BlackBerry Q20 to sport trackpad, QWERTY keyboard

After admitting it has disappointed loyal fans by getting rid of the physical keyboard and trackpad on some of its new handsets, BlackBerry Ltd.,  it is bringing back the much loved features on an upcoming smart phone.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, BlackBerry [TSE:BB] also said Tuesday that its new Q20 handset, which is scheduled for release at the second half of 2014, will sport the familiar End, Menu and Call Send hard keys to enable easy navigation.

These features were mainstays in the early BlackBerry handsets but were ditched by the company when it introduced its touchscreen-based Z10 and Q10 phones in 2013 which suffered lackluster sales.

The Q20 is “a device that will feel familiar to loyal BlackBerry customers around the world and is designed to deliver the full classic QWERTY experience,” said Donny Halliwell, editor of the Inside BlackBerry blog.

John Chen, CEO of the Waterloo, Ont. smart phone company, said the physical keyboard was missed by many BlackBerry users.

“In my first 90 days of the job, I consistently heard from our ardent BlackBerry customers that the hard buttons and trackpad are an essential part of the BlackBerry QWERTY experience, that made their BlackBerry smart phone their go-to productivity tool,” he said in a statement. “I want these customers to know that we heard them, and this new smart phone will be for them.”

BlackBerry’s latest handset will also have features like the BlackBerry Hub, where users find their messages in one place; enterprise connectivity with the BlackBerry enterprise Service 10; and a 3.5” touchscreen.

BlackBerry also announced a low-cost 5” full touchscreen smart phone. The Z3 will be the company’s first device to be manufactured by Taiwanese device maker Foxconn Technology Group and will sell for around $200. It will be released in April and will be available in growth markets such as Indonesia.

Chen was also quoted on the Mobile World Live Web site as saying if all goes well the company will get back to break-even this fiscal year (which ends March, 2015) and be profitable the year after.

Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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