BlackBerry unveils keyboard-less phone at MWC

BlackBerry unveils keyboard-less phone at MWC

Canadian smartphone manufacturer BlackBerry has announced the launch of a touch-screen phone without physical keys at the Mobile World Congress trade show.

The BlackBerry Leap is not the first all-touch phone to be released by the company, but is likely to still come as something of a surprise for many experts and analysts.

Last March saw chief executive John Chen state the firm was going to focusing on "keyboard-centric" models amid falling sales.

Research firm Gartner suggested the company shipped 7.9 million devices last year – a substantial drop on 2013's figure of 18.6 million units.

Another study by eMarketer suggested the number of UK-based BlackBerry users could fall to 700,000 this year, having previously reached 2.5 million in 2013.

That has seen the company focus much of its efforts on providing software solutions for other platforms, but the release of the Leap arguably shows it is still keen to keep itself in the hardware market.

The new model will run on the company's 10.3.1 operating system and will feature a five-inch 720p HD resolution display, 16GB of internal storage, as well as built-in malware protection.

Such specifications mean it is a handset that will be firmly in the mid-range, rather than the premium side, of the smartphone market.

Blackberry has already stated that it hopes the handset will appeal to "career-building" young professionals, as well as organisations that value security and privacy.

However, the new handset will face a challenge from various competitors in what is already a crowded market.

The Leap is not the only device to be launched by the company, with BlackBerry also offering a brief look into an as of yet unnamed curved-screened phone with a keyboard capable of sliding out from below the screen.