BlackBerry's low-cost QWERTY smartphone reaches its home market of Canada on August 13.
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BlackBerry said Tuesday that its entry-level smartphone, the Q5, will be available to consumers in Canada beginning August 13. The Q5 is a replacement for BlackBerry's Curve line, which was highly popular with first-time smartphone buyers several years ago.
The Q5 is a step down from the Q10, BlackBerry's high-end QWERTY device, though it shares a number of features. For example, the Q5 has a 3.1-inch touch screen with 720 by 720 pixels and it is powered by a 1.2-GHz dual-core processor with 2 GB of RAM. It has the same basic shape as the Q10, though the keyboard is smaller and not quite as sturdy, and the materials that form the outer shell aren't as classy. BlackBerry calls the Q5's design "youthful." It is a smaller, lighter smartphone than the Q10.
The Q5 boasts a 5-megapixel main camera that can also shoot 1080p HD video, and a 2-megapixel user-facing camera for selfies and BlackBerry Messenger video chats. The phone has 8 GB of storage built in, and it supports microSD cards up to 64 GB for added storage. The smartphone supports various LTE 4G networks in Canada and includes NFC for tap-and-go pairing with other NFC devices.
The Q5 ships with BlackBerry OS 10.1 on board. This version of BBOS carries over the features from BBOS 10.0, but adds a few extras, such as support for Skype. Other features remain the same, such as BlackBerry Hub for controlling messages, Time Shift and Story Maker for creative photography projects, and of course BlackBerry Messenger.
The Q5 has already launched in several other markets around the world, including India, and will be available from wireless network operators Bell, Fido, Koodo, Sasktel, Telus and Virgin Mobile. It will also be sold at retail stores, such as Best Buy Canada and Target. The cost of the device will vary based on which carrier sells it.
The Q5 is the third BB10 device to reach the market this year, after the Q10 and Z10. BlackBerry sorely needs the Q5 to pick up the slack and recapture the few first-time smartphone buyers still left. The Q10 and Z10 did not win back many former BlackBerry loyalists, who have stuck with their iPhones and Galaxy S smartphones. BlackBerry sold just 2.7 million Z10s and Q10s during its most recent quarter, which puts it well below sales of Microsoft's Windows Phone platform for the same period.
BlackBerry has not yet announced plans to sell the Q5 in the U.S., but it is expected to be available from AT&T (and possibly others) in the coming months.
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