BlackBerry Inc today unveiled a 5-inch touch-screen phone priced at USD 275 (about Rs 17,000) as it looks to regain customers by targeting the mid-market segment.
The Leap, which comes in white and gray, will replace the Z3 phone launched a year ago and will take on devices of rivals, Samsung and Apple.
Waterloo, Ontario-based BlackBerry unveiled the new phone at the Mobile World Congress here and said Leap will go on sale in US and Europe in April and other markets like India later in the year.
BlackBerry chief executive John Chen, who brought back the iconic physical keyboard after he took over BlackBerry in late 2013, said two more models - both with a keyboard, will be roll-out this year.
One of the two will be a high-end smartphone with “a dual curve all touch display” with a keyboard behind a slide.
“We don’t have a code name for it but I call it The Slide,” Chen said here.
The Leap is aimed at boosting BlackBerry’s market share among younger professionals used to touch screens.
BlackBerry, once a must-have device for business executives for its pioneering secure email service, has hemorrhaged market share to Apple’s iPhone and rivals running on Google’s Android software.
After Chen took over, it launched the Passport and the Classic. The BlackBerry PassPort “is doing pretty good,” he said.
BlackBerry is boosting investment in encryption and privacy features of its software.
“We are going to make sure our software technology addresses everybody’s phones and everybody’s endpoint,” Chen said.
Aimed at the young mobile professionals, the device features a five-inch all-touch screen with BlackBerry 10.3.1 operating system, 16 GB storage, 8 MP camera and 2,800 mAh battery.
“The BlackBerry Leap is an affordable all-touch smartphone. In today’s mobile world, where personal and corporate data are frequently under attack from hackers, companies and everyday consumers are finding out the hard way that mobile security is paramount,” BlackBerry President Devices and Emerging Solutions Ron Louks said.
BlackBerry Leap is built specifically for mobile professionals who see their smartphone device as a powerful and durable productivity tool that also safeguards sensitive communications at all times, he added.
Besides ‘Slide’, it will also plans introduce a followup to the high-end Porsche edition BlackBerry, which it released last year.
Chen said BlackBerry is “committed to making software as a business. That statement carries a lot.”