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Q10's a premium phone with best materials and build: Ivor Soans

IBNLive.com
Jun 07, 2013 at 06:06pm IST

BlackBerry has launched its much-awaited physical keyboard-equipped BlackBerry Q10 in India at Rs 44,990. The device comes powered by a 1.5GHz Cortex-A9 dual-core processor. Running the BlackBerry 10 OS, the phone has a 3.1-inch OLED touch display with a resolution of 720 x 720 pixels. Ivor Soans, managing editor of Biztech2, joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on whether the BlackBerry Q10 will be competitive in its segment.

Q. How does the new product compare with competitors in the market. Samsung and Sony also are aggressive? Asked by: sundar1950in

Q10's a premium phone with best materials and build: Ivor Soans

Will the BlackBerry Q10 be competitive in its segment?

A. The BlackBerry Q10 is a niche smartphone and users cannot compare it to flagship smartphones from Samsung and Sony for the simple reason that Sony and Samsung's flagships don't have physical QWERTY keyboards. I know Samsung has a few smartphones with keyboards, but keyboard quality and ease of use on the Q10 is light years ahead. So, if you are comparing the Q10 to the flagship devices from Samsung and Sony in the same price range, you're making a wrong comparison. The Q10 is primarily aimed at users who want a physical QWERTY smartphone.

Q. Research In Motion - Has RIM solved it's difficulties in Complying with Government requirements in India? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. This question has nothing to do with the Q10. However, BlackBerry (not Research in Motion, the name of the company was changed on January 30) has made announcements of compliance with certain Indian government norms in the past few months.

Q. The pricing seems to indicate the new product is for the high end business persons only. Is the assumption right? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Yes, the Q10 is a premium smartphone with premium materials and build quality. For instance, every unit has been carved from a unibody block of cold forged stainless steel and each chassis takes 20 mins to build. There are no screwed together parts on the Q10 chassis. Based on my review, this is definitely the best BlackBerry ever built from a build quality perspective. Clearly, such quality and materials come at a price and the price point is high. It is aimed at successful people who are in senior echelons of the corporate world or business or if you are a homemaker, if your husband or wife is a senior executive or a successful businessperson.

Q. To which segment of users or Target group will the new product be useful? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. The Q10 is for users who want a physical QWERTY keyboard and don't mind sacrificing screen real estate for a keyboard. Such people are often those who need to type a fair bit on the smartphones and for whom productivity is key (and there are many other productivity elements in BlackBerry 10). Plus, being a premium smartphone with premium materials and build technology used, the factor of being in the higher levels of society bracket also comes in. In a line, if you a successful person who can afford a premium smartphone and if you want a physical QWERTY keyboard in a smartphone.

Q. There is wide perception that Blackberry phones has limited appeal and are professional phones as compared to android ios phones so can Q10 change the perception Asked by: Manav

A. The Q10 is designed to appeal to the traditional BlackBerry audience of professionals, but along with the productivity advantages such as the keyboard, long battery life and other features, BlackBerry has ensured there is lots to play with too. For instance, the Time Shift camera which is a cool, fun feature, the Story-Maker app, the picture editing software, a superb browser, etc. So, other than screen size for multimedia consumption, there's lots more on the personal, fun side too. BlackBerry 10 has changed the perception that BlackBerry is only for professional use.

Q. What are your views on Q5 as it is considered to be a cheap phone with most of the Q10 features and its launch is also not far away? Asked by: Hitesh

A. I have spent a few hours playing with the Q5 and it is a superbly built smartphone with almost the same features as the Q10 -- same size display, though not a Super AMOLED screen, same processor, just a little less RAM, same 2100 mAh battery, but to save costs it has a non-removable battery; and a 5 MP rear camera rather than 8 MP (front stays 2 MP too). The keyboard is not as good and well-made like the Q10's (just like the old Curve/Bold keyboard differences). It comes in some very nice colours too (red is my personal favourite). The Q5 will be cheaper than the Q10 and Z10 and I feel if you find the Q10 too expensive, the Q5 may be a great alternative at a lower cost.

