Amid growing rumours of an impending release by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL
) of a budget iPhone handset, BlackBerry Ltd. (TSE: BB
) yesterday announced that its own not-so-cheap Q5 smart phone will be rolling out in Canada in two weeks.
The handset, which features a QWERTY keyboard, made its debut in Dubai in June and has since been available in other Asian and Middle East countries. It will be available to Canadians come August 13 through carriers Bell, Fido, Koodo, Sasktel, Telus and Virgin Mobile Canada. Buyers can also purchase the Q5 from retail outlets Best Buy Canada, Future Shop, Target TBooth Wireless, The Mobile Shop, The Source, WalMart and Wirelesswave.
“Canada is our home, and bringing the BlackBerry Q5 smart phone here is a testament to our strong partner support and ongoing commitment to delivering innovative technologies that enables Canadian enterprises and consumers to improve how they connect and communicate,” said Andrew MacLeod, managing director for Canada at BlackBerry.
The Q5 comes with BlackBerry 10 version 10.1. The phone is available in two colours – black and red.
The dual core phone, which comes with a 3.1-inch touch screen and 4G LTE network support, is being aimed at business users and consumers looking for a smart phone features at a lower price.
In recent weeks there have been reports that Apple is poised to release this summer a cheap all plastic version of the iPhone. The phone is expected to run on a new version of the iOS operating system and is supposed to compete with lower-priced Android-powered handsets.
The timing of the Q5 release could be perfect for BlackBerry to take advantage of recent wireless plan changes in Canada.
Over the last few years the growing popularity of smart phones have seen the market flooded with handsets such as the iPhone, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.’s (KRX: 0005930
) Android powered Galaxy and BlackBerry’s Z10 and Q10 priced at around $400 to more than $700.
Users have been able to avoid paying a steep upfront cost largely through long-term phone contracts that subsidized the price of hardware. Users, did pay a fee if they broke their three-year contract.
However, in June the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued new rules that allow consumers to opt out of their three-year contracts without penalty. This has taken the incentive away from carriers to offer high-end phones at discount prices. Full-feature smart phones that come with a cheaper price tag would then be very attractive to carriers.
The Q5, however, may not be so cheap. Canadian pricing will not be announced until next month, but in Europe, an unlocked Q5 sells for about $500. That’s more expensive that other keyboard phones and just the same as the iPhone 4 and Galaxy SIII.