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BlackBerry's Q10 merges keyboard with BB10 (hands-on)

Loyal BlackBerry users can rejoice in the physical keyboard of the new Q10, plus enjoy fresh BB10 software.

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Along with the new BlackBerry Z10 touch-screen device, RIM also unveiled the BlackBerry Q10, which keeps the company's iconic physical keyboard but runs the long awaited BlackBerry 10 software.

Shaped more closely to the BlackBerry Bold line of handsets, which enjoyed a great deal of popularity among the ranks of the "crackberry" faithful, the Q10 boasts a hardware keyboard and powerful mobile components.

On the inside, the device features the same revamped parts you'll find on the touch-screen BlackBerry Z10. This includes a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal memory. In my hands the phone felt fast and responsive, almost like a mini PlayBook tablet.

The keyboard will feel familiar to old BlackBerry hands. It sports similar sculpted edges and frets that the BlackBerry Bold phones use. The key layout is straight rather than curved, though, perhaps to emulate its Z10 sibling. To make room for the keyboard, the screen is smaller, measuring 3.1 inches. It is an AMOLED display, however, so colors looked saturated and blacks dark.

The new BlackBerry Q10 boasts a real QWERTY keyboard, plus BB10. Sarah Tew/CNET

The Q10 flaunts a fancier design as well with an all-glass back plate, which has been reinforced by a resin weave for extra durability. Even though BlackBerry makes the claim that the Q10's soft-textured back is a more premium design touch, it felt a bit on the cheap side perhaps because of the light weight of the handset overall.

I do like the speed of the camera, which snapped images almost instantly and locked on to subjects quickly. I would also love to take the TimeShift feature for a spin. Of course like the Z10, it didn't appear that other shooting modes were available, such as HDR or ISO settings.

Another bright point is that the Q10 boasts a bigger 2,100mAh battery, compared with the Z10's 1,800mAh power unit. Interested? Stay tuned for a full review when we get undivided access to RIM's latest keyboard product.

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