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Review: BlackBerry Q10 from Verizon

BlackBerry maker RIM may be on the ropes, but it isn't going down without a fight.The Q10 follows the release of the 4.2 inch Z10 smartphone aimed at retaining Blackberry users lusting over the 4-plus inch displays offered by rivals. The Q10 eschews the craze for the slimmest and large-screen form factor that has spawned the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One for a physical keyboard.

When Verizon offered a Q10 review unit ($199.99 with a two year agreement) I did not hesitate to accept it, even though I'm more of an Android and iOS user.

For those who rate typing on a slab of greasy glass up there with nails on a chalkboard, the Q10 offers the best physical keyboard available on a smartphone. Swiftkey's word prediction works its magic on-screen for speedier typing.

Engadget praised the Q10 as "unquestionably the best phone with a keyboard on the market," but its small screen makes it difficult to consume content. As a niche device, I suspect that won't matter much to most of those interested in the Q10.

Obviously, the 3.1 inch display size is a compromise for tactile typing on the Q10's sculpted keyboard buttons. There is a micro HDMI port to view content on a larger screen though.

As for the rest of the device, the Q10 experience is pretty much a Z10 with a smaller display - and a real keyboard of course. The camera and battery life are average. The design and build are impeccable.

One standout feature is BlackBerry's Hub where a quick swipe reveals notifications from calls, texts, email, social media and such in a unified interface.

There is no comparison with the iPhone 5, HTC One or Galaxy S4. The BlackBerry Q10 isn't for everyone, but there are a number of consumers who will appreciate it. It won't win any smartphone shootouts, but for those who demand a physical keyboard the Q10 is king.

What's hot

- The best physical keyboard

- Word prediction from Swiftkey

- Impeccable build

...but

- Relatively small app ecosystem

- So-so camera

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