The hole RIM has found itself in is deep, dark, and doused in despair. And as much as the company's gambling on its new BB10 platform to pull itself up, an operating system's only as good as the phones running it. So take a good, hard look at this supposed BlackBerry N-Series device. It could be RIM's best shot at survival.

The full QWERTY keyboard N-Series, and its touchscreen play cousin L-Series, are going to lead RIM's charge back to relevance in just a few short months. And the picture here, posted by CNbeta, shows a device that's at least worth a second look. Competent physical keyboards are few and far between in our capacitive present, and could be the one tent-pole feature RIM can claim true ownership of.

Even if the N-Series passes the looks test, there are still plenty of open questions about BB10, about what kind of guts will power it, about whether RIM can find enough developers to make apps for it. But all great comebacks are made one step at a time. And this seems, at glance, like a decent one. [CNbeta via Crackberry]