BlackBerry to take on Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge with dual-edged smartphone

Four new smartphones announced at the Mobile World Congress including the Leap which will be out in the UAE in April.

The BlackBerry Leap during its launch at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Gustau Nacarino / Reuters
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BARCELONA // BlackBerry took observers by surprise on Tuesday when it announced plans to launch a dual curved edge smartphone, one of four devices the company plans to launch this year.

The unnamed device, shown off for mere seconds in Barcelona, has the same curved glass screen sported by Samsung's new Galaxy S6 Edge, with a slide out keyboard reminiscent of the 2010's BlackBerry Torch.

The company gave no indication as to when the device would be launched, or how it would be priced.

The first of the company’s four new devices to hit the shelves this year will be the BlackBerry Leap, a five-inch mid-range smartphone targeted at “career builders and companies who value security and privacy when pushing their productivity to the next level.”

The handset, which will run on BlackBerry 10.3.1 operating system, also offers up to 25 hours of battery life on a single charge.

Ron Louks, BlackBerry's president of devices and emerging solutions, told The National that the Leap would be launched in the UAE in April as part of the first wave of roll-outs, with a recommended price of US$275.

He said that the company also plans to launch a keyboard-based device product in the summer, and a high-end device in conjunction with Porsche, giving no further details.

The announcement comes a day after BlackBerry announced it would make its full Blackberry Experience Suite, including services such as Documents to Go and Secure Work Spaces, available to iOS, Android and Windows Phone users.

The opening of its software to other operating systems was interpreted by many as representative of the company’s new emphasis on software, with hardware development expected to take a back seat as a result.

BlackBerry’s share of the smartphone continues to dwindle, standing at just 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, down from 0.6 per cent in the same period last year.

BlackBerry chief executive John Chen said at the Mobile World Congress that the company's finances are stabilising, and that it was ahead of schedule on its two-year programme to turn its strategy and finances around.

“We’ve generated cash and that was a big deal for us because we’ve been burning cash for some time,” he said.

Mr Chen declined to comment on sales of flagship devices BlackBerry Passport and Classic, noting that the company is in a quiet period in the run up to the release of its quarterly results later this month.

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