Ina Fried, Bonnie Cha

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Most — But Maybe Not All — U.S. Carriers Will Have BlackBerry 10 Device by March

It has long been known that Research In Motion would show the first BlackBerry 10 devices today. One key question is just when you will be able to buy one.

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And the news was not exactly promising, especially for those in the United States. First came word via The Wall Street Journal that it would be March before the first customers in the U.S. could buy a device.

Onstage, things actually got a bit worse, as Heins said “most” of the big four U.S. carriers would have it by March. Verizon announced that it would carry both the touchscreen Z10 and keyboard-equipped Q10 handhelds, but did not give availability.

The Z10 will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract. Pricing for the Q10 was not revealed at this time. Both devices will support the carrier’s 4G LTE network, and will come in black or white. The white Z10 will be an exclusive to Verizon Wireless.

AT&T is also set to offer both smartphones, but no word on pricing or release date. T-Mobile has a landing page up for the Z10, and it’s worth noting that it looks like the handset will support its upcoming 4G LTE network.

Sprint also said it would carry a device “later this year,” but it is carrying the keyboard-equipped Q10, which is expected to arrive later than the Z10.

Heins said the company’s main priority is getting the Z10 out the door. As for the keyboard-equipped Q10, “I think we will expect to see it in the April timeframe,” he said.

The device is going on sale in Canada and some other countries as soon as next week.

Speaking with reporters, Heins said Wednesday that a longer testing period at U.S. carriers is why it will take longer to hit the market here.

“The reason is that the testing process in the U.S. with those carrier partners is a rather lengthy one,” Heins said.

The BlackBerry Z10 features a 4.2-inch touchscreen displaying 356 pixels per inch. It has an eight-megapixel camera on back, and only comes in a 16 gigabyte model, though there is a memory-expansion slot. Meanwhile, the BlackBerry Q10 features a full physical keyboard with a 3.1-inch, 720 by 720-pixel touch display.

In his review of the BlackBerry Z10, AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg found the hardware decent and the user interface easy to use, but said that it will need to continue to add more apps if it’s going to succeed.

The BlackBerry 10 event is still taking place. Click here for our live coverage.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik