The jury is still out on the new BlackBerry Z10 with a touch display, and the company strenuously denies analyst claims of high return rates. But the jury on BlackBerry overall hasn't even been sent to deliberate. First they need to get good look at the Q10, the new BlackBerry 10 with a physical keyboard.
Do you want a smartphone with a hard keyboard? You're not limited to BlackBerry.
The company says that we are approaching the release of the Q10. It is weeks away; Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint have all announced that they will carry it.
Is *this* the BlackBerry that matters? There's no question that many users who gave up their old BlackBerrys did so reluctantly and miss the physical keyboard. Would a BlackBerry with that keyboard and a modern OS hit the spot for such users?
If you were a BlackBerry fan because of the keyboard then you face a trade-off: keyboard vs. screen size. The Z10 has a 4.2-inch display with 1280 x 768 resolution (356 ppi). The Q10 has a 3.1-inch display with 720 x 720 resolution (330 ppi). These days people want those larger screens, and the Q10 gives up a lot of screen real estate in order to get you the hard keyboard.
I know at least one long-time BlackBerry user who has decided it's not worth the screen space anymore. There are going to be a lot of people making this same decision and BlackBerry knows it. That's why it put so much effort into its soft keyboard.
At least users will finally get to make a fair decision about whether the hard keyboard is worth it. In a few weeks they will be able to go into a store and try both of them in their own hands.
By the fall it will be clear if consumers and businesses are buying into BlackBerry 10 generally and whether the hard keyboard is a hit. I'm guessing it fades away over the next few years.
Below is a short demo of the Q10.