BlackBerry Q10 Delivers Plenty to Like for Diehard Keyboard Fans

REVIEW: The BlackBerry Q10 tries to be the best of all BlackBerry worlds with a touch screen like the Z10 and a keyboard like the Bold 9900 and earlier classic devices.

When BlackBerry launched its much anticipated Z10 smartphone, the company also broke new ground by introducing its first touch-screen device that lacked the iconic BlackBerry physical keyboard.

For those millions of BlackBerry users who were used to that keyboard, this was a rude awakening and not one that all BlackBerry users liked. While eWEEK found the Z10's touch-screen keyboard to be the best of its type, there were a lot of users who really wanted the physical keyboard.

Now they'll get it. The BlackBerry Q10, which the company originally announced in January when it rolled out the Z10, is finally about to ship to carriers in the United States, giving users a BlackBerry 10 device with a traditional keyboard. But it's worth noting that this is more than just a Z10 with a keyboard grafted on. The Q10 is designed specifically to be a keyboard-equipped device, and there are differences in the way it works when compared to the Z10.

Many of the core design features of the BlackBerry 10 OS are kept intact, however. The BlackBerry Hub is there to collect your email and messaging. The Q10 still has a touch screen that allows you to peek at the Hub, and most of the other touch-screen features are available as well. The biggest difference: The on-screen keyboard is gone, since there's a physical keyboard. Also, the text prediction feature has now moved to words that appear on the bottom of the screen instead of in the lines between the keys as was the case with the Z10.

The Q10 is slightly larger than its predecessor, the Bold 9900. And the screen is much larger. Its 3.1-inch AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic LED) screen is a main reason for the larger size, although the keyboard lost one row of buttons and the touchpad as well. The result is a screen that's very bright and very easy to read. Text and images are sharp due to the 330-PPI (pixel-per-inch) 720-by-720 resolution screen.

The change to an AMOLED screen has required some other changes that users are sure to notice. In an effort to reduce power requirements, many screens such as in the calendar have black backgrounds instead of white as was the case in the past. The black background for some apps is a function of the newly updated version of BlackBerry OS 10.1, which also supports some of the other functions of the Q10, such as keyboard shortcuts.

The new 10.1 version, which for now is only available on the Q10, supports those familiar keystrokes such as pressing the "T" to move to the top of a document or "B" to move to the bottom. These features were missing in the original version of BBOS10, instead handled by menu functions, something that was impractical on the Q10 because of the screen size.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...