BlackBerry has jumped back into the touchscreen smartphone market with the launch of the BlackBerry Leap.
Unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the five-inch, mid-range smartphone eschews the famous QWERTY keyboard in favour of a 1280×720 screen.
The device runs the BlackBerry 10 OS and features an 8-megapixel camera. It will cost $US275 and is set to go on sale in developing markets such as Indonesia and Brazil. It will then roll out to the US and some European markets in April.
The main selling points, BlackBerry said, are the Leap’s battery life (the company claims it can last up to 25 hours of “heavy use”) and its security — it has encryption support plus built-in anti-malware protection and a back-up wipe and restore function.
It’s not the first time BlackBerry has rolled out a full touchscreen phone: It’s first smartphone running on the BlackBerry 10 OS was the full touchscreen Z10, which launched in 2013. Later that year the company also rolled out the A10 phablet. And at last year’s Mobile World Congress, BlackBerry launched the Z3, which had a full touchscreen. But the launch of the Leap gives BlackBerry a more rounded current portfolio — although it’s unclear how a BlackBerry phone without the signature keyboard — or any other standout features — will be able to compete with Android devices in the same price range.
Here’s a video giving you an idea of the BlackBerry’s target Leap owner.
BlackBerry also teased another smartphone with a curved display (a bit like the Samsung Galaxy Edge, which was unveiled in Barcelona on Sunday) and slide-out keyboard for traditional BlackBerry enthusiasts. But the announcement was literally a teaser: The phone doesn’t yet have a name, release date, or a RRP.
On a similar note, BlackBerry also revealed it is working again with Porsche to create a high-end, luxury smartphone. The device is codenamed “Keian.” Again, no further details.