BlackBerry to launch new mid-range Android smartphones: BB CEO John Chen

BlackBerry, after launching a premium Android smartphone named Priv recently, is reportedly cooking up on two mid-range Android smartphones, which is expected to be released by the end of 2016.

In an exclusive interview to The National website, John Chen, CEO declined to reveal the estimated time frame for the launch but told that out of the smartphones, one of them will accompany a full touchscreen while the other will be equipped with a physical Qwerty keyboard.

Even though Chen did not disclose the specifications and features of the upcoming budget Android devices, he informed that the two new Android smartphones will be priced between Rs. 20,000 ($300) to Rs. 26,000 ($400).

Responding to media queries, Chen accepted the fact that the recently released high-end BlackBerry Priv smartphone is not selling on the expected lines and blamed it on the steep price. Even enterprise customers were hesitant to purchase a handset for $700 when competing devices are available at $400, adds Chen.

Even though Blackberry Priv was welcomed by tech enthusiasts positively and is a nice-looking device, business houses demanded a smartphone under $400, so that they can place orders in bulk for their employees. It will be interesting to see what Blackberry has in store for the upcoming two mid-range Android phones.

BlackBerry PRIV

BlackBerry Priv, loaded with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop and priced at Rs. 62,990 features a 5.4-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixels) AMOLED display, Snapdragon 808 hexacore processor coupled with 3GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage, 18MP/2MP camera including 3,410mAh battery.

Chen, meanwhile, denied rumors and categorically stated that the company has no plans to release new devices with BB10 OS though the company will still support the platform.

Despite the proposed launch of two budget Android devices, we can’t rule out the possibility of Chen selling off BlackBerry’s handset division if it failed to break even by Q2 2017. Interestingly, he floated the idea in 2013 but gave up following amidst pressures from customers and employees.

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