iPhone 5 vs. BlackBerry Q10: Which should you buy?

The BlackBerry Q10 represents the return of the original BlackBerry, and unabashedly so. Sure, it runs the same BlackBerry 10 operating system as the full touchscreen BlackBerry Z10, but it packs it into the classic, keyboard package every hardcore communicator and enterprise accomplisher knows and loves. But how does it compare to the iPhone 5, and if you're considering both -- which one should you get?

I've been using BlackBerry 10 on the Z10 for a month or so, and I've been using Kevin Michaluk's BlackBerry Q10 review unit quite a bit this week, and the modern multitouch experience translates better to the 720x720 display on the Q10 than I thought it would. The keys don't disappear when you launch a video or game, of course, and that means not only a list-views constrained to fewer items on the Q10, but 16:9 content is much, much smaller. Yet for the most part, BB10 handles it with aplomb, hiding what it can, scrolling what it can't, and letterboxing what it has to to get the job done. Just like traditional BlackBerry users expect.

On the other hand, the AMOLED display is sub-optimal and a compromise. It's a concession to battery life, which is the entire focus of a workhorse phone like the Q10, but it brings with it the problems in direct sunlight and the slight blue caste we've all learned to know and dislike about that particular screen tech.

The hardware keyboard is pretty much perfect. I'm not personally a fan, but for everyone who does still love QWERTY on mobile, the Q10 keyboard is very likely the best BlackBerry has ever produced. Once you get past the trackpad/trackball row going the way of the dodo, and the keys straightening out because of it, you be blasting away just as quickly, if not more quickly, than the days of BlackBerry gone by.

Apps are still sparse, and Android emulation is a stop gap. A lot of big name brands are already on BlackBerry, and more are coming, but I miss many if not all of the indie apps from iOS. That applies to Android just as much as BlackBerry -- the most interesting and delightful software is still being written almost exclusively for iOS.

BlackBerry 10 is also a brand new OS -- the newest in mobile now -- so while it has all the basics, and carries over a lot of the smart ideas from the Z10, it's still first generation and that means it squeaks a little when it turns around too fast. Sometimes you can't get into form fields. Sometimes you get weird errors. Sometimes it ignores errors and you wonder if that's okay or not. It is. Every modern mobile OS has been there.

No one who wants an iPhone will want a Q10. The Q10 is for those who long for that quintessential BlackBerry experience. It's for those for whom communication, especially enterprise communication, is the primary if not only purpose of a phone. It's for people for whom BBM and BES-based security is paramount. And that's a decidedly different focus than the iPhone.

The truth is, the Q10 is a hold-over from an old but not quite yet forgotten age. Hardware keyboards aren't a growth market anymore. Those who cling to them do so because immigrating to touch has proven challenging for them. Kids today, however, are be touch-screen native, and the Q10-style BlackBerry will fade as the Z10-style grows to take it's place.

But right now, today, I don't care. Right now, today, it's like watching your favorite hero from the past come out of retirement to kick ass once again, even if it's for one last time.

Go check out CrackBerry's coverage, then come back here and tell me what you think.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 29 comments. Add yours.

NAMISH says:

BlackBerry's form factor still holds its appeal for sure. I drooled over the pics of Q10 when they were first leaked/released and drooled over my laptop as I read that "lengthy" review over at CrackBerry.
I must admit that I almost purchased the Z10 instead of the iPhone 5 just coz I've always had this attraction, this bond that I've felt, between myself and blackberry. But of course I had my reasons for not getting it back then, and I have my reasons to stick with the iPhone 5 for the time period instead of switching over to the goddess-like Q10!
I like what BlackBerry has done with Os10 and I might switch to the q10 someday, just not now.

SockRolid says:

iPhone 5.
Silly question.

tooicecool says:

if you are too fast kind of guy best if you buy Q10, if you are the slow type yeah go iphone

asuperstarr says:

The blackberry is like a two-way pager. It's was hot at one time and now who cares.

dannyd86 says:

Sounds like somebodies affraid of some competition.

