BlackBerry Q20 will bring back the trackpad, tool bar buttons

BlackBerry QWERTY diehards will be pleased with the smartphone vendor’s new BlackBerry Q20, which will bring back the trackpad and toolbar buttons last seen on the BlackBerry Bold models running the old Blackberry 7 OS.

When BlackBerry launched the BlackBerry Q10 running the new BlackBerry 10 OS, one change that immediately caught the eye of observers was the elimination of the toolbar at the bottom of the screen and above the QWERTY keyboard that included a trackpad, as well as Menu, Back, Send and End buttons.

While some users like the additional real estate for the touchscreen, others missed the convenience of the physical trackpad and key function buttons. They’ll get them back when BlackBerry launches the Q20 later this year.

“In my first 90 days on the job, I consistently heard from our ardent BlackBerry customers that the hard buttons and trackpad are an essential part of the BlackBerry QWERTY experience, that made their BlackBerry smartphone their go-to productivity tool. I want these customers to know that we heard them, and this new smartphone will be for them,” said John Chen, executive chairman and CEO at BlackBerry, in a statement. “Today, we’re delighted to announce the new BlackBerry Q20 smartphone, which is designed to give you the distinct experience that every BlackBerry QWERTY loyalist and high-productivity business customer absolutely loves. With the BlackBerry Q20 smartphone, you’ll get the familiar hard buttons and trackpad that you want, along with the best email service, the best keyboard experience and the best battery life possible.”

In addition to the return of the tool bar and QWERTY keyboard, the Q20 will feature a 3.5” touchscreen – the largest yet for a BlackBerry QWERTY handset — and all the features of the new BlackBerry 10 OS, such as BlackBerry Hub. It will also have a larger battery for longer battery life than previous models.

For one BlackBerry user who has been holding on to his Bold 9900 and waiting to make the leap to a newer model, the Q20 is just what he’s looking for. Ryan Lake, a lawyer with Reisler Franklin LLP in Toronto, said he’s not one to upgrade for the sake of upgrading – BlackBerry makes a reliable, durable phone, and that’s why he likes them – but he’ll pull the trigger on an upgrade to the Q20 when it comes available.

“Maybe I was reluctant to get the Q10 because of the fact it didn’t have the end button or the trackpad. It made things seem less obvious, and friends using it expressed that to me,” said Lake. “Now that the Q20 is coming though the barriers are down. It’s exactly what I want.”

If there’s one potential hiccup in Lake’s upgrade plans though, it’s the lack of specificity from BlackBerry on the timeline for the Q20’s launch. Currently, BlackBerry is just saying it will be available in the second half of 2014.

“I think (a specific launch date) would definitely work in their favour, because that’s the day I’m going to buy it,” said Lake. “Not knowing when it’s going to be released for certain means if something does happen to my phone and I have to make a decision, I might pursue something else and may sample the market.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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