The latest BlackBerry Classic smartphone will now be available to Verizon Wireless customers, with online preorders starting Feb. 26 and in-store sales beginning on March 5.
The BlackBerry Classic includes the company's well-known QWERTY keyboard, trackpad and navigation keys, as well as a 3.5-inch square touch-screen HD display that is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for strength. The Classic also includes a 2MP front- and an 8MP rear-facing camera, a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 16GB of internal storage, which is expandable up to 128GB using a micro SD card.
BlackBerry launched the Classic in December 2014, just a few months after unveiling its BlackBerry Passport smartphone for enterprise users in September 2014.
The BlackBerry Classic will be the third BlackBerry smartphone available to Verizon customers, joining the BlackBerry Z10 and Z30 models that are already offered.
The new Classic will be priced at $99.99 after a $50 rebate under a two-year contract with Verizon, or customers can purchase it through the Verizon Edge plan, which allows customers to make monthly payments for their devices and trade in their devices in less time, according to Verizon.
The Classic also includes a 2,500mAh battery that provides users with up to 22 hours of mixed use, as well as power optimization that can extend battery life when power is running low and users need to stay online.
The Classic is a 4G LTE phone that runs on BlackBerry OS 10.3.1 and is XLTE-Ready.
Competitor AT&T began offering the BlackBerry Classic to its customers back in January, and will soon have a special AT&T-only round-edge Classic version that will be exclusively available to its customers, according to an earlier eWEEK report.
That round-edge version differs from the standard version, which has distinctive squared-off edges and corners as part of its design. The new exclusive AT&T version was created because AT&T wanted to offer it to its users.
BlackBerry has previously modified some of its phones with special colors or features for carriers in the past, including a BlackBerry Curve 8350i built specifically for Sprint/Nextel and a special Henna-designed Pearl color for AT&T.
BlackBerry continues to be hard at work in early 2015 as it seeks to rebuild its reputation and market presence after some very difficult years. BlackBerry's fall from dominating the enterprise smartphone market has been swift and stunning. In early 2006, before the first iPhones appeared from Apple, half of all smartphones sold were BlackBerry models. By 2009, though, its share of the global smartphone market was down to 20 percent.
BlackBerry spent much of 2012 and 2013 trying to shake off the image that it was finished, especially compared with its presence five years earlier when its devices were the "enterprise gold standard" for mobile business communications.
In December 2014, BlackBerry reported a mixed bag of financial results in its fiscal third-quarter 2015 earnings report. For the third quarter, which ended Nov. 29, the company reported a continuing drop in GAAP (generally accepted accounting principals) revenue to $793 million, down 13.43 percent from the prior quarter, while also posting a welcome 28.5 percent reduction in GAAP losses, which totaled $148 million for the quarter.
The $793 million in revenue is a drop from the $916 million posted in the company's fiscal 2015 second-quarter figures, which were reported back in September. The $148 million loss is a significant improvement from the $207 million loss that was posted at that time. The company's per share loss was 28 cents, compared with a loss of 39 cents per share in the second quarter.
That $793 million third-quarter revenue total is down 33.5 percent from the same quarter one year ago, when the company posted revenue of $1.19 billion.
BlackBerry said in the third quarter, hardware sales accounted for 46 percent of its revenue, services for 46 percent, and software and other revenue 8 percent.