When BlackBerry unveiled their new BB10 operating system at the end of January, they showcased two new handsets that would be launched with the new OS in place.
Whilst the Z10 flagship device has taken much of the limelight, being the first device to market, there is a lot of interest in the other device too, as it offers the feature most committed BlackBerry users want, a proper hardware keyboard.
The onscreen typing experience offered by the new BB10 operating system is one of the best tap entry systems available on a touchscreen, yet it is probably fair to say that for regular messaging, a proper QWERTY keyboard is always going to have an edge. The QWERTY keyboard found on the BlackBerry Q10 is faithful to previous devices, with the keys on each side of the keyboard slightly curved, making them easy to use for even the fattest of fingers.
Above the keyboard is the main display, a 3.1 inch Super AMOLED touchscreen that has a pixel resolution of 720 x 720. The touchscreen supports up to 16 million colours, and images present well on the display, with colours looking full and warm.
Unlike its older sibling, the Q10 does not offer 4G connectivity, but instead relies on HSDPA and WiFi for its high speed internet connections. The device supports WiFi Hotspot, so can be used as a WiFi connection for other electronic devices such as MP3 players and WiFi only Tablet devices.
NFC does make an appearance, which is encouraging. With NFC it is easy to exchange data with other compatible devices, and also gives quick connection to NFC enabled headphones and wireless speakers. Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP is also included, and there is a 3.5mm audio jack for connecting headphones in the traditional manner.
An 8.0 Megapixel camera is in place, with support for geotagging, image stabilisation and face detection. The camera is equipped to capture video clips, and there is also a front facing camera for video calling support. The device offers 16GB of internal memory storage, with 2GB RAM, and memory can be expanded with MicroSD memory cards up to 64GB in size.
Powering the Q10 is a dual core 1.5GHz processor, and in use the BB10 OS feels smooth and doesn't appear to have any noticeable lag. The 1800 mAh lithium ion battery delivers over 300 hours on standby and up to 10 hours talktime from a single charge, which should be enough to get even the most demanding users through the day.
There is a full media player on the Q10, offering support for a wide range of audio and video formats, including DivX, XviD and FlAC. Video playback looks good on the AMOLED screen, although the lack of screen size means you won't want to be watching any full length TV programmes on the phone.
Overall the BlackBerry Q10 is a strange device, and one that is going to have limited appeal with users. Where it will do well is amongst the hardcore group who prefer to have a 'proper' keyboard on their phone, and this is a market where BlackBerry have traditionally done well.
But the Q10 is very different to any other BlackBerry to have come before it, and the quirks surrounding the BB10 UI won't appeal to all. BB10 will be judged more on the success of the BlackBerry Z10 than with the Q10, so the device won't have to sell in large numbers. It is good to see that BlackBerry do listen to what their customers want, and the Q10 delivers with the keyboard.
The BlackBerry Q10 is expected to launch in March 2013, with availability across all UK networks. To Pre Order, see our BlackBerry Q10 Deals page.