The BlackBerry Q10 is an easy phone to appreciate - in fact, if you have the right bit of old-fashioned in you, it's an easy phone to love. It's skillfully designed and adequately powered, a modern take on a traditional aesthetic, the next installment of a classic that couldn't care less about the taste of the mass.
BlackBerry is clearly taking care of its own here. The Q10 is a rallying statement - it's probably meant to reassure the loyal users that innovation and change won't come at the expense of tradition.
The hope is of course that loyal users will love the Q10 back. Stealing customers from other platforms is the BlackBerry Z10's job and how well it does at that is the subject of another discussion. The Q10, on the other hand, will be expected to replace an army of Curves and Bolds in business suit pockets.
The thing is the corporate world has long ceased to be a BlackBerry stronghold. iOS, Android and Windows Phone have consistently demonstrated their business benefits, touchscreen keyboards have been getting better, and BlackBerry no longer holds sole ownership over corporate email.
And the very QWERTY messenger concept is well past its prime. Android clearly can't be bothered about the form factor - Samsung's Chat and Galaxy Pro, the HTC ChaCha and a couple of Droid Pros by Motorola are not recent enough to begin with, and certainly not as high-aiming as the BlackBerry Q10.
One would think Windows Phone may've seen a point in exploring the concept of a QWERTY messenger, but Microsoft is probably keener to move towards touchscreen on desktop rather than fiddle about phones with buttons.
Now, that leaves the BlackBerry Q10 virtually free of competition but it sure looks like a game no other smartphone manufacturer considers worth playing.
The BlackBerry Z10 then is very much a strong alternative. It has more processing power and a bigger 4.2" display, along with an advanced on-screen keyboard to make up for the absence of actual keys to type on. Not least, the Z10 is cheaper too, and more in sync with the market trends.
The recently announced BlackBerry Q5 is a downgraded version of the Q10, with the same screen estate and resolution, but given up AMOLED in favor of IPS LCD. The CPU is slightly less powerful, the camera resolution is down to 5MP and the smartphone is nowhere nearly as nice looking as the Q10. The Q5 is supposed to hit the shelves in July as the younger, more affordable alternative in BlackBerry's updated lineup.
So, this is where we part ways with the BlackBerry Q10. If the goal was to offer a fresh, refined and forward-looking alternative of the classic QWERTY messenger, the Canadians have over-delivered. BB10 OS does most things well and the QWERTY + touchscreen combo works convincingly.
In terms of where the market is heading and where BlackBerry want to be, we cannot help the thought that they'd rather have the Z10, and its successors, up there with the best than keep the messenger concept on life support. On the other hand, it's QWERTY messengers that have shaped the company's identity. It's a tough one, finding the right balance between what the market wants and respect of tradition.