Briguglio662 says:

Hey everyone. Listen it's very annoying when the obvious biased fans of either phone just sit and bicker. At the end of the day, its about which phone suits you better. I bought the Bold 9930 the day it came out. Yeah it doesn't have all the apps the iPhone has, but i had 0 complaints with it. So recently I got the iPhone 5..and in all honesty I miss BB. The phone is awesome dont get me wrong, but it just seems like the focus of the phone isn;t the core functions of a cell phone. I miss my 9930, so i can only imagine that the BB10 at LEAST rivals the iPhone5. I dont know what it is about this iPhone5, but I miss my BB straight up lol. Now I'm just torn between the Z10 and the Q10. I Love the physical keyboard, and HATE full touch phones.. (prolly why i dont care much for the iPhone.) One thing I can say is that the iPhone5 is smooth as hell dude. Watching netflix on it is beautiful. Im pretty sure the BB10's are going to be equally smooth. I dont know yet if they'll carry netflix... i mean thats no deal breaker, it would just be nice. Lets not forget this is the debut of BB10, we already know the updates will be rolling out, hopefully some good stuff. I haven't went and played with the Z10 at the store yet lol.. i should do that tomorrow. But I hope its smooth and fluid man..the haters that talk about BB are refering to the pre BB10 phones, which were more geared to business people, not kids who want to draw and paint and make voices into phones. But we'll see man, Anyways I thought I'd share my iPhone 5 story.

kazn3r says:

I read up to "straight up".

(prelude--got storm first day it came out, loved it, until tour, then wanted keyboard again, then tour-bold9930-then iphone)

I went from 9930 to iPhone4S, because i was offered by my company to take care of my bill. I'm young and could not say no; however, instagram, penultimate, whosampled and maps that talk to you are not enough to make me forget about a few simple things that i do not have on my iPhone that I did on my blackberry...all of which are Touchscreen accessibility.

We'll pretend it's Passover; (and one-handed, right handed)
Why must my poor thumb go all the way to the upper right hand corner to go to my next email. Why cant you swipe to the next/previous message? The same for txts. That is something that any touchscreen should be able to do, yet the superior touchscreen phone on the market does not have such functionality.

Why must I turn on Location (this is a joke guys), open maps, and enter "Take me to my Draft folder" to find a draft? Why can't there be a universal inbox. No, my sent does not need to show next to my inbox, but my drafts should show in my inbox. If i reply and save as a draft, the email in my inbox to which i wrote a drafted reply should show me right there that i have a reply drafted ready to go. I should not have to do...what is it...at least 4 clicks to get to drafts... It angers me like a mother.

What else...I guess the keyboard...I miss it. I miss txting and driving...I AM A COMPLETE ADVOCATE AGAINST IT, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT, THATS BECASUE EVERYONE HAS A TOUCHSCREEN. IF I HAD TO MAKE A MILLION DOLLAR DEAL AND ALL I NEEDED TO SAY WAS YES, I SHOULDNT HAVE TO RECEIVE A CALL SAYING "WHAT? WE OFFERED YOU MONEY AND YOU SAID TOMORROW?" I'm sorry, I meant to type yes. On a blackberry, i wouldnt even have to look.

I'm sorry to say, but I have not read crackberry since i got my iPhone, but I shall begin again since the Q is coming to america soon. No, I'm not a huge power user business man...but the above is enough to make anyone say "yeah wait why cant we do that on an iphone?"

And...now...that...the...blackberry...has...a...front facing camera and an 8mp camera, I see no advantage of my iphone... I will miss the iTunes store, but psh, who buys music besides me anyway.

I am not due for an upgrade, but what is the future looking like? I got the 4s, then the 5 came out...with barely any upgrades besides weight and size. I'm sure the 5s won't be so groundbreaking. I'm sure the 6 won't either. If that's my brains crystal ball, then i understand why i see the blackberry as more positive. Keyboard, better touchscreen functionality, and par-for-the-course specs.

There are many former blackberry owners like me that I am sure will read this and say "wait i didnt even realize i couldnt do that on my iphone."

