It looks like the beloved BlackBerry tactile experience will come at a premium, at least in the U.S. when it launches. BlackBerry has confirmed that the BlackBerry Q10, a smartphone with a portrait style QWERTY keyboard running on a new release of the BlackBerry 10 operating system called BlackBerry 10.1, will retail for $249.99 with a two-year service agreement on U.S. carriers when it debuts this spring.
The smartphone’s pricing would place it at a $50 premium compared to the touchscreen-only BlackBerry Z10, which is a $199 on-contract slate-style form factor phone that competes in the touchscreen smartphone space as the iPhone from Apple, the HTC One, and the Samsung Galaxy S4. Perhaps BlackBerry is recognizing that the keyboard will be the appeal to many BlackBerry loyalists who are awaiting the keyboarded model to arrive.
The BlackBerry Q10 will be arriving on all four national carriers, including AT&T Mobility, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless.
And though the form factor of the BlackBerry Q10 may be similar to the BlackBerry 9900 series (or 9930 on Sprint and Verizon in the U.S.) running last generation’s BlackBerry 7 operating system, the Q10 may not provide as comfortable or ergonomic of an experience as the model it succeeds. The Q10 eschews the ‘smile’ style arced keyboard arrangement for a flatter, linear key arrangement, meaning that users hands will probably have to be closer together to peck at the keys. Additionally, the Q10 also does away with the optical trackpad and traditional BlackBerry navigation keys. Now, for users to navigate through the BlackBerry 10.1 software, they’ll need to constantly move their hand placement between the keyboard and the touchscreen.
The Q10 was announced for a Canadian launch on May 1.
We’ll likely hear more about the BlackBerry Q10 and any future BlackBerry 10 OS roadmap and any new devices at BlackBerry’s developer conference, called BlackBerry Live, scheduled for next month in Florida.
Early reviews of the BlackBerry Q10 have begun to appear on both Engadget and Crackberry. Given that the device is priced at the same price point as the Galaxy S4 on many carriers and the reviews are appearing at the same time as the Galaxy S4, it looks like there will be some competition heating up between BlackBerry and Samsung.