BlackBerry Q10 Hands-On: Return Of The QWERTY

This morning I went to what's known as "the BlackBerry Experience". Basically, it's a normal press conference in New York City, only this one was filled with BlackBerry addicts from way back who had gone so long without a decent fix of physical keyboard that they would have sold their mothers for just a look at a BlackBerry 10 handset. Mothers remain unsold, however, as the new BlackBerry Q10 hit the stage to whooping and cheering. We went hands on to see if it's all that (hint: it is).

The Q10 is a return to form for the newly minted BlackBerry: it sports the shiny, new BlackBerry 10 operating system, a 3.1-inch SuperAMOLED display with a 720x720 resolution and 360 pixels per inch, as well as 2GB of RAM, a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 16GB of internal memory and an eight-megapixel rear-facing camera.

Other goodies include a two-megapixel front-facing camera, 64GB microSD expansion slot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, a microHDMI out and support for 4G LTE and HSPA+ networks.

Physically, the Q10 isn't a huge departure from the BlackBerrys we're used to: nice physical keyboard, fits in the hand easily with a sexy screen to match. It's easy to type with one hand and it's perfect for those on the go.

Where the Q10 really shines is the software. This is the first QWERTY-enabled BlackBerry 10 device on the market, and we're finally starting to see some point to having both a physical keyboard and a touchscreen.

The screen operates the same way the BlackBerry PlayBook does: with hot corners you can swipe in and out to trigger certain operations. Thanks to these, everything is at your fingertips.

The keyboard is also complemented by autocomplete functionality that guesses words you're trying to spell. The difference with BlackBerry 10 and the Q10 is that the keyboard lets you subsequently "throw" those words onto the screen with the thumb you type with. That means you've got great one handed typing on the best physical keyboard in the world.

Also, with the addition of BlackBerry Balance, you can take your Q10 to work and still have a great phone to use in your personal goings-on.

The BlackBerry Q10 also has the power to get the job done without any noticeable lag or slow-down. As we can see, our demonstrator whips around the device without a drama.

The BlackBerry Q10 will be out in Australia between now and April. We'll update you when we know more on the release date and pricing.

Luke Hopewell travelled to New York City as a guest of BlackBerry.

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