Q. Does dual core or quad core processors give better efficiency or they marketing gimmicks as single core processors are still being sold in the market? Asked by: Ravi

A. Quad core processors are more efficient and typically superior to dual-core processors. However, it's a bit like engines. A 5000 cc V8 may be superior to your Maruti's 1300 cc engine, but you purchase the Maruti for the whole package and not just the engine. In smartphones, it all depends on the OS and how much it can get out of a processor. With companies like Apple and BlackBerry who make their own hardware and software, the processor and OS is better integrated and their smartphones may work smoothly with dual-core processor while with some other OS that has a lot of bloatware thanks to manufacturer customisation efforts, a quad core may be necessary for smooth performance. In the end, it's about performance -- if the smartphone UI is smooth works without any lag, what does it matter what engine (processor) is under the hood?

Q. Does the Blackberry's lack of positioning in tablets effect its sales in smartphones as companies like Apple and Samsung have strong portfolio of phones and tablets in every segment? Asked by: Ravi

A. With Apple the tablet-smartphone integration works great, but that's not necessarily true for Samsung. Maybe the lack of a tablet, or to be more precise, lack of a focus on tablets (since the BlackBerry PlayBook is available) may hurt a little, but I would think it would be negligible.

Q. Can Q10 and K10 revive the fortunes of Blackberry which is struggling to maintain its past image of a strong telecom company? Asked by: Manav

A. I don't want the K10 is, but I guess you mean the Z10. Well, BlackBerry declared an unexpected profit in the last quarter and independent sales reports of the Q10 have been quite positive. Plus, despite many who said BlackBerry would run out of cash, their cash position has only gotten stronger. I'm not sure whether 2 smartphones can revive a company, but their mobile computing strategy and BlackBerry 10, which is the lynchpin of that strategy, might work. If it works, it will take some time though for the results to show. Clearly, it's fairly certain now that BlackBerry is not dying tomorrow, as many announced or feared.

Q. What is the form factor of this phone and will Blackberry introduce big screen phones like 5" or more like Samsung and Apple? Asked by: Arvind

A. The Q10 is a smartphone with a physical QWERTY keyboard + touch screen. There are rumours of BlackBerry planning to introduce a 5" phablet, but at the moment they are just rumours. BlackBerry hasn't made any definite announcement on such a possibility. Personally, I feel BlackBerry might head this way, because there is a market for phablets and BlackBerry doesn't have an offering in that segment.

Q. Do you feel that OS10 can compete with Jelly Bean 4.2 as it has more applications and appeals more to youth in terms of applications like music, gaming or videos? Asked by: Sanjay

A. My secondary device is a Google Nexus 4 running Jelly Bean 4.2. While it is a great smartphone, I can't function without my primary, a BlackBerry Z10. I feel the Z10 holds its own against the Nexus 4 even in music and videos, though certainly there are far more apps available on Android. As an example, I had to pay for an app to get a panoramo mode on the Z10 camera, while it came for free with the Nexus. On the other hand, the BlackBerry Z10 came with the complete MapMyIndia maps for free, which is not possible on Android. BlackBerry's free office suite (Docs to Go) is also far superior to anything free on Android and it is compatible with the latest Microsoft Office releases. It all depends on your needs and the price you are willing to pay to meet those needs. Some believe they can't do without a physical QWERTY keyboard and they will go for a Q10 even though it has a smaller screen, others like me feel the Z10's keyboard is outstanding and unmatched and hence prefer the Z10 over the Nexus 4, others might want the security capabilities of BlackBerry, etc.

Q. Is the 45K an price that means Blackberry will have to focus more on developed markets as emerging markets will have narrow base at this price? Asked by: Sanjay

A. The Q10 and Z10 will play in developing markets too, but for the high-end customer looking for a premium smartphone. However, BlackBerry has announced the Q5, as a cheaper alternative for countries like India. I have spent a few hours playing with the Q5 and it is a superbly built smartphone with almost the same features as the Q10 -- same size display, though not a Super AMOLED screen, same processor, just a little less RAM, same 2100 mAh battery, but to save costs it has a non-removable battery; and a 5 MP rear camera rather than 8 MP (front stays 2 MP too). The keyboard is not as good and well-made like the Q10's (just like the old Curve/Bold keyboard differences). It comes in some very nice colours too (red is my personal favourite). The Q5 will be cheaper than the Q10 and Z10 and I feel if you find the Q10 too expensive, the Q5 may be a great alternative at a lower cost. Besides the Q5, BlackBerry's existing OS 7 will also see some new releases in the coming months and still continue to sell in developing countries.

