The first reviews for BlackBerry's latest Q10 handset are in, and while there were a few hardware related issues, many said the company's much-awaited return to a physical keyboard form-factor was worth the wait.
Reviews from TechCrunch, AllThingsD and CNET all have positive things to say about the Q10's keyboard, which apparently works well with the new BlackBerry 10 operating system despite its optimization for full touchscreen handsets like the Z10.
"The QWERTY keyboard is everything you remember about BlackBerry keyboards â and much more," writes ABC News' Joanna Stern. "The keyboard is well-made and well-spaced thanks to the metal frets separating the rows of keys."
Stern's assessment is in line with other reviews, which make note of how spacious the keyboard feels due to wider spacing and key separation. CNET calls the keyboard "the star of [the] show," and praises the intuitive nature of the large, ridged keys.
Powering the device is a dual-core 1.5GHz processor with 2GB of RAM, while storage capacity comes in at 16GB with support for up to 32GB microSD cards.
An obvious concession for a handset featuring a physical keyboard is the decrease in screen real estate. The Q10 boasts a square, 3.1-inch OLED display with a 720-by-720 pixel resolution good for a pixel density of 330 pixels per inch. By comparison, the display on the iPhone 5 trails slightly with 326 pixels per inch, though the difference is negligible.
Reviews disagree on battery life, however, as TechCrunch, CNET and AllThingsD give high marks for the handset's ability to run up to about 8 hours of continuous use. ABC found longevity to be short of the manufacturer's claims.
As with the Z10, BlackBerry's latest touchscreen model, the Q10 runs on the smartphone maker's BlackBerry 10 operating system. Although it was designed with full multitouch displays in mind, the OS handles both keyboard- and touch-based operations with ease. As expected from a smartphone with built-in keyboard, the Q10 excels at messaging, and specialized software like Hub and Balance worked well with the form factor.
Build quality is a mixed bag, with some enjoying the feel of the soft-touch back plate, which is made from carbon fiber/glass composite, while others say the flexible design detracts from the otherwise sturdy feel of the chassis.
"The cover though doesn't fit quite flush against the chassis, especially near the USB port, which is disconcerting," said CNET's Brian Bennett.
Moving to the camera, the Q10 offers the same picture quality as the Z10 as both units share the same module, while the latest BlackBerry 10.1 update brings HDR imaging to the 8-megapixel shooter. Image quality is supposedly similar to competing handsets.
Overall, reviews were positive for the handset, especially for users looking to move back to QWERTY keyboards after Apple's iPhone shifted the market toward multitouch displays.
BlackBerry's Q10 is slated for a May release and is expected to cost $249 with a two-year contract.