BlackBerry launches new entry-level 9720 smartphone running old BB7 OS

BlackBerry has launched a new smartphone equipped with an old operating system targeted at the low end of the market.

Earlier this year, BlackBerry launched its BB10 operating system. But the new OS only runs on a select few handsets (like the BlackBerry Z10) and many of its smartphones are still shipping with an version 7 of the system.

The new BlackBerry 9720 smartphone is equipped to run a slightly boosted version of that OS, BlackBerry 7.1, and features a QWERTY keyboard, 2.8in touchscreen and trackpad for easy navigation.

BlackBerry said: "The new BlackBerry 9720 smartphone takes everything you’d get from a starter smartphone to the next level, and comes packed with all of your favourite social apps to let you spark the conversation."

Carlo Chiarello, executive vice president for products at BlackBerry, added: "The 9720 has the best keyboard and functionality for BBM [BlackBerry Messaging], as well as an updated BlackBerry 7 OS that adds many enhancements."

"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.”

Some of the OS 7.1 enhancements include: an updated interface that lets you swipe to unlock the phone or access the camera from the lock screen. The phone also includes a dedicated BBM key, and the device includes BBM Voice, which lets you chat over Wi-Fi for free with other BBM Voice users.

There is also a built-in FM Radio, a 5-megapixel camera, and multi-casting allows users to type a message once and post it simultaneously and instantly to friends and contacts on BBM, Twitter and Facebook.

The BlackBerry 9720 smartphone will be available in "select markets" in Asia, EMEA and Latin America, BlackBerry noted.