AT&T has announced that it will begin offering the QWERTY-equipped BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic. The Passport will cost $199.99 and the Classic has been priced at $49.99 with a new 2-year contract. They go on sale Feb. 20.
BlackBerry has had a rough couple of years in the smartphone arena. It was the market leader when Apple entered the game in 2007 with the first-generation iPhone and it quickly watched its market share get chipped away as Android and iOS grew in popularity. In an effort to recapture its former glory, BlackBerry gave its mobile OS a reboot with BlackBerry 10 and released the Z10 and Q10 smartphones in January 2013. Sales of the devices were extremely low and in August 2013, BlackBerry announced its intentions to sell the company and exit the consumer market.
In November 2013, BlackBerry replaced its CEO and under new leadership by John Chen, announced that it was committed to reclaiming its success and would refocus and release new smartphones with its iconic QWERTY keyboard intact. The company launched the BlackBerry Passport and Classic late last year and AT&T has become the first U.S. carrier to once again take a gamble on the former smartphone king.
AT&T will offer customers two options, the BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic. Both handsets include the physical QWERTY keyboard the company is known for, while the Passport has a 4.5-inch full HD square touch screen and a touch-enabled QWERTY keyboard. A new partnership with Amazon brings support to download and install Android applications via the preinstalled Amazon Appstore application.
"The BlackBerry Passport is ideal for the mobile professional who wants an innovative wireless device focused on security and productivity. Available first in the U.S. on the AT&T network, customers will benefit from the uniquely designed Passport's enhanced features, including a wider screen, 32 GB of storage, and a 3450 mAh battery." said Jeff Bradley, senior vice president of device marketing and developer services at AT&T.
"The BlackBerry Classic is an excellent addition to AT&T's leading line-up of smartphones," Bradley continued. "AT&T customers will be thrilled with the Classic. It blends the best of familiar features, such as BlackBerry's QWERTY keyboard with enhanced capabilities including BlackBerry Blend and Assistant." BlackBerry Assistant is a digital assistant similar to Siri and Cortana, while Blend is software that syncs with a PC or tablet so you can handle incoming calls and answer texts if your phone is nearby.
AT&T has priced the BlackBerry Passport at $199.99 and the Classic at $49.99 when signing a new 2-year contract. Customers will be able to purchase both smartphones beginning on Feb. 20. Check out the videos below to watch highlights of both smartphones.