BlackBerry has been spending the past few years playing catch up with touchscreen smartphones like the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy range. But for its next act, BlackBerry is going back to basics and offering a phone that features one of the best features of the company’s older phones: a QWERTY keyboard.
The BlackBerry Q20 is a flagship phone with a 3.5 inch touchscreen, a physical keyboard and trackpad, and BlackBerry 10 software. It’s set to launch in the second half of 2014.
BlackBerry says the new phone will combine the modern features of BlackBerry 10 software with the classic design of the company’s patented keyboard as well as physical menu, back, send, and end buttons.
There was a time when BlackBerry was one of the dominant players in the smartphone space thanks at least in part to the company’s keyboards and its emphasis on messaging software — a keyboard’s only useful if you have something to write.
These days BlackBerry is a niche player in a market dominated by Android and iOS. Emphasizing features that help set BlackBerry apart may or may not be what it takes to turn things around… but it’s one of the only plays the company has left (short of dropping its own operating system and adopting Android, or getting out of the hardware business altogether and offering apps and services for other platforms).