The keys are slightly beveled to make them easy to handle. I found that, after several days of use, I gradually went back to my old way of two-thumb fast typing, the way I used to work with an older BlackBerry (instead of pecking with my right-hand index finger while holding the phone with the left hand, which I do with modern virtual keypads). Maybe I've lost something by going virtual? With the Curve, I could type entire stories by thumbing along at a fast pace -- a real advantage while covering crowded trade shows.
Aside from the keyboard, controls include a power button on the top edge and three buttons on the right for volume and other functions, the same as the Z10.
The back of the Q10 has another steel fret running horizontally just below the camera and flash ports. This rear-side fret is not flush with the plastic back cover, and rides a tad higher: According to Michael Clewley, director of handheld software product management at BlackBerry, designers created it this way to keep the back cover from getting scuffed from constantly being laid down and picked up from a desk or other surface. It's a neat design idea, although it's hard to say if it will work in the long term.
Hardware by the numbers
To accommodate the keyboard, the Q10 has a 3.1-in. display, which is 25% smaller than the 4.2-in. display on the Z10 (and also smaller than the displays of most competing smartphones). I noticed this reduced real estate immediately when reading Web pages and looking at longer emails and documents (although it didn't matter at all for instant and text messages). The smaller screen doesn't invite you to watch videos or play games either, although neither is impossible.
Why? Because even at the Q10's 3.1-in. screen size, BlackBerry made a good choice by going with Super AMOLED (which is not quite full HD). The 720-x-720-resolution (330 pixels per inch) display shows images brighter and crisper than does the LCD screen of the Z10, and I found it especially good for watching video and reading websites with images.
The BlackBerry Q10 (left) sports a qwerty keyboard and a smaller touchscreen than the BlackBerry Z10, but the Q10's Super AMOLED display is noticeably brighter than the Z10's LCD.
Aside from differences with the keyboard and display, the Z10 and Q10 offer pretty much the same hardware. Both run dual-core 1.5GHz processors, which provide snappy performance for touches, swipes and other inputs in various applications. Both have 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and a microSD slot under the back cover for adding up to 32GB. Also, both have 8-megapixel rear cameras and 2-megapixel front-facing cameras. Both contain NFC chips for file exchanges and support for mobile payments.