Well, then you shouldn't have had a blackberry in the first place.

Electricoptics2 says:

your awesome man, i thought id let you know this comment just gained a point for the Q10 in my book. heres my thoughts

when i was a freshman in highschool i got a blackberry curve from nextel, it was AWFUL but it was my first legit smart phone, it was just like my car at the time, sh*tty but hey, its something, and its mine, but most importantly it was my first. i had that damn blackberry for all four years, and when i graduated, i did so with my phone as well, an HTC Evo. i missed the bb right away and regretted getting it (mostly, though because sprint got the iphone about a week after i upgraded) like you i wanted my blackberry experience back, the good and the bad. I ended up buying mt Bold 9930 on ebay and ditched my htc, i knew that blackberry was coming back right around the time my next upgrade was due. so i thought "ill spent a year with it, and if i like it, ill get new bb" well i did, and do like it still, but i also like itunes, and apps, and stupid games. but what do i use my bb for now? 1: facebook/twitter 2: Pandora (not currently on bb10,why????) and 3: texting. thats exactly what id use an iphone for, that and a bunch of little games, and snap chatting. moral of the story is, that even though these phones a very different indeed, many others and I love both. and we're lost i honestly have to say it will depend greatly on what i think of the in store tester, but most importantly, on weather blackberry can win over the app developers. i want to see blackberry compeaating with the other giants in the smartphone world.

kazn3r says:

There are too many people out there that haven't even realized what we're talking about. The BlackBerry keyboard is repeatedly praised. I read about it all day today. There is no denying.

I had the storm, in college. I got it the day it came out. I had issues coming from an LG VX9800, not having a keyboard. A few months after I had received a third warranty replacement storm, I was able to recognize that previous issues with the hardware had disappeared from the new phone I had. Many of you I'm sure remember the issues with the screen and its breakthrough clicking, to say the least. My fourth storm had an impact on my daily life and, for some reason, I specifically remember the ease on my thumbs when it came to almost naturally extending them to reach the upper parts of the screen.

Months passed and I began to think to myself, do I need a keyboard? Is it possible to become more comfortable in daily life without a keyboard, or was I comfortable because of something that was not in fact related at all to a keyboard?

I began to wonder what my perfect phone would be. Allow me to let you know that I had a phone that clicked perfectly and had no issues. I wondered whether or not the clicking was actually natural or not.

Then I caved in. A jump off of a cliff. I went and bought a tour. The keyboard. Well, I realized I was more productive with a keyboard, although I was confident on the clicking storm. I then realized that it felt comfortable. There was no noticeable discomfort on the storm, but with the tour I experienced comfort. To me, my perfect phone then became a combination of a physical keyboard and a touch screen. I had never thought of that idea when I had my LG.

The Torch did not appeal to me nor my wallet, considering I was no where near an upgrade. I stuck it out with the tour until I was eligible for an upgrade--turns out the 9930 was due just in time. There it is. My perfect phone. And that keyboard. When I got it...yeah the tour was great, but wow! I needed that width and thickness of the keys, not to mention the slim body of the hardware.

It is still my perfect phone. The iPhone offers me little over the Q10 now (see front facing camera, apps, touchscreen, etc.) Both have technology, functionality, klout, and appeal. One just offer less on the side of common sense. There are things you cannot do on an iPhone, the mass-produced machine of brains around the world, that you can do on a BlackBerry with half of the touchscreen.

Where's the sense in that? Where's the comfort in having to reach all the way to the top of the screen to tap an arrow. Move the buttons to the bottom of the screen! Better yet, allow us to move them!

Why can't you swipe between messages? Wait! Even in the latest Facebook app, you can draggggg from left to right or right to left, respectively a menu and a buddy list. On an iPhone! Instagram? You can drag to the right to go from a picture, back to a profile. Genius. Why can't I do that in Safari with tabs? I shouldn't have to tap "Tabs."

If done correctly, a phone can be made to feel comfortable, as well as natural, although my "comfortable" and "natural" may differ from yours.

Briguglio662 says:

Did not realize it was that long, my apologies.

