Even though the two smartphones based on BlackBerry 10 operating system are nothing but impressive, their prices are pretty high, which will inevitably limit their adoption as they will compete head to head with Apple iPhone as well as high-end Samsung Galaxy S, which basically means that the vast majority of consumers will not prefer a BlackBerry. As it appears, the company is working on less expensive handsets as well.
“Expect [mid-range BB10] around mid-year in various markets and we will address that […] properly in the midrange. But I mean fiscal year midrange, not calendar year. […] We are looking forward to that, because we know there is a big demand even in the midrange,” said Thorsten Heins, chief executive officer of BlackBerry, during a conference call with financial analysts.
Previously, BlackBerry was cautious about plans to design smartphones for mainstream market or even entry-level market, but as it appears, a mid-range BB10 handset is on track for release in the middle of BlackBerry’s fiscal 2014, which is around September – October, calendar 2013. Moreover, throughout this FY2014, which ends in March, 2013, the company wants to roll-out a top-to-bottom range of smartphones based on the BlackBerry 10 platform.
“Everybody is looking at the Z10, and we are proud of the Z10, make no mistake, but we are doing much more than that. We are building a portfolio in this fiscal year, so you will see us getting into the market with various products. You know, 1-1-1-1. So we are actually really working on a whole portfolio that we will take to market this year. That’s what we’re excited about,” said Mr. Heins.
At present it is unclear which segments of the smartphone market BlackBerry wants to address. For example, it is logical for the company to address the market of the so-called super-phones with 4.7” displays and larger. Besides, the company can try to roll-out an entry-level BlackBerry that would compete for the first-time smartphone users without huge budgets.
Earlier this year BlackBerry unveiled the first smartphones based on the BB10 platform: the Z10 with 4.2” multi-touch display with 1280*768 resolution (356 pixels per inch) and the Q10 with QWERTY keyboard and 3.1” display with 720*720 resolution.
The new BlackBerry 10 smartphones are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 system-on-chip [dual-core Krait 1.50GHz cores with 1MB L2 cache, Adreno 225 graphics, dual-channel LPDDR2 memory controller, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, global 4G/LTE, HSPA+ and so on], 2GB of LPDDR2 memory, 16GB of NAND flash internal storage, 8MP cameras and an expandable memory card slot. Both feature a micro HDMI out port for presentations, and advanced sensors such NFC (near field communications) to support mobile payments and the exchange of information with a tap of the smartphone. They also have a removable battery. Versions of BB10 smartphones sold outside the U.S. and Canada will feature Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 application processors with two ARM Cortex A9 and two ARM Cortex-M3 cores as well as PowerVR SGX544 3D graphics and Vivante 2D graphics engines.
BlackBerry Z10 is available today for $199 with two years contract or for $699 unlocked in the U.S. The Q10 will become available in April, pricing is unknown.