BlackBerry's next handset isn't pretty, and has a crazy keyboard

Industry analysts IDC predicted last week that BlackBerry's global share of the smartphone market will sink to a paltry 0.8% by the end of this year, suggesting that it will collapse even further to just 0.3% by 2018. Little wonder, then, that BlackBerry's CEO John Chen acknowledged that the company has "a lot of problems", but added that it is "not dead" yet.

It suffered a loss of $423 million last quarter, reporting worldwide sales of just 1.1 million handsets based on its latest BlackBerry 10 operating system. But it isn't giving up the battle, whatever the naysayers might think, and it will no doubt be hoping that one upcoming device in particular manages to convince smartphone buyers that it is worth another look. 

That device, codenamed 'Windermere', has been outed by N4BB.com, and at first glance, you may be wondering if BlackBerry has finally lost the plot. But despite looks that only a mother could love, there is something very interesting about this handset - something that traditional BlackBerry buyers may well find irresistible. 

For years, BlackBerry devices were famous for their excellent keyboards, and the company looks set to return to those roots to build on that reputation with this latest device. But this is no ordinary keyboard. According to N4BB, the physical keys incorporate capacitive touch support, so you can type on them like a normal hardware keyboard, but you can also move your fingers over them like a trackpad. 

When in the web browser, you can swipe up and down on the keys to scroll through web pages; when typing an email or document, swiping across the keyboard from right to left allows you to delete words. The concept seems to be based on the idea that you won't have to move your fingers around the keyboard too much, or move your hands away from it to touch the screen more than you need to, allowing you to complete tasks that little bit more quickly. 

Whether or not this keyboard will live up to its intriguing premise remains to be seen, but Windermere - which could be called the Q30 at launch - will also be quite a powerful little device. It will reportedly feature a quad-core Snapdragon 800 chipset, 3GB of RAM and an unusual 4-inch square LCD screen, featuring 1440x1440px resolution. It is also said to include a 13MP rear camera, with a 2MP cam up front, along with a 3450mAh battery. 

According to BGR, Windermere has come close to being canceled more than once, but this latest report suggests that it will in fact be launched, which seems to gel with another report last month hinting that it will go on sale later this year. But while there are still a few things that we don't yet know about the device - including whether or not its intriguing keyboard is actually good to use - one big question remains: if and when it finally arrives, will anyone actually buy it? 

Source: N4BB via BGR | images via N4BB 

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It's time to play Sega and get out of the hardware and focus on software and services. They don't then it will go under. Microsoft should buy them for the patients.

While I'd never consider a Blackberry, I appreciate that theyre at least trying to make a phone that looks a bit different.

... Then again. I'm not sure if they should be making weird new designs with their dwindling business.

Thumbs up for trying something different. The BlackBerry keyboard is still the best and I still miss it years after jumping ship.

There's little point trying to create a generic slab phone as it's entirely dependant on software, and they know they can't keep up with the big names. The keyboard is the selling point.

I don't think it'll work, but I can see where they're trying to go with it.

I was a fan of a physical keyboard, I thought Palm did it best. I often have to type emails on my phone, a swype style keyboard is the best way to do this.

I'm not sure how this concept adds value when there is a full blown touchscreen right above the keyboard for all your swiping needs.

The super thin keyboard seems like a good idea as it provides additional room for the touch screen. However this device fails to use that and instead becomes a rather squared device. You have to give credits to BB for thinking outside of the box. But I doubt this will be the next popular design.

no they are not. probably more than 95% of their costomers are in corporate environments. and I can see why they want to stick with their signature design (keyboard) while making something new. but I agree this is one ugly badly designed phone

I use a Blackberry Q5 as my personal phone and I absolutely love it. I've always been partial to physical keyboards, but this one just doesn't make sense.

Someone else stated that they should stick with the Q10 design, but make the screen bigger. That's my exact thoughts as well. Go back to what you were good at. Snap gives a user the ability to use the Android market, so BUILD on that. Stop trying to create something no one will purchase.

Looks like something from the 90's. The only good thing is its screen, but can you imagine having to hold that in one hand? I thought the Galaxy Note was hard :)

Now THIS is a phone!

Of course most people will poo-poo it in favor of what ever generic toy phone they play around with.

why didn't they just make a phone with 2 screens.

one a touch screen,and on the back a smaller lower resolution screen with a keyboard.

would look daft I know but better looking that that thing.

Why don't they just leave the design of the Q10 intact, and just make the screen bigger?
Odd choice here if this turns out to be true...

This device looks like a prototype/concept, not a finished product. It's extremely bland looking, with a basic and somewhat awkward layout.

I'm not a fan of Blackberry devices myself, but in my opinion their OS looks extremely dated and is holding them back with it's lack luster apps.

I have to agree, the layout is... odd. They should have left the keyboard/design of the Q10 and just made the screen bigger.
But BB10 is great IMO; I will not go back to using iOS or Android as long as it is around. Yes, the apps selection is quite limited and leaves much to be desired, but since 10.2* OS release you can sideload Android apps. I've found the few I've tested to work without any issues.

Great to see someone disagree with a point without resorting to rudness :) The sideloading of Android Apps is interesting i shall look into that!

DOA, no one is going to buy a BB as a consumer and enterprises are running away from BB cause they don't want to be stuck with an unsupported platform.

swanlee said,
DOA, no one is going to buy a BB as a consumer and enterprises are running away from BB cause they don't want to be stuck with an unsupported platform.

What about corporations/customers that still use XP?

Brilliant!! Provided you never have to use those things called numbers. Or punctuation. Or upper/lower case. Or the @ symbol etc.

BB should have done like Samsung and take Android with a custom UI 'experience' that looks and feels like BB of old but with support for the Play Store. They just didn't have the ability to take on iOS and Android. The only reason Microsoft can is because they have so much money coming in from elsewhere. BB didn't and doesn't have that luxury. To be honest I am quite surprised they are still around today. I have not need a BB, other than diehards who refuse to upgrade their 3+ year old model, in the real world for a long time now.

more than 90% of blackberry users are corporate users. there is no way they will adapt android instead of blackberry. android is cool for consumers but a nightmare for business and corporates

Is this the part where we finally take them Blackberry behind the house and calmly say "Just look at the flowers Berry, just look at the flowers"

I really don't understand how companies design horrible things. Do they truly like that design? Why? Is it only to try and make money? Does it create a good experience? Do You want this over the iPhone? If you answered yes to the last question you need to be fired.

George P said,
I guess BB just entered the phase of "lets try anything and see if something sticks". That thing is just silly.

Similar to Microsofts philosophy of "lets keep throwing money at it until it sticks"

Sonne said,

Similar to Microsofts philosophy of "lets keep throwing money at it until it sticks"

At least none of their hardware ever looked that bad.

Hahaiah said,
Don't worry, pretty soon they can call all their customers personally to see what they want.

HAHAHA!

It is a very strange design though. Seems like it would be incredibly awkward.