BlackBerry has taken its first step into the phablet market, adding a device with a 5-inch display to its portfolio of smartphones.
Slightly larger than Samsung’s Galaxy S4, the BlackBerry Z30 will be the first device to run BlackBerry 10.2, the latest version of the company’s operating system, which is expected to be rolled out to the rest of the BlackBerry 10 range of smartphones from mid-October.
To power the larger screen, the device packs a 1.7 GHz processor with quad-core graphics, a slight improvement on the Z10’s dual-core 1.5 GHz offering.
Other improvements include the biggest battery in any BlackBerry device, which the company predicts will give up to 25 hours of use, although the actual time is likely to be lower.
A new feature in BlackBerry 10.2 is the Priority Hub which manages all conversations across email, social networks and other accounts, displaying important ones most prominently in a similar way to Gmail’s priority inbox.
Producing a phablet may appear a strange decision for the struggling company - the Wall Street Journal reported last month that sales of the keyboard-equipped Q10 had “fallen flat”, and BlackBerry has in the past given away its Playbook tablets to developers who submitted an app to its store.
But Carlo Chiarello, executive vice president for products at BlackBerry, insists that the Z30 has its place in the range.
“The smartphone rounds out the BlackBerry 10 portfolio and is designed for people looking for a smartphone that excels at communications, messaging and productivity,” he said.
“Having apps like the full Documents To Go suite that comes pre-installed, together with its 5-inch touch display, the BlackBerry Z30 smartphone gives you a best in class productivity experience on the go.”
The Z10 is the fourth addition to the BlackBerry 10 line of devices, which have been called a last-chance attempt to gain traction over rival manufacturers such as Samsung and Apple.
Just 2.7 percent of phones sold between April and June this year ran a BlackBerry operating system according to analysts Gartner. By comparison, 79 percent were Android phones and 14.2 percent ran Apple’s iOS operating system.
BlackBerry, previously called Research in Motion, did not announce any pricing details, but said the device will be available in the UK from next week.