In the mobile world industry, BlackBerry has long been recognized for manufacturing full QWERTY smartphones. And for anyone who’s been an avid BlackBerry fan, this trademark of theirs is what makes them stand out from the rest of their competition. For 2015, BlackBerry has decided to take a risk and produce an all-touch display to attract the users who are fond of using a device they can easily use with their fingers. The BlackBerry Leap is precisely that—a unique BlackBerry model with a 5-inch display that you can use to type letters on and swipe from left to right instead of using a trackpad. Powering the device is a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 processor next to 2GB of RAM and Adreno 225 GPU. The phone has a native memory of 16GB, which may be expanded by up to 128GB with the use of a microSD card. It also runs on the latest BlackBerry 10 software, which means it is up to date with the best apps and games that can be downloaded on the device. To take pictures, the BlackBerry Leap is equipped with an 8MP rear-facing camera with HD video recording capability and LED flash. A secondary front-facing camera with 2MP sensor is also available. With its 2800 mAh non-removable battery, the Leap is able to last up to 25 hours of talk time.
Blackberry continues to try to move away from its rocky past while remaining firmly rooted in tradition through its latest offering, the Blackberry Leap. The Leap is designed to be a hip and affordable phone primarily geared towards a younger and more professional business audience. The Leap remains an impressive, if somewhat familiar, offering in Blackberry’s lineup.
Yesterday’s Processor Coupled With Today’s Style
On the surface, it appears to be largely similar to Blackberry’s previous offering, the Z10. The same innards power both phones as the Leap comes with the dual-core 1.5Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 processor and 2GB of RAM that Z10 owners have had for years. It manages to do the job well enough, but it’s still slightly disappointing that Blackberry didn’t bother with an upgrade. The Leap is meant to be a more budget-minded phone however, so not too much can be held against the processor. Especially when it does handle the job well enough thanks to its included Adreno 225 GPU. After all, this isn’t an intense gaming phone. Think of the Leap as more of the type of phone one would find in the pocket of a young Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
Despite what some might consider a meager processor, one has to admire just how stunning this supposedly budget phone looks. It easily manages to find that ultimate sweet spot of having just the right amount of thickness to be sturdy yet not feel like a brick phone from the late 1990s. At the same time, the phone is thin enough to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand without feeling as if it might shatter from the slightest touch. The Leap’s dimensions are 144 x 72.8 x 9.5 mm or 5.67 x 2.87 x 0.47 inches. Its exterior body has a nice, lightly dimpled texture that’s easy to grip and manages to feel comfortable when held for an extended period of time. The texture also manages to give the Blackberry Leap a bit of extra character to make it stand out amongst the crowded phone marketplace.
The Blackberry Leap also comes with an ample 16GB of internal storage along with a rather nice edge-to-edge 5-inch 720p display. The colors are crisp and clear, and the touchscreen manages to be perfectly responsive with smooth menu transitions throughout. Two cameras are on board the Leap, with an 8-megapixel camera for the rear and a 2-megapixel camera facing the front to let the younger crowd take as many Facebook and Instagram selfies as they can manage. Full 1080p HD video recording is also possible through the rear camera. Additional features include Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities, on-board 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi and a MicroSD card reader that can read up to 128 GB. The on-screen keyboard is also a breeze to use thanks to its accurate feel and response time. The keyboard comes with loaded with multi-language support, error corrections and customization options that Blackberry claims adapts to each user’s particular style of writing.
One particularly impressive hardware feature on the Blackberry Leap is the non-removable 2800-mAh battery. Blackberry promises that this whopping battery can power your phone through 25 hours of continuous use, more than a full day. The extended battery life is more than welcome, especially in a market full of phones that seem to beg for a long recharge every time you check your e-mail.
New Blackberry OS 10.3.1 And Impressive Security Offerings
In terms of software, the Leap will ship with the latest Blackberry OS 10.3.1 offerings. This means the new Blackberry Assistant and Blackberry Blend software comes preloaded with every Leap. The Blackberry Assistant is a solid enough virtual assistant that responds well to voice and text commands. Only time and use will tell if Blackberry has found the new Siri, but it’s a promising feature all the same. Blackberry Blend allows users to access phone content such as e-mail, text messages, contacts and media from any supported tablet or PC. It’s a nice cross-platform offering that’s supposed to work with Windows, Mac and Android operating systems. Also packaged with the Leap is a dual-front app store system that allows users to shop from either the Blackberry World storefront or the Amazon Appstore.
Another high note for the Leap is what Blackberry is touting as a new high standard for security. Cell phone users have had much to worry about lately in terms of security, especially with more and more cyber-attacks happening with an alarming frequency. Blackberry aims to help in this aspect by giving the new Leap support for encryption and malware protection built straight into the system. Back-up features come standard on the phone along with the ability to remotely wipe everything off the system. This feature could potentially come in handy on numerous occasions, particularly for those who are prone to store sensitive information on their phone.
The Final Word
The final verdict is that the Leap does what it sets out to do; it manages to be a more affordable option for those who would like a classier business phone choice. It complements the rest of the Blackberry portfolio by assuming a comfortable lower-mid-tier position below the Blackberry Classic and the Blackberry Passport. It’s not an incredibly thrilling or mind-blowing phone, but really, it isn’t supposed to be. The younger, business-orientated crowd will likely be drawn to its organizational and security features, not to mention the virtual Blackberry Assistant. The Leap also manages to have a standout style in today’s market, which is a huge plus for some people. Everything about the Blackberry Leap seems to be designed with productivity in mind and with that in mind; the Leap performs more than adequately.
As of right now, the Blackberry Leap is carrying a recommended sale price of $279 USD (around £180, CAD$348 or AU$360), though when it eventually hits the market, the phone will likely sell for much less. The Leap will launch in stores sometime in 2015, with some retailers already touting a late April release.
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