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BlackBerry Q10: The QWERTY Phone To Beat

Early reviews heap praise on BlackBerry's latest smartphone, especially for its versatile keyboard.

BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
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The BlackBerry Q10 is the device that old-school fans of BlackBerry smartphones have been waiting for, if we're to believe the first round of reviews. A number of media outlets have spent time with BlackBerry's latest smartphone and say it is the best QWERTY-equipped device on the market.

BlackBerry made a name for itself a decade ago as a maker of smartphones with physical keyboards. Models such as the 7200, 8800, Pearl, Curve and Bold featured high-quality QWERTY keyboards that let users type emails and messages more quickly. BlackBerry spent a lot of time developing its keyboards, and they were excellent. The company sold millions of BlackBerrys, which became the de facto smartphone of mobile professionals everywhere.

Then came the Apple iPhone, which represented a paradigm shift in how smartphones were designed. Apple did away with the physical keyboard in favor of a larger display that included a software keyboard. Sales of BlackBerrys began to dwindle thereafter.

[ What's in the works for the BlackBerry OS? See BlackBerry 10.1 SDK Points To New Features. ]

Fast-forward to 2013. BlackBerry is back with a new operating system and two new smartphones: the Z10 and Q10. Where the Z10 is meant to reel in new customers with its all-touch design, the Q10 is intended to placate die-hard BlackBerry fans by offering the best of both worlds.

The Associated Press' Peter Svensson said, "I haven't used a keyboard-equipped phone in years, but the Q10 makes it very tempting. There's no getting around it: it's a faster, more accurate way to type, even compared with innovations such as Swype." He also points out that the keyboard can be used to control the music player as well as to launch applications, thanks to more than 200 shortcuts called Instant Actions.

The Wall Street Journal's Katie Boehret also lauded the keyboard, but pointed out some compromises in the design. "To make room for this screen, the Q10 sacrifices two features. First, its keyboard runs straight across rather than in the more comfortable, broad U-shaped curve like on the Bold. Second, the Q10 lacks a track pad, the below-the-screen square that functioned as a precise cursor." She said it took her several days to adjust to those changes.

Both Svensson and Boehret said the Q10 offers full-day battery life, but they dinged the BlackBerry 10 operating system for its lack of apps compared to competing platforms. The BlackBerry World app store has about 100,000 apps, while the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store each have more than 750,000. (Here some QWERTY-equipped alternatives to the BlackBerry Q10.)

The Q10 is powered by a dual-core 1.5-GHz processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of built-in storage. It includes an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture. The Q10 also includes a user-facing 2-megapixel camera that can record 720p HD video. The Q10 supports NFC, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS radios for connectivity. The Q10's touchscreen is smaller to accommodate its physical QWERTY keyboard. It measures 3.1 inches diagonally and has 720 pixels by 720 pixels.

The Q10 is expected to reach U.S. carriers beginning in May. The price should be about $249 with a contract.

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