PhxBlue says:

I want one just because. It's like that old comfy T-shirt..

Easy-G says:

I'm guessing that the Venn diagram of people seriously considering both the iPhone 5 and BlackBerry Q10 is pretty small. Still, nice to show everyone what the Q10 is all about.

zdn1042 says:

iPhone 5 & Q10! Both are awesome in their own way!!

Easy-G says:

That's like choosing the Sharingan over the Rinnegan... you can say they're both awesome, but in the end... come on... ;)

cbfan123 says:

Why is the Byakugan always left out? Sigh...

flyersfan76 says:

I WILL have both when Verizon finally gets these out there. At the end of the day my Phone is just that a phone that can 2 more very important things for me. Calendar and Email. I also have an iPad so the apps will be covered.

javirique says:

Seriously...at this stage, Iphone 5 is a better phone. A more interesting phone no! I ll go for interesting. Here is where i sit now in tech gadgets.
Laptop: Lenovo Yoga. Amazing! I come from a macbook 2008.
Phone: Bold 9900 yes yes is old but amazing communication tool.
Tablet: Ipad Mini LTE: amazing, although the yoga is replacing a lot of its use.
On june 3rd I will replace the bold with a Q10. Perfect combo.

pr1nce says:

They're both great devices.

Claudia Sainz de Zenteno says:

Nice case, but I prefer the Pong Research <a href="http://www.pongresearch.com"> iPhone case</a> . The amount of radiofrequency energy a cell phone user is exposed to depends on the technology of the phone, the distance between the phone’s antenna and the user, the extent and type of use, and the user’s distance from cell phone towers. Then I researched ways to avoid the danger from cell phone radiation. In the end though, I found a couple of reviews of Pong Research's cases, that convinced me to give it a try. This case is built with an antenna in between layers of the back cover, which reduces exposure to radiation while optimizing the mobile reception.

mobileprogramming says:

In my opinion the iphone 5 looks much better as compared to BlackBerry Q10. So i prefer iPhone 5.

SmileDahling says:

I had an iPhone 4S and never saw the appeal of the iPhone 5. I was waiting to see if anything special would happen w/ the iPhone 5s (or whatever new iteration was in store). Then, PRISM happened and while I know BlackBerry isn't the be-all-end-all for security I figured it was better than an Apple, Google or Microsoft product.

So, I ditched my iPhone 4S today, bought a Q10 and I think I'll be very happy w/ it. I was getting bored w/ Apple's lack of innovation anyway. I am deeply disappointed in Google b/c I probably would have bought a Nexus had it not been for the PRISM scandal. Oh, well.

Voting with my dollar. I hope BB comes back w/ a vengeance and we get more of those 'indie' apps another commenter mentioned.

Charlie_M says:

iPhone die-hards should read to the end...there is light at the end of the tunnel!

I have for the past 10 years been a BB user but have to admit that I was envious of the apps offered to iPhone and Android users; it seemed like just about every site I went to, from my bank to financial management sites to you name it, they all had an app for iPhone and Android, but nothing for BB.

Feeling shunned as a BB user I took a bold step and got the iPhone 5 a few months ago...and found that the apps far from make up for the loss of functionality I now have on the iPhone vs my BB's. For starters both of these are meant to be communication devices first and then entertainment solutions second. Apple has clearly forgotten this and thus the iPhone is nothing more than an iPod with cellular service ducktaped on to the back in what appears to be nothing more than an after-thought. Let me explain if I may, if you have ever had the chance to use both, beyond testing the display models in the store, then you may have noticed that email on the iPhone is hardly an email client at all...if you're not sure what I mean...then try this:

Open your email on the iPhone and then perform a search of your emails so that you get a bunch of results - some junk mailer email address for example. Now try and select all of the results and do a mass delete. IMPOSSIBLE!!!! You have to delete/move/archive/etc each and every message one by one. Same goes for marking all your emails as read, though there is a work around for this, but really a 'work-around' to marking all your emails as read...shouldn't this be on the 'basic functionality' list of all email clients?

