A day after Nokia launched its affordable Android devices, BlackBerry said that it will bring its new sub-$200 (below ₹12,000) smartphone phone, called Z3, to India. The phone, designed primarily with Indonesian customers in mind, may just be the device which Blackberry needs to revive its fortunes in India.

Responding to a question by Business Line, BlackBerry’s Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen said, “It will be attractive to go to India with the under $200 phone. At least, we will be competitive. I know you can buy Android phones at less than $75 but given the features and security packed into our phone we can be competitive below $200.”

This comes even as BlackBerry has dropped price for its top end smartphone, Z10, running on the latest BlackBerry 10 operating system to ₹17,990 under a special offer. This is more than 50 per cent lower than the price at which the device was launched a year ago.

When asked if Blackberry had got the pricing wrong for India, Chen said, “I really could not comment on pricing a year ago because I was not here. It is hard for me to second guess the reason for the pricing. In the last 90 days, my teams have been working hard to rationalise in all regions, including India. You have seen us make some changes. It surprises me that for some reason pricing changes takes six months to implement.”

BlackBerry Z3 is a touch smartphone featuring a 5-inch display and comes with BlackBerry 10 OS version 10.2.1. The phone will be launched in April in Indonesia first and then will be rolled out to other markets in Asia.

The company is also launching a mid-end QWERTY smartphone (with a keypad) called the Q20 that merges the power of BlackBerry 10 with the classic BlackBerry design and experience, realised with hard buttons as well as an integrated trackpad and a 3.5-inch touchscreen.

Key features include:

BlackBerry Hub – The BlackBerry Hub lets you access all your work and personal email, BBM™, text messages, social media updates and notifications in one place, with the ability to “peek” into the BlackBerry Hub from anywhere, so you’re always only one swipe away from what matters to you. The Hub can be customised to identify priority messages and to filter the message list by various criteria that you can then activate with a simple pinch gesture.

BBM – BBM on the BlackBerry Z3 smartphone includes all the latest features of the popular mobile social network, customised for Indonesians. You get BBM voice and video chatting with Screen Share and support for BlackBerry Natural Sound, letting you hear nuances and variations in tone in a BBM Voice chat, and making the conversation sound like you’re in the same room. BBM Channels features a variety of Indonesian channels as well as a package of BBM stickers that have been specially designed by an Indonesian artist.

BlackBerry Keyboard – The BlackBerry Keyboard learns what words you use and how you use them, then offers them up to you so you can type faster and more accurately. It gives you the best Bahasa Indonesia typing experience on a touchscreen, complete with multi-language support that lets you type in up to 3 different languages at the same time.

Time Shift & Story Maker – The BlackBerry Z3 smartphone’s Time Shift camera feature lets you capture a group shot where everyone is smiling with their eyes wide open. You can also use Story Maker to bring a collection of photos and videos together, along with music and effects, to produce an HD movie that you can instantly share on YouTube.

BlackBerry 10 Browser – The BlackBerry 10 browser sets the industry benchmark for HTML5 performance on smartphones, and is incredibly fast, with fluid and responsive scrolling and zooming. The browser includes many advanced features, supports multiple tabs, lets you browse sites privately, includes a reader mode, and integrates with the platform for easily sharing content. You can even save web pages for later viewing.

Instant Previews & Reply Now – Be more timely and responsive with Instant Previews that bring BBM, SMS and email message to you no matter what you are doing on your BlackBerry Z3 smartphone. You can even reply to your BBM or SMS messages in any app, or swipe to the BlackBerry Hub to respond. If you get a phone call that you can’t answer right way, you can instantly silence the call and send a Reply Now response through BBM, SMS or email to let the caller know you’re busy.

Fast, Easy Sharing – The BlackBerry Z3 smartphone learns how you share and who you share with, helping you reduce the number of steps and amount of time it takes to get your files, photos, or documents to where they need to go. Touching “share” in any app provides suggestions on who and how to share your files based on who you’ve shared with in the past, and the feature only gets smarter the more you use it.

FM Radio – The new BlackBerry Z3 includes a built-in FM radio. You can listen to local FM stations, which does not require any network connection.

Exact pricing will be announced closer to the launch.

(This article was published on February 25, 2014)
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