BlackBerry launches mid-priced 9720 with QWERTY keypad for Rs 16,000; is it worth buying?

13 Sep, 2013

9720Struggling Canadian handset manufacturer BlackBerry (previously Research in Motion or RIM) has added yet another touch and type smartphone to its portfolio. The latest addition, called 9720 has been targeted at the mid-price range segment of the Indian smartphone market, and will be available for Rs 16,000 later this month. A successor to the popular Curve 9320, this one offers a touch-and-type user interface, although instead of the latest BB10 operating system, the smartphone runs on the outdated BB 7.1 OS. Here is a look at the specifications of the device.

This one sports a 2.8 inch HVGA capacitive touchscreen display (480×360 pixel resolution) with pixel density of 214 ppi and also features a QWERTY keyboard. The physical QWERTY keyboard comes with 35-keys, an optical trackpad and is backlit. The smartphone is powered by an 806 MHz Tavor MG1 processor and runs on the BlackBerry 7.1 OS. It has 512 MB of RAM and 512 MB of internal memory that can be further expanded up to 32 GB with a microSD card.

On the camera front, the device has a 5 megapixel Extended Depth of Field (EDOF) rear camera with Flash and 4X digital zoom, which can also record videos, but no front-facing camera. In terms of connectivity front, the device has Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi (with Wi-Fi hotspot), 3G, and also comes with a microSD slot and a microUSB port. It measures 114mm x 66.3mm x 12mm and weighs 120 gm.

The company has provided a 1,450 mAh battery and claims it will provide up to 7 hours of talk time and 18 days of standby time. While Near Field Communication (NFC) is missing, the device has BlackBerry's trademark LED indicator (notification options are user configurable), stereo FM radio with RDS and GPS (with A-GPS support). 9720 will be available in black, white, purple, blue and pure pink colours.

BlackBerry had first unveiled its next-generation flagship smartphones Z10 and Q10 running on the latest BB10 OS in January this year, but the company over-priced them at Rs 42,490 and Rs 44,900, respectively. It got the pricing wrong a second time for Q5 (the cheapest BB10 device in the Indian market), which was priced at Rs 24,990. As far as whether the 9720 is worth a buy- the answer is no. It doesn't even offer the new BB10 OS and in the same price range (Rs 15,000 to Rs 18,000), you can get your hands on smartphones like Samsung's Galaxy Grand Quattro (Rs 17,900), Nokia Lumia 625 (Rs 17,900) and Sony Xperia L (Rs 16,999), among others. We feel only diehard BlackBerry fans looking for a cheaper touch and type experience will probably opt for it.

Also, can the smartphone change BlackBerry's fortunes- the answer is no again. In fact, at this point, nothing sort of a miracle can save the company, which is looking to sell itself. Although at this rate selling itself could also prove to be even harder than selling its smartphones.