There was a time that BlackBerrys ruled the world—until iPhones and Androids came into the picture. What was once the go-to device for multitasking professionals now had to play catch-up; and it seems that their latest offering, the BlackBerry Leap is finally designed to do just that.
Notably, the device is finally free from the physical Qwerty keyboard that became the maker’s trademark. Their previous offerings, intended to keep up with the latest iOS and Android offerings, the Classic and Passport still sported the tactile keys to satisfy old school users who couldn’t handle touchscreens.
The Leap however is now designed to draw ‘young power professionals’—a demographic of junior managers and executives who need the functionality that BlackBerry is known for minus all the distraction of apps and games.
The device is set to launch in Malaysia on May 20, and if you’re on the lookout for something straightforward and functional, here’s what you have to know about it.
Minimalism is the focus of BlackBerry with its sturdy non-slip shell, which probably gives it better chance of surviving a drop as opposed to iPhones or Samsungs. It features square edges, that while one might assume will make it unwieldy in your hands, actually offers a comfortable grip.
It features a 5-inch screen with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels that offers crisp visuals and a decent viewing experience—certainly a welcome change from the 2-inch screens that BlackBerry’s are typically known for.
The BlackBerry’s virtual keyboard is a highlight and really mimics the typing experience one would have on a physical keyboard.
In addition, it features an 8 megapixel rear camera, and a 2 megapixel front facing camera, with face detection features for both and auto-suggest settings designed to determine the right settings and take the best photos in different environments.
BlackBerry has yet to fully integrate an Android operating system into its handsets, which means it will still run on its exclusive OS, BlackBerry 10, which arguably still is the best system to handle email. A lot of smartphone users use it for emails, which the Leap can handle easily.
That said, if you want to do more on your smartphone than reply to emails—games, apps, music, videos, social media, the usual smartphone fodder, then (as you probably already expected) you’re in for a disappointment. Running on its exclusive OS means BlackBerry will have very limited access to apps.
Then again, if you are using this as a work phone, then it eliminates the distraction and memory issues that having too much options in the app store presents.
The bane of any smartphone user’s existence is apparently now solved with the Leap. Granted it will have far less games and apps for you to fiddle with and will probably be largely used for emailing and instant messaging, but the makers are promising a battery life of up 25 hours. That’s over double the standard battery life of today’s smartphones.
All in all?
Not a bad phone in terms of functionality—but this is an all work and (almost) no play proposition. BlackBerry has no qualms about admitting that. But for that purpose alone, this is going to be a strong contender. If you do end up with one in your hands, it’s likely because you need an extra device that can survive the long grueling hours of work, especially if you travel a lot for it.