TORONTO – BlackBerry is hoping its new low-cost touch screen smartphone will win over Canadian consumers who aren’t willing to pay the hefty price of an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy device.
The Waterloo, Ont.-based smartphone maker launched the BlackBerry Leap in Canada Thursday, aimed at “young business professionals.”
The price may be attractive to those looking for an affordable smartphone option.
All Canadian carriers, including Rogers, Bell and Telus, will offer the device for free on a two-year contract. Buying the device outright with no contract will cost you $349.
BlackBerry Leap features a 5-inch HD display, 8-megapixel camera, 16GB of internal storage – which can be upgraded up to 128GB with a MicroSD card – and up to 25 hours of battery life on “heavy usage.”
In comparison, Apple’s iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch Retina HD display, 8-megapixel camera, up to 128GB of internal storage and up to 10 hours of battery life when surfing the web on 3G or LTE connections.
But, a 16GB iPhone 6 starts at $350 on a two-year contract or $839 unlocked.
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The Leap is the company’s first touchscreen phone since it launched the Z30 more than a year and a half ago.
Since then, BlackBerry has focused on releasing models with a keyboard, like the Passport and Classic, as they’ve proven to be more popular with the company’s business-centric customers.
BlackBerry has lost a large part of its consumer user base to competitors like Apple and Samsung, but has managed to hang on to some key enterprise users, including some U.S. government bodies.
And while the ailing smartphone maker is betting on budget-conscious consumers to be wooed by the Leap’s price tag, the company has continued to market the device to its core demographic of enterprise customers.
READ MORE: Can the Passport save BlackBerry?
“The BlackBerry Leap is an affordable all-touch smartphone in a modern and powerful design that is built for career builders and companies who value security and privacy when being productive,” said BlackBerry’s Jaime Leverton in a press release.
The new smartphone will give users access to many of BlackBerry’s business geared features, including BlackBerry Blend – a new feature that makes email, BlackBerry Messenger, text messages and other data from their BlackBerry smartphones accessible on other platforms like Apple’s Mac OS and Windows.
BlackBerry users now also have access to the Amazon Appstore, giving users access to thousands of Android apps not available in the BlackBerry World app store.
The BlackBerry Leap will be available at Canadian carriers and on BlackBerry’s website starting Thursday.
GALLERY: BlackBerry Leap
– With a file from The Canadian Press