New Mid-Range BlackBerry 9720 Runs Old Operating System

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Troubled BlackBerry announces mid-range smartphone running old software

Just one day after it effectively put itself up for sale, BlackBerry has announced a new mid-range smartphone running the previous version of its operating system, the BlackBerry 9720.

The smartphone runs BlackBerry OS 7.1 and is billed as a communication focused “starter smartphone” with many of the Canadian’s trademark features such as a QWERTY-based keyboard and trackball.

It has a dedicated BlackBerry Messenger key, a 2.3-inch touch display capable of a 480 x 320 resolution and a five megapixel rear camera. The internal specs are fairly modest with a 806 MHz processor, 512MB of RAM and 512MB of internal storage that can be topped up with a MicroSD card slot.

BlackBerry 9720

BlackBerry 9720 tilted“It’s perfect for customers upgrading from a feature phone or entry-level Android or Windows Phone device, as well as existing BlackBerry smartphone customers, that want a richer experience and jump up in style and performance,” said Carlo Chiarello, executive vice president for Products at BlackBerry.

“The BlackBerry 9720 smartphone gives you all the essentials of the BlackBerry smartphone experience to support a communications centric lifestyle. It has the best keyboard and functionality for BBM, as well as an updated BlackBerry 7 OS that adds many enhancements.”

Although clearly intended for the mid-range and emerging markets, BlackBerry’s decision to use its aging BB7 platform is curious, especially given the recent focus on BlackBerry 10 and its failure to revive the struggling Canadian manufacturer’s fortunes. A mid-range BlackBerry 10 handset, the BlackBerry Q5 was announced earlier this year.

Yesterday, BlackBerry admitted it is considering a sale of the company after it announced the formation of a special committee to investigate “strategic alternatives” for the company going forward.

BlackBerry’s value has fallen from a 2008 peak of $84 billion (£54b) to $4.8 billion (£3.1b) in recent times, while it posted a £55 million loss in its most recent quarterly results. Until now, the company had been determined to remain independent, but shareholders have started to doubt the firm’s chances of staging a turnaround.

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BlackBerry 9720

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