Text messages is another black eye for the iPhone, I have not found a way to search a thread of texts for a specific remark, I have to scroll, and scroll, AND SCROLL and hope that I don't skip over that critical comment that I'm looking for...BB has all of this...and more and whats more is that it is like the phone was designed from the start with this functionality in mind.

If you want to have access to a million and one apps that you will never have need to buy, look at the Golden Gate bridge in 3D, and seemlessly connect with your iTunes account then there is nothing more suited than an iPhone 5; but if communication/productivity is your focus then there is no beating the BB. I bought the 64GB iPhone 5 for $500 just a couple or so months ago and now I am going to have to pay full price for my BB to right my wrong - a painful lesson I hope to help others avoid! I'm not even going to talk about battery life, oh wait...I just did!!!

Ok so with all that said the iPhone has some great points too, I just love Siri - she is just fun to play with and can acctually be helpful if you need to dispose of a body...ask her for help! The screen is another great selling point, and the pictures are much much better than any I have taken on any of my BB's (but then again these are all old BB devices). Facetime is fun, the App Store is still more user friendly that the BB Store and as another reader commented, watching videos, tv shows (from the iTunes store) etc is a great joy...but again these features are available of the most current iPod too. But this is not enough for someone that depends on the device as a communication tool (email, text, etc.)

I'm sure there are those that will disagree, claim I have some bias and so on but in fact I simply mean to highlight the shortfall of iPhone as a mobile communications device, which is exactly what it is marketed to be, but simply isn't! iOS7 is coming out soon though...so maybe some of these "oversights" might get addressed, but I doubt it very much becase it has not been addressed in any of their earlier versions either.

Brent ODell says:

Any time the conversation turns to technology, there are always people who seem unreasonably for or against just about any given platform. I've never carried an iOS device, but I can compare my experience with Android, older versions of BB, and Windows Phone(in addition to the previous Windows Mobile and Palm). I went from my old Blackberry Bold to an Android(Samsung Galaxy S) because I wanted to get in on the bigger screen, the better games, watching videos, and so on. My Galaxy did all those things very well. After a few 'droids I decided to try Windows Phone(7.5 and later 8), because I was intrigued by the cleaner look to the interface, and I was not disappointed. There weren't as many apps, but I found I could do everything I wanted/needed, and do it well. The one thing I couldn't do very well was type(an issue that had followed me from Android). So, during a switch from one carrier to another I decided to buy a used Blackberry, and see if I can still type on a keyboard the way I remember. Turns out, I can. I've had a chance to play with some demo phones at stores, and watched a ton of videos, so I feel like I have a pretty good feel for BB 10, and it seems like something I could really be comfortable with. That's why I'm planning to get a Q10 as soon as I get some money set aside.

I'll repeat what others have said: if you're looking for games, or the ability to watch movies on the go, then definitely stick with one of the full touch screen phones. I think just about any of the four current OS's would suffice. If, like me, you have found you don't really play many games, or watch many videos, and mostly use your phone as a communications hub, I feel like the Q10 might fit you the way I feel it fits me. Phones are tools. They might also be art, or a personal statement of style, but there are, first of all, tools. Get the right tool for the things you do, not the tool for what anyone else does.

spbone says:

I'd much rather have a fast device like the BB Q10. I don't want to waste time with stupid iToys and stuff, which are meant for kids and can hardly do anything useful. If you go to an Apple store, you see teenagers playing around with stupid stuff like that. BB Q10 with it's best-ever keyboard, all the way.

ScaryFatKidGT says:

Lol you can get "grown up" iPhone apps too...

ScaryFatKidGT says:

I want an iPhone and I want a Q10...... I mean I want an iPhone so I don't have to carry my iPod touch every where, fast phone, all my music and awesome games and I would game on my iPhone but then the battery would probably die and I wouldn't have a phone and I couldn't swap in another....

Jon Valbonne says:

Some time back I bought myself a ThumbsUp battery pack. It's been brilliant when on the move, recharges the iPhone or any other bits of kit. I love it!! :)
Just thought I'd share...