It's getting fairly good reviews, with USA Today's Edward Baig calling it " just what the more traditional BlackBerry diehard has been waiting for," even with its hefty $449 price tag when unlocked. Verizon and AT&T will both carry the phone in the United States after Christmas.
It also carries software that will let users easily separate work from play -- a move aimed at the business users who are still the company's most loyal customers -- and can download apps from either the "BlackBerry World" app store or Amazon's Android-based marketplace.
It's easy to snicker at BlackBerry's attempts to secure any piece of the hardware game again, but the company has been doing some novel things. Plus, its chief executive seems to have a very clear strategy of how to achieve success again, and it is not to try to take on the big dogs in the smartphone world.
BlackBerry chief executive John Chen, who took the job last year has said "Thanks, but no thanks" to any advice from the outside about how to run the once-dominant smartphone maker against competitors such as Apple and Samsung. After Kim Kardashian confessed that she is a BlackBerry user, Chen said in a blog post that he was encouraged to jump on the publicity. But, he said, while he was happy to count Kardashian as a customer, he didn't think capitalizing on her revelation would be the best move for BlackBerry in the long run. And he's not interested in changing up his plans just to get some splashy publicity.
"It is not the right time for us to focus on the consumer market," he said in a blog post on LinkedIn earlier this month. "Our focus right now is on extending our legendary security foundation with new solutions for the enterprise. Nothing is making us waver from that strategy."
That stands in sharp contrast to the strategy of Chen's predecessor, Thorsten Heins, who made it clear that he was going after a certain, super-productive sector of the consumer market. He even called in some celebrity backup by way of brand ambassador Alicia Keys.
But Chen, who is charged with a turnaround mission, has focused his efforts on the company's core and its software, which still carries a high security reputation. And that eyes-on-the-prize strategy, he hopes, will serve the company well.
"That doesn't mean that we are giving up on our many phone fans, as you can tell from the recently-released BlackBerry Passport" and the Classic, Chen said. "But we cannot and will not chase sensationalism."