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Despite reports of lackluster sales for its first Android smartphone, BlackBerry is tripling down on the platform in the coming year. According to a person briefed on the company’s plans, the Canadian manufacturer will be releasing one phone per quarter for the next three quarters.
Codenamed Neon, Argon, and Mercury, the trio will target a range of form factors and price points, according to the briefed individual.
Chronologically, the first of these to market is said to be Neon, a low- to mid-range 5.2-inch full touchscreen (i.e. no physical keyboard) handset with 1080p resolution. Composed of an aluminum frame with soft-coated plastic back, Neon is powered by a Snapdragon 617 system-on-a-chip from Qualcomm, the source said.
The phone is said to contain 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a 2610mAh battery, supporting QuickCharge 2.0. Its cameras should include a 13-megapixel rear shooter and 8-megapixel, front-facing selfie cam.
Aimed at both enterprise and consumer markets, according to our source, Neon should be competitively priced — and free on contract — when it goes on sale in the July to August timeframe.
The most generously-spec’ed of the devices, Argon, is the next scheduled release, according to the briefed individual, landing sometime in October. Also a full touchscreen, the 5.5-inch Argon allegedly offers a QHD resolution — the same as Priv, BlackBerry’s first Android phone. It’ll be marketed to the enterprise, along with enthusiast consumers.
Under the hood, the source says, are Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage, along with a 3000mAh battery, supported by QuickCharge 3.0. Other notable features should include a fingerprint reader and USB type C connector.
With even more primary camera pixels than Priv’s 18-megapixel sensor, Argon has a 21-megapixel shooter at the rear, along with an 8-megapixel selfie cam on its face.
Stretching the roadmap into Q1 2017, Mercury is the only one of these handsets to sport a physical QWERTY keyboard, as Priv does. But unlike Priv, which is a vertical slider, Mercury’s board is not concealable — think BlackBerry Passport.
It’s got a 4.5-inch screen with full HD resolution in a squarish 3:2 aspect ratio, with the entire enclosure made of aluminum. Internally, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 sits at the heart of the device, alongside 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage capacity.
Its battery apparently weighs in at 3400mAh, while its rear- and front-facing cameras offer 18-megapixel and 8-megapixel resolutions, respectively.
As with Priv, there’s a lot riding on these phones, namely BlackBerry’s continued existence as a hardware manufacturer. Some industry observers have attributed Priv’s lack of success to the premium price point at which it entered the market. With this trio of upcoming, more modestly priced Androids, BlackBerry should discover once and for all whether there is sufficient interest to continue developing its security-enhanced mobile devices.
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