartphone is a touchscreen device that's great for media consumption and still has enough productivity to meet the needs of work and play. The other BB10 smartphone has a QWERTY keyboard that provides physical feedback and gives users the touch-oriented input option they crave. The physical keyboard has fallen out of favor in the smartphone world, but the BlackBerry Q10 has stubbornly found a way to carve a niche for itself in today's all-touch environment. The simple way to pick between the two would be to say that one person either falls into that niche or doesn't.
Despite the seeming simplicity of choices and distinguishing form factors, picking between the Q10 and Z10 is not as easy as it looks. The two 10s actually share quite a bit when it comes to hardware. Both phones have a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB internal and 32GB external storage options, micro USB and micro HDMI ports, and an 8-megapixel rear camera with a 2-megapixel front camera. The phones are remarkably similar from an internal standpoint, and even their button positioning mirror each other.
The BlackBerry paths diverge when comparing displays and battery. The BlackBerry Z10 has a wonderful 4.2-inch 720p LCD display while the Q10 has only a 3.1-inch 720x720 Super AMOLED display. The BlackBerry Z10 is by far the more desirable screen because of its size advantage. The 15:9 aspect ratio is far better for browsing the web, viewing photos, and watching videos, three of the most important factors of using a smartphone. Throw in the built-in advantage when comparing gaming options and the Z10 emerges as the clear winner.
However, the Q10 has a few tricks up its sleeves. Not everyone needs a big screen for video or cares about gaming; if they did, odds are they wouldn't opt for a BlackBerry device. The 3.1-inch display is still big enough to browse the web and the browser is great on either phone. The smaller screen on the Q10 becomes an advantage when it comes to battery life because its 2,100mAh battery lasts noticeably longer than the 1,800mAh battery of the Z10. Large screens use more power, so small screens, especially AMOLED ones that have software geared for that display type, use less.
The easy answer to picking the best BlackBerry is that if you love a physical keyboard, the BlackBerry Q10 is the way to go; if you love a big beautiful screen and having more app options, the BlackBerry Z10 is for you. However, keyboard aficionados should challenge themselves and consider the BlackBerry Z10 as the better option because of more app choices, a better screen, and a fantastic software keyboard that bests helps them transition from the physical to virtual realms.
Below is a BlackBerry Q10 and BlackBerry Z10 video comparison highlighting the similarities and differences between the two devices. If you still need more convincing to lean towards either device, read our full BlackBerry Q10 review and then the BlackBerry Z10 review to get an in-depth look at each phone to help best inform your decision.
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.