U.S. carriers expected to ship BlackBerry Q10 in late May

Qwerty phone will run updated BlackBerry 10.1 OS; no U.S. pricing plans disclosed

The BlackBerry Q10 with its physical keyboard is expected to be available from major U.S. carriers in late May at a suggested price of $249 with a contract, a BlackBerry spokeswoman said late Tuesday.

Pricing for the BlackBerry Z10, already released, is $200 on AT&T and some other U.S. carriers with a two-year contract, or $550 without contract. Some carriers have discounted the contract price.

None of the major U.S. carriers have announced pricing or exact availability for the Q10, which features a 35-key qwerty keyboard and a 3.1-in. touchscreen.

"In the U.S. market, the BlackBerry Q10 is priced so it can be available at a suggested retail price of $249 on contract," BlackBerry spokeswoman Kiyomi Rutledge said in an email. "Carriers will confirm pricing closer to availability. We expect the BlackBerry Q10 to be available in the U.S. by the end of May."

She noted that the Q10 will go on sale in Canada starting May 1 from Rogers, Bell Mobility and Telus for $199 with a three-year contract.

In the U.S., Sprint was one of the first carriers to commit to carrying the Q10, although it hasn't given details about its plans.

AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile are also expected to sell the Q10.

BlackBerry expects many of its existing customer base of 76 million users to purchase the Q10. Michael Clewley, director of handheld software product management at BlackBerry, said that many of the users now run BlackBerry 7 or an earlier version of the OS.

"There is massive pent-up demand for a physical keyboard product," Clewley said in an interview.

Nokia teased a peek at a new qwerty phone in a blog post that showed just the corner of a yellow-colored mobile phone with two physical keys.

A full announcement of the device is expected early Wednesday.

The Z10 runs BlackBerry 10, while the Q10 will ship with an update, Clewley said. The updated will be provided at a later time over-the-air to the Z10, he added.

The 10.1 update provides features like Instant Action for keyboard shortcuts and the ability to connect to a BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 server to manage end user activities on the Q10.

The update also adds the ability to connect over a short messaging network called PIN-to-PIN, which was developed in BlackBerry's early days of paging, Clewley said.

While the Q10 has a smaller screen than the Z10, it has a 2100 mAh battery, while the Z10's battery is 1800 mAh.

Both have a dual core 1.5 GHz processor, both have 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of Flash storage and a slot for adding up to 32 GB. Both have rear cameras of 8 megapixels and front cameras of 2 megapixles. Both have NFC chips for file sharing and mobile payments.

The 3.1-in. display in the Q10 is Super AMOLED, compared to the Z10's 4.2 -in. LCD display. The Q10 display is 720 x 720 pixels, coming it at 330 pixels per inch, which compared to 356 ppi on the Z10.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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