NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - As of today, it's official. the BlackBerry (BBRY - Get Report) Q10 smartphone with its new QWERTY-keyboard will go on sale from all four major U.S. cellular carriers: AT&T (T - Get Report), Sprint (S), T-Mobile (TMUS - Get Report) and Verizon (VZ - Get Report).
BlackBerry gained 0.7% to $13.63 to extend its 2013 advance to 14.8%, and beating the Nasdaq Composite index which has increased 12.7% this year.
This is the first Blackberry model with a physical keyboard and the first to run on the latest version of the company's operating system. Importantly, the Q10 is shipping with an even more modern version of the software: BlackBerry 10.1. The touchscreen-only Z10 will be getting 10.1 as an over-the-air upgrade when carriers are ready to send it down the line.
There is a lot riding on the Q10. Blackberry is relying on this, their second new handset of the year, to drive sales from both large enterprise users and individual purchasers. When people think of BlackBerries, the first thing that comes to mind is a phone with the famous keyboard just beneath the screen - which describes the new Q10.But, in a world where Apple (AAPL - Get Report) iOS and Google (GOOG) Android handsets reign getting buyers to consider BlackBerries, once again, will be an uphill battle. The hope is that the large number of companies who are onboard with Blackberry's secure, new BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) 10.1 software that handset sales will follow. That's why BlackBerry's COO Kristian Tear was in New York, today, giving me a personal guided tour of the new model. There are dozens of interesting features he pointed out with the most interesting being the Q10's stainless steel frame, the lightweight carbon-fiber back plate, a 720-by-720 pixel OLED touchscreen, a 2100 mAh rechargeable battery (larger than the one in the Z10) and a much-improved antenna system (signal reception has always been a BlackBerry strong point). It's also interesting to note what features he couldn't point out - such as the classic touch pad or even a scroll wheel. Dropping those hardware pointing devices means the keyboard is able to begin exactly where the screen ends. It's a terrific use of space.