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The BlackBerry Q10: More of the same
The phone that QWERTY fans have been waiting for is finally here, but will anyone else care?
 
Ta da!: A tactile keyboard
Ta da!: A tactile keyboard Blackberry

If you find a touchscreen stifling to your everyday smartphone needs, good news: The new BlackBerry Q10 is here, tactile keys and all. No, it isn't quite top-shelf material like the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One, or the iPhone 5, but it's certainly a workhorse capable of holding its own. Here, a roundup of reviews:

Engadget's Tim Stevens says the new OS, BlackBerry 10, is great for productivity:

The main feature of BlackBerry 10 is easy multitasking, primarily facilitated by gestures. Swiping up from the bottom bezel of the phone drops you back to your running apps and... that's actually a bit of a challenge given the proximity of the keyboard to the display. Swipe up and to the right and you get to the BlackBerry Hub, which consumes all your messages from email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, BBM and elsewhere into one massive, fast-flowing pile. [Engadget]

But Mashable's Pete Pachal finds the app situation disappointing:

Sadly, none of the refinements in BB10.1 can magically populate BlackBerry's app catalog. They're doing okay — there are 100,000 apps in BlackBerry World now — but "okay" isn't going to get them Netflix or Vine. It remains to be seen whether BlackBerry 10 will ever attract enough developer interest to really thrive, but easy porting of Android apps (which can sometimes have a less-than-optimal experience) seems to be helping a little. [Mashable]

And Jonathan S. Geller at BGR isn't a fan of the phone's design:

Looking at the Q10's design invokes mixed feelings. The front of the smartphone seems clean and almost modern, but the back feels tacky with a half-rubberized, half-sticky texture. BlackBerry says the back parts of the phone are made out of weaved glass, giving it a carbon fiber look and comparable durability.

It's an interesting application, but I think there's a reason why we haven't seen this material used on phones before and that's because of the feel. But more importantly, every single bit of dust, dirt, hair or any other particle that touches it gets stuck on the surface. [BGR]

But as expected, the keyboard is topnotch, says Wired's Roberto Baldwin:

The phone's design is an update of the Bold, with nearly the same physical keyboard that many users declared would have to be pried from their cold, overworked hands. BlackBerry has ditched the concave keyboard layout and instead placed the letters straight across the face of the phone. It may seem like a radical change, but in reality, after about five minutes of typing, your fingers will feel at home.

The new keyboard also feels crisper. The keys have been made ever-so-slightly larger, giving each key a more pronounced presence. The metal railings separating the rows are also slightly bigger. It's a nice change for old-school BlackBerry fans. [Wired]

Though the camera won't win any awards, TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington says it performs well enough:

Overall, the Q10's camera is a solid performer. It won't win any low-light awards, and that's putting it lightly, but it can still manage to take some amazing shots, which look even more amazing with the slightly exaggerated color rendering of the OLED display. [TechCrunch]

Joanna Stern at ABC News says the touchscreen took some getting used to:

It's also a much nicer screen than ever before: The 3.1-inch, 720 x 720-resolution Super AMOLED screen is bright, crisp and responsive to touches and flicks. However, the screen is smaller than I would have liked and I'll admit that at times I was looking for the classic BlackBerry trackpad. [ABC News]

Wired's Baldwin was impressed by the Q10's battery life:

The battery lasted longer than a regular business day, which is crucial on a business-minded smartphone. With lighter use (a typical weekend day where you're not constantly checking the phone, because fun) the battery lasted 27 hours. Of course, the 2100mAh battery can be replaced during the day if you're the type of person who's on the phone non-stop. Which of course is the type of person who wants the Q10. [Wired]

All in all, if you're a BlackBerry fan already, you'll love it, says TechCrunch's Etherington:

The BlackBerry Q10 is unique among smartphones, with its square display and hardware keyboard. And BlackBerry knows that it will appeal to a certain kind of consumer. What I found in using it, is that I actually gravitated towards tasks that were productive — zapping my inbox overload, typing up actual complete paragraphs for longer posts (I've never used another smartphone to do that), using the newly-ported Skype app to stay in touch with teammates. This is a business phone, and an unabashed one, and in a world where we often want our devices to do everything for us, a little focus is actually a very refreshing thing. [TechCrunch]

Mashable's Pachal agrees:

So the Q10 scores a victory, but it's a pyrrhic one. As good as many of the features of the Q10 are, it's not a phone I could recommend to anyone but the diehard few who were already lining up for it. [Mashable]

 
Chris Gayomali is the science and technology editor for TheWeek.com. Sometimes he writes about other stuff. His work has also appeared in TIME, Men's JournalEsquire, and The Atlantic.

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