Back at MWC, BlackBerry announced a new "all-touch" smartphone called the BlackBerry Leap, which was targeting mainly the mid range of the market with a $275 price tag. The device is now shipping in the U.S. and UK, and it will ship tomorrow to France and Germany, as well.
The BlackBerry Leap comes with the latest BlackBerry 10.3.1 OS and a Snapdragon S4 Plus processor, which is rather dated even for today's mid-range processors, such as the 64-bit Cortex-A53-based chips. The device has a 5.0" screen and only a 720p resolution. That's too low-res for some users, but it should help increase the battery life of the device. It has a 2,800 mAh battery, which according to the company gives the smartphone up to 25 hours of juice under mixed usage.
Other specs include 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage, support for microSD expansion up to 128 GB, LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, FM radio, Miracast, DLNA, and GPS and GLONASS support. The phone also has an 8MP rear camera with an LED flash and a 2MP front camera. According to BlackBerry, despite the lack of a physical keyboard, the Leap still has a "best-in-class" software keyboard.
BlackBerry also added the "Blend" functionality to the Leap, which is a way to view the phone's contents on your PC. That includes access to the BlackBerry Hub, BBM, text messages, contacts, file manager, work browser, calendar and notifications.
The Leap supports not one, but two app stores: BlackBerry's own app store and Amazon's app store, which gives the device access to hundreds of thousands of Android apps. Not all Android apps will be there, but it includes some popular ones such as Pinterest, Candy Crush Saga, Cut the Rope 2, Kindle, SoundCloud and more.
BlackBerry also added "Device Guard" functionality, which is sort of an anti-virus that verifies the apps for known malware.
The Leap supports some strong encryption tools as well, although unfortunately, they can only be used by enterprise customers. These tools include:
Advanced Data at Rest Protection, which keeps data encrypted when not in usePGP email for end-to-end encryptionSupport for Kerberos authentication to retrieve public certificates for an LDAP directory for S/MIME
BlackBerry's new smartphone also comes with the Blackberry Assistant, which has deep integration into the BlackBerry Hub, Contacts and Calendar.
You can purchase the BlackBerry Leap for $275 in the U.S. from BlackBerry's store or from Amazon. The smartphone is also available in the UK for £199, France and Germany for €289 (shipping tomorrow), and is "coming soon" to Canada, India, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Update, 4/24/15, 9:15am: Added hands-on video.