BlackBerry Leap: Will this touchscreen smartphone jump onto your wishlist?

No Qwerty required - BlackBerry's latest smartphone is a touchscreen only device aimed at young execs.

BlackBerry's new touchscreen device, the BlackBerry Leap Image: BlackBerry

BlackBerry's latest handset, an affordable touchscreen smartphone aimed at young execs, has gone on sale in the UK.

Unlike the company's last two handsets - the Passport and the Classic - which feature physical Qwerty keyboards, the Leap is a touchscreen-only device. And whereas the Passport and the Classic are aimed at that niche audience of managers who still prefer pecking away on a hard keyboard, BlackBerry is aiming the Leap at the mass market of "young power professionals who want to get things done".

The Leap retails at £199 in the UK (in contrast, the Classic retails at £349, the Passport at £559) and BlackBerry is emphasising its security and productivity credentials in a bid to attract companies looking to roll-out large numbers of devices to junior staff.

The Leap comes with 16GB onboard storage, and microSD card support up to 128GB. The five-inch screen has a 1280 x 720 HD resolution at 294 pixels per inch and the handset also features an eight-megapixel rear camera and a two-megapixel front camera.

It runs the BlackBerry 10.3.1 operating system and the company said the 2800 mAh battery will provide up to 25 hours of heavy use. Users can download business and productivity apps from the BlackBerry World app store and games and other apps from the Amazon Appstore.

BlackBerry said that over the next few weeks the Leap will also go on sale in Germany, France, the US, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and India.

BlackBerry was once the smartphone leader (see the gallery of BlackBerry handsets through time below), and while consumers have mostly switched to Android and iOS, a number of large companies and governments remain enthusiasts largely because of the security offered by the devices.

As such, while the Leap may be an interesting option for existing customers who want to roll-out touchscreen devices to junior employees, it's unlikely to make much impact on the the mass market. Meanwhile BlackBerry is gradually reinventing itself, trying to grow its higher margin software and services business.

BlackBerry Leap specs

  • Dimensions: 144mm x 72.8mm x 9.5mm
  • Weight: 170g
  • Dedicated keys: Volume up/down, mute, lock (for power on/off)
  • Display: five-inch screen, 16:9 aspect ratio,1280 x 720 resolution at 294 ppi
  • Operating system: BlackBerry 10 OS
  • Processor: Qualcomm MSM 8960 1.5 GHz
  • Memory: 2GB RAM, 16GB Flash, expandable memory via hot swappable microSD memory card up to 128GB
  • Battery: 2800 mAh (minimum) non-removable Lithium Ion battery (Up to 25 hours mixed use/12 hours GSM talk time/15 days GSM standby time/17 hours UMTS talk time/16.5 days UMTS standby time/80 hours audio playback/9.5 hours video playback)
  • Camera: eight-megapixel rear camera, two-megapixel fixed-focus front camera
  • Connectivity: Wi-fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz, 4G Mobile Hotspot, Video out via wi-fi display / Miracast, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (LE) and EDR
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, proximity, ambient light

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