​BlackBerry unveils all-touch five-inch Leap

BlackBerry has taken the wraps off its new five-inch Leap, an all touch and affordable smartphone for young professionals.

The five-inch BlackBerry Leap. Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

BlackBerry has unveiled a new mid-range five-inch smartphone, the Leap. Unlike its two most recent handset releases, it's an all-touch device.

Following leaked images that revealed many details of the Leap, BlackBerry has officially taken the wraps off its new "affordable" BlackBerry OS 10 touch smartphone, a device that looks similar to last year's BlackBerry Z3 but with slightly improved specs.

The Leap comes with a five-inch HD display at 1280 x 720 pixel resolution (294 pixels per inch), while offering an eight-megapixel rear camera and two-megapixel front camera. The camera specs are fairly low for a mid-range device, but mark an improvement on the Z3's five-megapixel and 1.1-megapixel camera pairing.

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Memory and storage specs for the Leap include 2GB of RAM, 16GB internal of storage, and a microSD card that supports up to 128GB. The Leap is powered by Qualcomm's MSM 8960 (aka Snapdragon S4) 1.5GHz processor, and packs a 2800mAh non-removable battery. The device also supports 4G LTE.

With middle-of-the road specs, BlackBerry is targeting the device at upwardly mobile professionals who value the company's security credentials.

"BlackBerry Leap was built specifically for mobile professionals who see their smartphone device as a powerful and durable productivity tool that also safeguards sensitive communications at all times," Ron Louks, BlackBerry's president of devices and emerging solutions, said.

BlackBerry unveiled the new device at this week's Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Spain, the same event it used to launch the Z3 last year. The company hasn't released pricing and availability details for the Leap yet.

The release comes on the heels of the BlackBerry OS 10.3.1 update that brought the Amazon Appstore to all BlackBerry OS 10 devices. This gives BlackBerry users access to over 200,000 more apps than were available through BlackBerry's own app store, BlackBerry World. The Amazon App Store had originally been made available only to the Qwerty keyboard BlackBerry Passport. The Leap will ship with BlackBerry OS 10.3.1.

The Leap's software features include the BlackBerry Keyboard, the BlackBerry Blend tool to bring messaging and content from the Leap to the user's computer or tablet, and BlackBerry Assistant, BlackBerry's answer to Siri.

BlackBerry's recent hardware releases - such as BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic - have taken the company back to its roots as a maker of high-quality Qwerty keyboard devices. The Classic, in particular, reintroduced classic navigation keys, which included a phonecall key, menu key, trackpad, back button, and an end call key. These were missing from devices like the Q5 and Q10.

At MWC, BlackBerry also revealed the Classic would be available in blue, bronze, and white, and showed off a new BlackBerry device with a slider keyboard.

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