BlackBerry today unveiled its first Android-powered handset ‘Priv’ in India for Rs 62,990, as it attempts to make a comeback in the highly-competitive domestic smartphone market.
First unveiled in October, Priv combines BlackBerry’s productivity, security and privacy features with Google’s app store. The smartphone went on sale in the US in November for USD 699 (about Rs 47,000).
“This is not just another Android phone. Priv is BlackBerry’s flagship offering. It combines our heritage features like productivity and security with the openness of Android platform and adds QWERTY as well. We are confident of the device doing well among power users,” BlackBerry India MD U Narendra Nayak told reporters here.
BlackBerry’s shift to Android is being seen as a move aimed at helping the ailing company to return to popularity. Once an iconic business phone, BlackBerry lost out to Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS-based smartphones.
By bringing out an Android-powered device, BlackBerry will be able to cash-in on the app-rich ecosystem of Google’s OS, the lack of which has been an area of complaints for many BlackBerry users in the past.
Asked if the steep pricing could be a deterrent, Nayak answered in the negative.
“Looking at the hardware, software and security, the pricing is justified. It stands out with its set of features in the price range where we have launched. There are few competitors in that range,” he said.
The company plans to launch more devices based on Google’s Android operating system later this year.
However, it said it remains committed to its proprietary BlackBerry 10 operating system and will continue to release platform updates focused on security and privacy enhancements.
Priv comes with a 5.4-inch display and is powered with a 1.8 GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal memory (expandable by up to 2TB). The single SIM 4G phone runs Android Lollipop OS and sports 18MP rear and 2MP front camera with 3,410 mAh battery.
The exclusive DTEK by BlackBerry app helps monitor and reports when the application accesses the microphone, camera, location and personal information. This enables users to be confident that their personal data is being kept private.
Nayak said the company is focussing on engaging more with consumers.
“Be it through advertisements or places where customers can touch and feel the product, we will focus on talking more to the customers,” he said adding that the uptake of the device would be faster among consumers than enterprises.