BlackBerry Q10: The classic BlackBerry gets a makeover

Courtesy of BlackBerry/Courtesy of BlackBerry - BlackBerry said tha tits Q10, which has a full keyboard, will be available on the top four U.S. carriers by the end of May.

BlackBerry’s Q10 is a phone that knows who its customers are. The phone looks very familiar, sporting a full QWERTY keyboard and a squarish 3.1-inch screen in the classic BlackBerry style.

Simply put, the Q10 is best for those still addicted to their “CrackBerrys,” having ignored the siren song of iPhones and Androids in favor of a physical keyboard.

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If you’re not a BlackBerry fan, then the Q10 is going to be a hard sell for you. It’s pretty tough to ignore that its screen, for example, is dwarfed by smartphone behemoths like the 5.55-inch Samsung Galaxy Note II.

And the Q10 falls down on other perfomance metrics as well. While, for example, the browser performance on this phone is miles ahead of older BlackBerry models, it will still seem a bit sluggish to those with iPhones or Samsung Galaxy S III phones in their pockets.

The same is true of the display quality. Though the phone has a good display, it’s not nearly as crisp as offerings from competitors and is frankly too small to watch for very long.

There’s also the price to consider: BlackBerry said carriers will set their own prices, but the company has given the phone a suggested price of $249.99 — $50 more than an iPhone.

All that aside, there is a lot to like in this phone, particularly if you’re a fan of the physical keyboard, which has been designed to make the typing experience as smooth as possible.

The little details matter here: The keys on the Q10 are shaped to make it easy to tell keys apart without staring at the phone, and metal bars between the rows further guard against errant typos.

Typing is certainly easier and (arguably) more accurate on the physical keyboard than it is on a touchscreen, though the keys on the Q10 aren’t quite as crisp as the keyboards on older models.

BlackBerry has loaded up the phone with legacy features such as keyboard shortcuts (for example, “t” for top and “b” for bottom while scrolling) and PIN messaging, which should cheer those who favor its older models.

Like its sibling, the all-touch Z10, the Q10 runs the new BlackBerry 10 operating system, which eschews the home button in favor a hub that puts users a swipe away from their messaging, social media and e-mail accounts.

The Q10 also has the same camera software as the Z10, including features such as Time Shift, which lets you sift through several snaps to avoid shots where your friends are blinking.

The battery in the Q10 isn’t as long-life as its predecessors’, because of its better display, but you won’t be left with a completely depleted battery at the end of the day, either.

If you do run out of battery, BlackBerry has kindly bucked a recent smartphone trend and made it possible to swap in a spare. The company even has an accessory that draws on the power of a spare battery — through a cable — so you don’t have to remove your battery if the juice runs low in mid-call.

The phone’s charging port is a micro USB port that can pull double duty for data transfer. It also has a micro HDMI port, so you can hook it up to a monitor. The phone also has an micro SD card slot, so you can expand on its standard 16GB of flash memory.

BlackBerry said the Q10 will hit all four major U.S. carriers — Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile — by the end of May.

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