More images leak of new low-cost BlackBerry phone

April 09, 2013

NEW YORK, April 9 — BlackBerry’s upcoming low-cost phone will sport a full QWERTY keyboard and look similar to the existing Curve handset, leaked images suggest.

Following the leak of a crude, hand-drawn image, claiming to represent the first affordable BlackBerry handset to support the company’s latest BB10 operating system, the BlackBerry OS blog has published a “real” image of what it claims is the R10 mid-range handset. 

The BlackBerry Q10 will be the first smartphone with a proper keyboard able to run the latest BlackBerry operating system. — Picture courtesy of BlackBerryThe BlackBerry Q10 will be the first smartphone with a proper keyboard able to run the latest BlackBerry operating system. — Picture courtesy of BlackBerryFollowing along the lines of the rumours that have come before, the handset sports a full QWERTY keyboard and looks very similar to the company’s existing Curve smartphone.

The phone is expected to boast 8GB of internal storage (half that of the current range-topping keyboard-based Q10 model) plus an SD expansion slot and a side-mounted SIM card slot for quick swapping — something of great importance to business travellers (who constantly cross international borders) and for consumers in emerging markets alike, who use different SIMs from different carriers for local calls, international calls and mobile Internet access.

BlackBerry is yet to officially confirm or deny if this image is real but it has confirmed that a more affordable handset will be launched before the end of 2013.

The Canadian company is currently on the ropes; despite what appear to be strong sales of its first new handset, the full touchscreen Z10, BlackBerry is losing subscribers. Analysts, investors, network operators and consumers alike are low on confidence in the company. 

The official launch of the Q10, its first new QWERTY keyboard smartphone to run the latest operating system, could make a big difference to its fortunes as one the company’s historical strengths was its perseverance with a real keyboard. 

The Q10 also boasts a 3.1-inch super AMOLED touch screen and 16GB of internal storage plus NFC support and an 8-megapixel rear-facing and 2-megapixel front facing camera.

However, in the UK — the first territory where the phone is scheduled to launch — none of the network carriers are promoting its arrival. Rather the country’s two largest phone retailers, Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U, have simply started taking pre-orders for the device, as if to test the waters. Both companies are also offering incentives to attract orders; Carphone Warehouse is bundling a free Bluetooth speaker with the handset while Phones4U is offering a PlayBook tablet.

Meanwhile, it was reported this weekend in the Guardian that Spain’s largest telecoms operator, Telefónica, has been granted a €200 million (RM820 million) loan facility by the Canadian government to protect it from the risk of continuing to do business with BlackBerry. The loan is intended to make it easier for the company to buy and sell BlackBerry products and services. 

Announcing the loan, Lewis Megaw, regional vice-president Africa Europe and the Middle for East Export Development Canada (EDC), says the financing is “really about making the transactions between BlackBerry and Telefónica easier, helping to enhance and broaden the relationship between these two major global players.”

Such a move could reduce confidence in BlackBerry’s fortunes even further, or, due to the fact that the Canadian government is willing to intervene in order to preserve what was, until several years ago, one of its all-time greatest business success stories, could provide consumers and network operators alike the reassurance they need to stick with BlackBerry or to give the company another go. — AFP-Relaxnews