After a long period of rumors, BlackBerry recently confirmed that it would be releasing two Android-powered smartphones.
The new models will use the Google operating system rather than the BlackBerry 10 OS. Now leaked images of the handsets, known as Hamburg and Rome, have appeared online.
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New smartphones follow release of BlackBerry Priv
The images give us a sneak peek of what the design, keyboard and display will look like. The first report of an Android-powered BlackBerry appeared in June 2015, and it looked like a last roll of the dice for the company in the hardware market.
BlackBerry made its name through its use of physical QWERTY keyboards, and the new device stayed true to tradition. This was a good move in terms of holding on to BlackBerry loyalists, but a gamble in a market where all other major rivals use virtual keyboards.
Developed under the codename “Venice,” the device was later released as the BlackBerry Priv. It packed in an impressive set of features that put it on the same level as other flagship Android smartphones at the time, and even had a curved display similar to the one used on the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
Mid-range handsets could be last from company
The Priv was released with all major U.S. carriers, and came to Verizon in March. Around that time CEO John Chen confirmed that another two Android smartphones were in the pipeline.
While the Priv targeted the premium market, the two new models will sit firmly in the mid-range with prices around $300-400. Since posting the images, the site that first put them up has been taken offline.
According to the images the BlackBerry Hamburg features a similar design to the Priv, with a curved OLED display. There may also be a slide out QWERTY keyboard, although it is not shown in its open position. You can also see a speaker grill below the screen, and the phone will run Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
The BlackBerry Rome has a fixed physical QWERTY keyboard and also runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It could also have a curved display.
Rumors predict that the Hamburg will be released in Q2 and cost around $400. The Rome is believed to cost $300 but no expected release date has been revealed.
BlackBerry could concentrate on profitable software business
This really does look like the last set of handsets that BlackBerry will release. Chen previously said that the success of the Priv would inform future hardware strategy, and the handset has sold poorly.
Analysts believe that the Priv was simply priced too high, with many people balking at the $700 price tag. The company should arguably have tried to entice customers with lower prices in order to try and gain back some market share.
As it stands several popular apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook have ended support for the BlackBerry operating system, citing a lack of users. It’s a sorry state of affairs for a company that used to dominate the smartphone market.
Bar a massive turnaround in fortunes it looks as though BlackBerry will abandon the hardware market. Some analysts have previously urged the company to concentrate on its software business, which remains profitable.
Some users may still enjoy the physical keyboard on a BlackBerry, but it seems that there is little else keeping people with the company. Chen has a lot of work to do and so far nothing has worked.