The BlackBerry Z3, also known as "Jakarta" or "Jet," is the first of a new generation of BlackBerry handsets. Coming out in April in Indonesia for under $200 (£120), the Jakarta is designed to stop BlackBerry from bleeding out its share in some of its strongest markets – Southeast Asian countries where mobile users are both price sensitive and BBM-mad.
"Our phones were priced a little too high; that's exactly why we created the Jet," BlackBerry CEO John Chen said. "The Jakarta phone will come in and will be extremely competitive, and you'll see when it comes out that it will have some [special] features of BBM that will help the market share come back."
I got an up-close look at the Z3. It isn't made of the same premium materials that grace other BlackBerry phones, but it still appears to be a quality black plastic. It's a large-ish phone with a 5in screen and significant top and bottom bezels. The back is textured, with a crosshatch pattern and a rectangular bump near the bottom for the single main speaker. The edges have a slight roll to them, but the corners aren't nearly as rounded as the BlackBerry Z10's; it's more of a cut off, Nokia roll.
I see what BlackBerry's doing here: the Z3's design echoes the Z10 and Z30, but it's clearly made from less expensive stuff.
BlackBerry hasn't revealed much in terms of specs for the Z3, though the model I briefly saw seemed to be running BlackBerry OS 10.2.1 just fine. It'll be a 3G phone initially, with an LTE version coming out later this year, Chen said. According to CrackBerry, which is usually pretty reliable, this phone has a 960 x 540 screen, 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 5-megapixel main camera. The screen certainly looked a bit dimmer and less dense than the boldly coloured 720p AMOLED on BlackBerry's Z30.
The real question here is whether BlackBerry's OS can truly compete when the phones are the same price and hardware quality as good midrange Android phones. Android has massive momentum in Southeast Asia and other Z3 targets like India, and BBM is now available for Android – in fact, we saw it running yesterday on Nokia's Android-powered X phone.
We'll be looking for more details on the Z3 in the near future. Even though it's unlikely to come to the UK or US, this is the future of one of North America's great tech companies.
Also at MWC, Chen announced a new phone – the Q20 – designed to appeal to BlackBerry's corporate faithful, and he hinted at more devices. BlackBerry also unveiled its new eBBM mobile messaging solution for the enterprise.
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