BlackBerry Leap: A more promising design married to mid-ranged specs

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BlackBerry's latest smartphone isn't the flagship you might have been hoping for

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If you were hoping for a new flagship smartphone from BlackBerry, you might be disappointed by the Leap, with the new handset featuring a 720p display and the same Qualcomm processor we saw in the Z10 back in 2013. On the plus side, the Leap is one of the more attractive smartphones BlackBerry has released recently.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Leap is its simple, clean looks. While its design certainly can’t compete with the likes of the Galaxy S6 or the iPhone 6, it looks like one of the more attractive smartphones we’ve seen from the company in some time. The second thing you’ll notice is the device’s 5-inch display, which carries a somewhat disappointing 1,280 x 720 resolution (with 294 pixels per inch) – instantly calling the Leap out as a mid-range effort at best.

In terms of internals, the new smartphone couples a dual core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm processor with 2 GB RAM and 16 GB on board storage. There’s a microSD reader included and the device runs on BlackBerry 10 OS, which can actually run Android apps via the pre-installed Amazon Appstore. In terms of optics, there’s a 2 MP camera up front and a 8 MP shooter around the back.

While those specs won't set the world on fire, the handset does have LTE connectivity and a stated 25 hour battery life. The company is targeting the Leap at young professionals, and there’s a focus on security, with the device featuring support for encryption, built-in malware protection and more.

We’ve seen some compelling budget smartphones recently, with devices like the second generation Moto E and the recently unveiled Microsoft Lumia 640 and 640 XL offering some great specs and features at affordable price points. The Leap is set to launch for US$275 – a higher price point than many of its rivals. Like all Blackberries these days, it’s already looking like a tough sell.

While the Leap might not be the most forward thinking handset on show at Mobile World Congress, BlackBerry did provide a quick look at a prototype project, with the company’s handset chief holding up a sizeable new smartphone with a slide-out keyboard and a dual-curved display – similar to what we’ve seen on the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge.

The company’s promise to release more ambitious hardware began last year with the Passport, and looks to continue with the new prototype slider. At any rate, the unnamed device certainly provides BlackBerry fans with a little something to look forward to.

The Leap will be available in April for $275 off-contract.

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