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MWC 2014: BlackBerry Unveils Two New Smartphones

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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New BlackBerry offerings include a ‘classic’ QWERTY-based handset to appease users disappointed by recent devices

BlackBerry has taken to the stage at Mobile World Congress to reveal two new smartphones, including a classic QWERTY model, showing that beleaguered Canadian manufacturer is still determined to succeed in the mobile sector.

Company CEO John Chen took the wraps off the Z3 ‘Jakarta’ and Q20 devices, both of which are expected to go on sale later this year, alongside several new services which the company hopes will boost its flagging fortunes.

At a press briefing, Chen (below) also confirmed that the company was also working on new high-end devices, but was unable to share any details. He also stated that the company had no plans to move into wearable technology in the near future.

john chen blackberry leadClassic build

The Q20 is very much a classic BlackBerry handset, coming with the QWERTY keyboard, trackpad and other buttons, features which Chen said were repeatedly mentioned by customers during his leadership so far.

“I want these customers to know that we heard them, and this new smartphone will be for them,” Chen said. “The new BlackBerry Q20 smartphone [is] designed to give you the distinct experience that every BlackBerry QWERTY loyalist and high-productivity business customer absolutely loves. With the BlackBerry Q20 smartphone, you’ll get the familiar hard buttons and trackpad that you want, along with the best email service, the best keyboard experience and the best battery life possible.”

Although specific details were lacking, the company confirmed that the Q20 would feature a 3.5 inch touchscreen, the largest display yet on a QWERTY BlackBerry smartphone.

BlackBerry said that the Q20 will be made from ‘premium materials’ and will designed for reliability and durability, containing a ‘large’ battery to provide superior battery life and the latest updated version of the BlackBerry 10 OS.

The Q20 will be available in the second half of 2014, so further details on pricing and availability will be announced later in the year.new-blackberry-z3

The Z3, codenamed ‘Jakarta’ (pictured right), is a somewhat different offering, designed as an affordable device specifically targeted at the Indonesian consumers as BlackBerry looks to have more presence in this potentially huge developing market.

Featuring a 5 inch touchscreen and running BlackBerry 10 OS with customised access to local apps and Indonesian content, the Z3 will cost around $200 and will be built by Chinese manufacturer Foxconn as the first part of a joint partnership between the two companies.

“BlackBerry is beloved in Indonesia and its loyal fans have made it a popular smartphone brand,” said Terry Gou, Founder and Chairman, Foxconn. “This is why we are so proud to be able to help bring BlackBerry even closer to Indonesia with a fantastic product that will be accessible to even more Indonesians. This is only the beginning of what we know will be a long and fruitful partnership between Foxconn and BlackBerry.”

Is this the beginning of a new dawn for BlackBerry in 2014? Try our 2013 BlackBerry quiz!