BlackBerry’s future, especially in the hardware biz, is uncertain, but it did take the wraps off a new handset today (via MobileSyrup). The Z3 “Jakarta” edition is unique to the Indonesian market at launch, but it’s also BlackBerry’s first phone co-created with Foxconn, one of the largest Asian manufacturers of electronic devices.
The $200 device is decidedly entry-level on the specs page, but that’s BlackBerry’s goal; make something with a touchscreen that competes with low-cost Android devices for a market where it has already ceded a lot of ground to cheap hardware running Google’s mobile OS. BlackBerry used to count Indonesia as one of its most important international strongholds, and the Jakarta is an attempt to renew the siege to get it back.
Some launch edition devices have the word “Jakarta” inscribed on the back to commemorate the launch, but the internals of both this special edition and the standard Z3 will remain the same. Those specs were also announced today, and they include a 5-inch touchscreen with 540×960 resolution (no Retina display here), BlackBerry OS 10.2.1, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor with 1.5GB of RAM, a 5MP rear camera (with 1080p video recording) and a 1.1MP front-facing shooter. It also has a 2,500mAh non-removable battery, which is a departure from previous BlackBerry hardware.
This sounds like exactly the type of thing you’d expect from a budget-friendly Android device, save for the presence of BlackBerry’s proprietary mobile OS. It goes on sale on May 15 in Indonesia, and while there are no current official plans around international availability, BlackBerry CEO John Chen has previously said it would make its way out to the rest of the world eventually.
BlackBerry has high hopes resting on this device, at least in terms of its future as a hardware company. Partnering with Foxconn means it likely defrayed some of the risk of approaching this market with something very different from its low-cost hardware keyboard handsets of old, but the Z3 will probably still have a big say in whether or not BlackBerry is long for the smartphone business.