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BlackBerry To Resurrect Trackpad, Hard Buttons

Barcelona, Spain — BlackBerry bowed to tradition, saying it plans a second half launch of a BlackBerry 10 OS smartphone with the traditional hard buttons and trackpad of pre-BlackBerry 10 OS phones.

The BlackBerry Q20 will feature the “familiar and classic” menu, back, send and end buttons and the integrated trackpad “to enable the fast efficient navigation and one-handed use that has endeared the brand to its QWERTY customers,” the company said. “The new BlackBerry Q20 smartphone will give customers the familiar workflow, efficiency and one-handed use that distinguish the BlackBerry QWERTY smartphone experience.” It will also feature a 3.5-inch touchscreen, which will be the largest display on any QWERTY-equipped BlackBerry smartphone, the company said. The current keyboard-equipped Q10 has a 3.1-inch touchscreen.

Details on pricing and availability will be announced at launch.

The features were demanded by BlackBerry QWERTY loyalists and high-productivity business customer, said John Chen, executive chairman/CEO. “In my first 90 days on the job, I consistently heard from our ardent BlackBerry customers that the hard buttons and trackpad are an essential part of the BlackBerry QWERTY experience that made their BlackBerry smartphone their go-to productivity tool,” said Chen.

The phone will make the hard buttons and trackpad “an integral part of the device and user interface, enabling fast, precise navigation and a natural workflow within and between apps,” the company added. The QWERTY keyboard will feature the company’s patented frets and sculpted keys.

Separately, the company announced its first smartphone made by contract manufacturer Foxconn as part of BlackBerry’s effort to become leaner and profitable and offer more affordable handsets. The all-touch BlackBerry Z3 will be available in the Indonesian market with BlackBerry 10 OS and customized local content and apps. The partnership was announced in December.

“The BlackBerry Z3 embodies all that BlackBerry 10 offers, with its exceptional productivity features and reliable communications, in a stylish, all-touch design made affordable for customers in Indonesia,” said Chen.