Blackberry Q10 reviewers’ verdict: not too shabby

BlackBerry’s CEO Thorsten Heins is seen on a screen in a live broadcast from a launch event in New York as he holds the new smartphones, Q10 and Z10, during a launch event in London, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. The first in a new generation of long-awaited BlackBerrys will go on sale in the next week in Canada and the United Kingdom, but won’t be released in the U.S. until March.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

BlackBerry executives are basking in the glow of rosy reviews this morning, with tech blogs and mainstream media hailing the new BlackBerry Q10 as the comeback device the company—and its devoted followers—have been longing for.

Praise is flowing from both sides of the Atlantic. The Wall Street Journal calls the Q10 “the BlackBerry of BlackBerry users’ dreams.” It’s “the best phone with a keyboard on the market,” claims the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper. BlackBerry’s A-type, suit-wearing, hardcore fans “are going to love this phone,” Wired reports.

The Q10 is BlackBerry’s second offering on its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, after the release of the Z10 earlier this year. But reviewers seem to unanimously praise it above the keyboard-less Z10. TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington called the return of the keyboard “refreshing.”

“This is a business phone, and an unabashed one,” he writes.

The upgrade to the new BlackBerry 10 operating system is “fun and responsive,” the WSJ notes. And many reviewers liked BlackBerry Hub—an app that compiles texts and emails to a single place.

In the age of apps, however, BlackBerry flounders. Offering 100,000 apps—BlackBerry’s approximate catalog—is useless if the ones you really want are missing, Wired notes. “Instagram, GroupMe, Vine, Flixster, and other apps that have thrived on iOS and Android are still missing.”

But the Q10 targets clients more concerned about being productive than playing games. Etherington notes he actually got more work done on the Q10 then he would on a competitor smartphone, including composing an actual paragraph. That’s maybe the best news of all for BlackBerry, which has staked its new name (it was formerly Research in Motion Inc.) on its reputation as the businesses world’s top choice.

Despite accounting for just five per cent of market share in the U.S., and falling behind Apple iPhone sales in Canada last year, BlackBerry proved in March that it can still make money, posting a profit for the end of 2012 and better-than-expected sales of phones using the new operating system. And it plans to sell the Q10 for more than the iPhone 5—$249 on a two-year contract in the U.S., and $199 on a three-year contract in Canada (it rolls out May 1 in Canada, and at the end of May in the U.S.).

Considering that some analysts say business clients can bring the company $7 to $10 in fees per person per month, compared to $1 to $4 for regular consumers, clinging to the keyboard—and staking claim to the corporate market—isn’t a bad plan. And if the public likes the Q10 as much as reviewers, 2013 could be a turn-around year for BlackBerry.