BlackBerry is going all-in on Android, and perhaps with more devices than we thought. BlackBerry is currently working on three new Android phones, according to Evan Blass, a journalist with an excellent track record for phone leaks.
The three new phones are code named Neon, Argon and Mercury, according to Blass’ source, and we will reportedly see one of the phones each quarter.
The Neon will reportedly be a low to mid-range, aluminum-housed phone with a 5.2-inch 1080p-resolution screen, 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and no physical keyboard, and arrive by the end of August for free on contract.
This October, the Argon will allegedly be a high-end phone with a 5.5-inch QHD-resolution screen, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 CPU, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a fingerprint reader, a 21-megapixel camera, a USB-C charging port — and also no physical keyboard.
In the first quarter of 2017, the Mercury will allegedly be the only new BlackBerry device with a physical keyboard, one that lives at the bottom of a more squared-off screen like many previous BlackBerrys. It also sounds like a mid-range phone, with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, though it also may house a relatively large 3400mAh battery.
In January, BlackBerry’s CEO confirmed plans to produce up to two Android phones. Now, it appears there are three — and at least two of them sound like they’ll target lower price points than the company’s first Android phone, the BlackBerry Priv, which had disappointingly low sales.
The US Senate also recently stopped issuing BlackBerry phones to its staffers.
BlackBerry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The BlackBerry Priv is really struggling,” a “high-level executive” told Cnet. “We’ve seen more returns than we would like.”
And reasons revolve around BlackBerry customers struggling to switch from BlackBerry OS to Android — but that’s not the only problem. BlackBerry marketed the phone as a high-end device, and even priced the Priv higher than the iPhone 6S at $700.
“There isn’t much volume growth in the premium segment, where Apple and Samsung dominate,” the executive reportedly said.
But we knew that already — BlackBerry CEO John Chen admitted it himself when he said the Priv was “too high-end a product.”
“The fact that we came out with a high end phone [as our first Android device] was probably not as wise as it should have been,” Chen said.
Two rumored midrange Android products are reportedly in the works, and they could be BlackBerry’s last chance at reviving its mobile division. But if people are clamoring for smartphones running BlackBerry 10, it’s unclear if Android phones will generate any profit. Chen said the company has no plans to release a handset running the BB10 operating system.
And it’s no joke that the Priv and the two rumored Android smartphones are BlackBerry’s last hope — Chen said in October that the company would “think twice” about staying in the smartphone business if it cannot generate a profit in 2016.
Analysts expected the company to sell at least 850,000 devices in the first quarter of 2016, but BlackBerry fell short of expectations by only selling 600,000 handsets, the company reported in April.
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