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Having used Android phones for the past 3 years, especially the Galaxy Note, I never really thought I could move to a smaller phone, let alone another OS, but I have to say, the BlackBerry Q10 presented a compelling case.
I recently happened to get my hands on one of these (a Blackberry Q10), and while I wasn’t even initially prepared to give it a chance, I have to say the solid build and overall feel of the phone in my hands eventually made me give in. My biggest concern however was lack of Android; even as I liked the Q10’s build and physical keyboard, I knew that it was going to be a short affair at best.
My fears were compounded when I first booted the phone, faced with a tutorial I wasn’t willing to try and rushing in to find a user interface that felt odd and different. Perhaps it was my bias against BlackBerry (after all, we keep hearing its doomed); but I was pretty sure they got it all wrong.
Nevertheless, as I configured Wifi and moved ahead, the Q10, and the BlackBerry OS was silky smooth, there was virtually no lag and the phone was extremely responsive. The screen, even though much smaller than my Galaxy Note, was vivid, fairly bright and responded well to touch. I also kind of started liking the swipe up to minimize gesture, which was an easy way to get apps out of the way without having to kill them.
Similarly, the camera, at 8 megapixels, was pretty decent at taking photos, and the phone, with 2 GBs of RAM was pretty darn good at multi-tasking. While we all know that high-end Android phones offer the same level of performance, I was frankly surprised, especially given the fact that the Q10 only has a dual-core processor.
Next I wanted to know whether I can somehow get Android apps to run on BlackBerry OS, and I could vaguely remember having read that there was a compatibility feature in there somewhere. On further reading I found out that BB OS 10.2 allowed you to directly install Android apps (APK files) and run them, albeit that meant you can’t access the Play Store.
I extracted some APK files from my old Samsung Galaxy Note (it’s rooted) and copied them over to the BlackBerry Q10, and to my delight, they installed without a hitch and ran just fine. Next I wanted to try some Google apps, mainly Gmail and Google Maps, but both of them didn’t work.
Still pretty excited, I decided to get my Mini SIM card chopped up into a Micro SIM and use it with the Q10. The call quality was pretty decent and I loved how all my texts when to a singular hub, and even showed up as notifications while I used other apps so I could reply to them quickly without stopping whatever I was doing.
Essentially I added my Gmail, Twitter, Whatsapp and Skype accounts to the hub, and the phone picked up my Google contacts without any trouble at all.
Now i’ve been using the Q10 for 3 days and I’ve even installed Amazon’s Android App Store onto it, which has given me access to tons of free Android apps, most of which worked as expected. I was also able to find an older APK file for Google Maps which worked on BB OS perfectly (except I can’t sync it with my Google account as yet).
I can’t say for sure right now, but I am actually willing to give the Q10 a chance to become my main phone. While I know any high-end Android phone can offer nearly the same experience (sans the physical keyboard), I feel the main reason I am liking the Q10 is that it actually surprised me.
It’s a great device and BlackBerry OS is a pretty solid effort by RIM. Being my first tryst with BB, I feel the Q10 has surpassed any negatively biased expectations I had.
I will be trying other stuff on the Q10 while my Galaxy Note gets to rest for a few days (perhaps). If you’re wondering about moving from Android to BlackBerry, I would say it’s worth a shot and is definitely not as bad an experience as people would have you believe.
My major gripes though are lack of integrated Google services (which means I can’t access Google Analytics , Adsense and Hangouts Apps) and the absence of Swiftkey, which was literally a miracle when it comes to typing out messages. Even though I am loving the physical keyboard on the Q10, it takes some practice and time to get used to it. However, I have to add, in its defense, the physical keyboard does come with Swiftkey-like predictions, which help a lot.
This has been my Android to Blackberry experience so far, and I’ll keep you guys updated as I discover more. For now, i’m falling for it.
You might be interested in: 20 Best High Quality Wallpapers for BlackBerry Q10
PS: As a reader pointed out, I hadn’t mentioned the battery life in this post. For the past 3 days I’ve been testing my Q10 to the limit, with 24-hour Wifi connectivity, e-mail, Twitter and WhatsApp polling, location services switched on,, brightness cranked to full and constant fiddling (I am excited about it) – despite all this the Q10 is lasting around 22 hours before dropping down to 10% and needing a charge. Given this, it’s safe to assume that it can last well over a day and a half under more reasonable circumstances. I will add more details as I continue to test things.