BlackBerry unwraps the $190 midrange Z3 Jakarta Edition

Can BlackBerry win back lost customers with its Foxconn-built Z3?
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

BlackBerry has unveiled its low-cost all-touch device, the Z3. The handset, which will be released exclusively in Indonesia, marks its best effort yet to win back its once-loyal fanbase in the country.

The five-inch smartphone will go on sale from 15 May for 2,199,000 Indonesian rupee ($190) via local partners including Erafone and Indosat.

It's one of the first smartphones to be launched under current CEO John Chen and an early product of BlackBerry's manufacturing partnership with Foxconn, announced late last year.

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Image: BlackBerry

At less than $200, the new device fills a significant gap in the company's smartphone line-up in Indonesia, where BlackBerry has historically enjoyed a loyal following that were not catered to by the higher-priced Z10, Q10, and Q5 devices.

"Priced affordably, the BlackBerry Z3, Jakarta Edition will extend the full capabilities of the BlackBerry 10 Operating System version 10.2.1 experience for a new generation of customers in Indonesia," Chen said.

According to analyst firm IDC, BlackBerry's historical focus on high-end devices has harmed its market share in Indonesia, which fell from 36 percent in 2012 to 14 percent in 2013.

And while the launch of BBM on Android may have opened up potential for the company beyond device sales, Android vendors angling for the sub-$200 market — such as Motorola and Nokia with its X devices — have used BBM’s popularity to lure BlackBerry fans across to their platforms.

Despite the low price, the BB10 OS Z3 still has reasonable specs, including a five-megapixel rear-facing camera and 1.1-megapixel front camera, 8GB of storage, a MicroSD slot, 1080p HD video recording, and a 540x960 pixel display. The Z3's application processor is a dual-core 1.2 GHz Qualcomm MSM8230, and the device is slated to give 15.5 hours talk-time from its 2,500 mAH battery.

The dimensions of the device 140mm by 72.8mm, with 9.26m thickness — almost identical to BlackBerry's recently launched high-end Z30 all-touch smartphone, though with squared Xperia-like edges rather than Z30's curved frame.

The Z3 Jakarta Edition, with Jakarta inscribed on the back, has been launched exclusively for the Indonesian market. However, BlackBerry has indicated the device will also go on sale in India in future, where the company's shipments have also taken a major hit in the past two years.

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