Q 10 compared to Samsung s4/note2 which is having with better processor and software is still expensive. How do you justify the pricing? Asked by: BHARAT KHATRI

A. If you just go by processor specs, you may be comparing smartphones quite wrongly. The BlackBerry Q10 is a niche smartphone and users cannot compare it to flagship smartphones from Samsung and Sony for the simple reason that Sony and Samsung's flagships don't have physical QWERTY keyboards. I know Samsung has a few smartphones with keyboards, but keyboard quality and ease of use on the Q10 is light years ahead. The Q10 is primarily aimed at users who want a physical QWERTY smartphone. As for processors, in smartphones, it all depends on the OS and how much it can get out of a processor. With companies like Apple and BlackBerry who make their own hardware and software, the processor and OS is better integrated and their smartphones may work smoothly with dual-core processor while with some other OS that has a lot of bloatware thanks to manufacturer customisation efforts, a quad core may be necessary for smooth performance. In the end, it's about performance -- if the smartphone UI is smooth works without any lag, what does it matter what engine (processor) is under the hood?

Q. Is OS 10 going to support android applications and will it in any way compromise with Blackberry's security in any way as safe phone from hacking perspective? Asked by: Manush

A. Developers can port their applications to BlackBerry 10 quite easily and such ported apps are available officially on BlackBerry World, the app store from BlackBerry. Almost all Android apps can also be sideloaded which is very easy for anyone who is comfortable with technology. There are are many websites that make available the files required for such sideloading of apps. This does not compromise BlackBerry security in any way. If you are a corporate user, you won't be able to sideload apps into the work profile. You can't download any apps there other than those approved by your company. BlackBerry 10 has containerisation right down to the OS level and not just at the application level.

Q. This phone has a touchscreen also so will it have good quality sensors like in Apple and Samsung phones? Asked by: Ravi

A. I know BlackBerry has made a terrible all-touch smartphone in the past (the Storm 1), but the new range of BlackBerry touchscreens are as good as the best.

Q. When Q5 launch in India? Asked by: BHARAT KHATRI

A. The Q5 is expected to launch in July, as per the announcement made by BlackBerry at BlackBerry Live.

Q. Can Blackberry retain their old Curve/ Bold customers with 10 OS as they have temptation to move over to android and IOs due to new financing schemes and some of them take calls because of peers having these devices? Asked by: Ravi

A. BlackBerry also has financing schemes and I feel BlackBerry 10 holds is own against iOS and Android. The main issue for BlackBerry 10 in India now is price -- BlackBerry has no BlackBerry 10 smartphone in India today to take on the great Android smartphones available in the Rs 25000 or so price point. Which is why a lot of Curve customers looking to upgrade may not consider BlackBerry 10. However, the Q5 is expected to come next month and has some great specs (very similar to the Q10 on many aspects and dealt with in earlier answers on this chat). It is also supposed to be much cheaper than the Q10 and Z10. As for Bold users who have paid close to Rs 39000 for earlier Bold smartphones, they may not find the Rs 45000 price tag of the Q10 or the current Rs 42000-odd price point of the Z10 too high.

Q. Do you feel that 40k phones suit these days as their are many tablets with phone features and local rivals as there are local companies like Micromax, HCL or Lava who are giving products at sub 10K with most of features of big MNCs? Asked by: Ravi

A. Features may appear the same, but clearly, appearances can be deceptive. While players like Apple and BlackBerry have their own USPs thanks to proprietary operating systems and tight OS-hardware integration, I'm sure that the buyers who buy a Samsung Galaxy Grand as opposed to a cheaper smartphone that seems to offer the 'same' features are not idiots. They pay for quality in terms of components, better manufacturing practices and therefore better build quality and finally there's the all important after-sales service and support too. On Android you'll find that the bigger manufacturers release Android updates far quicker than makers of cheaper phones. Each player aims at a market. The BlackBerry Q10 audience isn't going to compare a Micromax with the BlackBerry because they are looking at premium materials used, premium quality and superb physical QWERTY keyboard with a tightly-integrated OS that has the best security levels around.

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