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BlackBerry Q10 review: Qwerty lovers rejoice!

Matt Hamblen | April 25, 2013
The new BlackBerry smartphone features a real keypad, along with some great new features.

A feature called Remember lets a document's format -- including colors, exotic fonts, etc. -- be transferred intact to the smartphone. In other words, if you have an email with underlining and a numbered list, it will appear with those features on the Q10 -- something that's unusual for smartphones. I found this feature worked great when reading unusual fonts and notes in emails received on the Q10 review unit from desktop users.

Busy executives will love that BB 10.1 adds support for receiving and reading .msg and .eml attachments in email.

When one name is inserted into an email, you also now get suggestions for adding other contacts -- something that makes sense if an email really needs to go to a team instead of just one person. And you can cut, copy or paste phone numbers into and out of the dialer screen, which is a time- and frustration-saver.

Version 10.1 adds something that BlackBerry believes will be a hit with older users and users in other countries: PIN-to-PIN messaging. It allows you to send instant messages over the data channel (not the separate texting channel) by using a person's specific seven-digit or eight-digit alphanumeric PIN address that was assigned to the phone by BlackBerry. I recall that the BlackBerry PIN network worked for emergency assistance for some BlackBerry users in New York City's financial district during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when other communications links had failed.

My biggest concern with the BB 10.1 OS is that, in my tests, boot time averaged 84 seconds, which is much longer than on typical smartphones, and even above the 70 or so seconds on the Z10. While you may not power your phone off and on frequently, you will definitely notice the delay when you land after a long flight and need to quickly make a call or text.

High-end security features

Security is a constant worry for many handheld users, especially in the government and financial sectors, and BlackBerry has tried to address their needs head-on with BB 10.1.

One feature included in BB 10.1 is what BlackBerry's Michael Clewley calls "BES advanced policies." (The official name BlackBerry uses is Enterprise Mobility Management -- Regulated Policies.) It gives IT shops the ability to tightly control the devices in ways they see fit -- such as disabling a camera or location services on a phone remotely.

BlackBerry says its advanced policies capability will apply through use of its BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES) 10 server for operations where a government or private security-conscious organization would want to distribute Q10s to employees.

Other business customers can take advantage of BlackBerry's new Balance feature, which made its debut with the Z10. With Balance, a user can blend both work and personal email streams into a single email stream. (Phones with BES advanced policies set require users to go to separate work and personal email inboxes.) Other apps are divided into separate work and personal containers.

 

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