The BlackBerry for the masses

BlackBerry has launched the entry-level Q5 handset to appeal to youth and emerging markets.

As widely expected by industry watchers, BlackBerry unveiled a new smartphone handset during its BlackBerry Live event in Orlando, Florida. Called the Q5, it is designed with ‘youth' in mind -- and is positioned as a 'my first QWERTY' keyboard phone for the touchscreen generation. It is also aimed at what the company refers to as emerging markets. As such the entry-level device will be marketed heavily in Latin America, parts of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia when it officially goes on sale in July. Pricing details were not revealed at the launch event.

Available in black, white or red, the Q5 combines a full keyboard with a 3.1-inch touch screen for the best of both worlds. "BlackBerry is excited to bring a new BlackBerry QWERTY smartphone, the BlackBerry Q5, to our customers in selected markets around world," said Thorsten Heins, the company's president and CEO. "The BlackBerry Q5 gives you the best of everything with its cutting-edge BlackBerry 10 functionality and a physical QWERTY keyboard. It is for youthful fans that are passionate, confident and bold, and it makes it easy for them to have fun, create, share and stay connected."

The company's head is understandably bullish considering that it is finally turning a profit and that its latest products are finally beginning to carve out a share of the smartphone market. The latest figures from Gartner, published Tuesday, show that BlackBerry has moved back into third place in the global smartphone market, selling 6.2 million handsets over the last three months.

The Q5 is designed to build on that success by offering more potential consumers an affordable way to try the company's unique features and products by combining a number of notable functions that debuted on BlackBerry's flagship devices earlier this year such as its time shift photography settings and BlackBerry Hub -- a full overview of all alerts, dates and social media interaction in one place that is accessed by a simple upward swipe -- in a cut-price, yet quality, package.