A lot has changed since the release of BlackBerry’s last keyboard flagship, the Bold 9900. The Canadian firm has changed its name from RIM to BlackBerry, it’s launched a new version of BlackBerry OS (10) and its also released its touch screen flagship, the Z10 (read our Z10 review here).
There’s also no hiding the fact that BlackBerry has been through some troubled times. Some may have jumped ship to rival operating systems having grown impatient with BlackBerry’s slow progress, but there are those that have remained loyal and eagerly await BlackBerry’s next keyboard instalment. In this post we’ll have a look at the main differences between the old and new – and try to assist those of you that are pondering an upgrade (or first time purchase) from the Bold 9900 to the BlackBerry Q10.
Before we start, here’s a quick note to clarify the situation. The BlackBerry Q10 and Z10 are devices that run on BlackBerry 10 OS, so this post may sometimes refer to BlackBerry 10 rather than the Q10. Anything said here about BlackBerry 10 software is applicable to both the Q10 and the Z10. The BlackBerry Bold runs on BlackBerry 7, so in some cases we will essentially be comparing BlackBerry OS 7 to BlackBerry OS 10. However, any references made to hardware will be a direct comparison between the Q10 and the Bold 9900.
Keyboard and trackpad
We’ll start with the most significant feature of the two devices and that for which BlackBerry has become so well-known over the years – the keyboard.
BlackBerry has increased the size of the keyboard on the Q10, making rapid typing even easier. The frets (strips separating each row of keys) on the Q10 are larger than those of the 9900, meaning there is more space between each row which therefore makes it easier for your fingers to find the correct key. Increasing the size of the keyboard means that all of the keys on the first three rows are the same size, which BlackBerry says will help with touch typing. In contrast, the keys on the Bold 9900 aren’t consistent in size. Interestingly BlackBerry has switched the keyboard from curved to straight, which may take some getting used to, but suggests that this combined with the larger keys does make typing easier.
Another big change between the two devices is the removal of the optical trackpad and the dedicated send, back and menu keys, which are present on the 9900 but not the Q10. Removing these has enabled BlackBerry to increase the size of the keyboard and screen. Seasoned BlackBerry users may prefer the feel of a trackpad, but the larger, more responsive screen more than makes up for its absence.