BlackBerry has announced the BlackBerry Leap in the United Kingdom and a rollout in major markets, but a South African release date has yet to be announced.
The UK became the first roll-out market on 15 April, with the company targeting what it called “the first young power professionals who want to get things done and companies looking for enterprise fleet renewals”. The BlackBerry Leap was made available on ShopBlackBerry.com and through select carriers and partners. It will continue to rollout over the next few weeks across various countries, including Germany, France, United States, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and India. South Africa is not part of the initial release.
“With an all-touch screen, the BlackBerry Leap rounds out our portfolio of BlackBerry 10 devices, offering an affordable choice to mobile professionals who require a smartphone that safeguards sensitive communications and keeps them productive,” said Ron Louks, President, Devices and Emerging Solutions at BlackBerry.
BlackBerry Leap features the latest BlackBerry 10.3.1 operating system, a brilliant edge-to-edge five-inch HD display and more than a full day’s battery power.
The company provided the following description of the top features of the BlackBerry Leap:
Security to Maintain Privacy – You can feel safe in the knowledge that BlackBerry Leap was designed with the highest standards of security in mind to protect your privacy. It is equipped with support for encryption, plus built-in malware protection and back-up, wipe and restore. All to give you control and help secure your data against the next embarrassing and potentially costly cyberattack.
Battery That Powers Through a Full Day – With up to 25 hours of heavy use, the BlackBerry Leap will power through even your most demanding day. The impressive 2800 mAh battery and optimization of power consumption in BlackBerry 10 gives users more than a full day of productive usage.
Best-in-Class BlackBerry Keyboard – Type faster and more accurately on a touchscreen keyboard that learns how you write. With superior error correction, multi-language support, customized adaption and flow, BlackBerry’s touchscreen keyboard helps to reduce the mistakes and missteps that can hold you back.
BlackBerry 10 OS 10.3.1 –BlackBerry Leap comes preloaded with the new BlackBerry 10.3.1 operating system, offering a fresh look that incorporates updated icons and an instant action bar so that users’ most commonly accessed functions are in the center of their screen. Additional features include:
BlackBerry Blend – BlackBerry Blend brings messaging and content that is on your BlackBerry smartphone to your computer and tablet. Get instant message notifications, read and respond to your work and personal email, BBM or text messages, and access your documents, calendar, contacts and media in real time on whatever device you are on, powered by your BlackBerry. BlackBerry Blend works across desktop operating systems, including Mac OS X 10.7 +, Windows 7+ and Android tablets running Android 4.4+ via cellular, USB or Wi-Fi connections.
BlackBerry Assistant – The BlackBerry Assistant is BlackBerry’s first digital assistant and can be used with voice and text commands to help users manage work and personal email, contacts, calendar and other native BlackBerry 10 applications. It’s the only smartphone assistant on the market today that can access both personal and work content in your work perimeter. BlackBerry Assistant intelligently determines how to respond to you based on how you interact with it – if you type, it responds silently, if you speak, it speaks back and if you activate over Bluetooth, it speaks back with additional context because it assumes you might not have access to the screen.
Dual app storefronts preloaded for access to a huge selection of apps for work and play:
BlackBerry World – BlackBerry World offers essential business and productivity apps for professionals looking to drive efficient communications and collaboration including Box, Evernote, Cisco WebEx Meetings and Documents to Go.
Amazon Appstore – Discover and download popular Android apps and games through the Amazon Appstore including Candy Crush Saga, Pinterest, SoundCloud, Kindle and Amazon Shopping.
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Huge appetite for foldable phones – when prices fall
Samsung, Huawei and Motorola have all shown their cards, but consumers are concerned about durability, size, and enhanced use cases, according to Strategy Analytics
Foldable devices are a long-awaited disrupter in the smartphone market, exciting leading-edge early adopters keen for a bold new type of device. But the acceptance of foldable devices by mainstream segments will depend on the extent to which the current barriers to adoption are addressed.
Major brands have been throwing their foldable bets into the hat to see what the market wants from a foldable, namely how big the screens should be and how the devices should fold. Samsung and Huawei have both designed devices that unfold from smartphones to tablets, each with their own method of how the devices go about folding. Motorola has recently designed a smartphone that folds in half, and it resembles a flip phone.
Assessing consumer desire for foldable smartphones, a new report from the User Experience Strategies group at Strategy Analytics has found that the perceived value of the foldable form does not outweigh the added cost.
Key report findings include:
- The idea of having a larger-displayed smartphone in a portable size is perceived as valuable to the vast majority of consumers in the UK and the US. But, willingness to pay extra for a foldable device does not align with the desire to purchase one. Manufacturers must understand that there will be low sell-through until costs come down.
- But as the acceptance for traditional smartphone display sizes continues to increase, so does the imposed friction of trying to use them one-handed. Unless a foldable phone has a wider folded state, entering text when closed is too cumbersome, forcing users to utilize two hands to enter text, when in the opened state.
- Use cases need to be adequately demonstrated for consumers to fully understand and appreciate the potential for a foldable phone, though their priorities seemed fixed on promoting ‘two devices in one’ equaling a better video viewing experience. Identification and promotion of meaningful new use cases will be vital to success.
Christopher Dodge, Associate Director, UXIP and report author said: “As multitasking will look to be a core selling point for foldable phones, it is imperative that the execution be simplified and intuitive. Our data suggests there are a lot of uncertainties that come with foldable phone ownership, stemming mainly from concerns with durability and size, in addition to concerns over enhanced use cases.
“But our data also shows that when the consumers are able to use a foldable phone in hand, there is a solid reduction of doubt and concern about the concept. This means that the in-store experience may more important than ever in driving awareness, capabilities, and potential use cases.”
Said Paul Brown, Director, UXIP: “The big question is whether the perceived value will outweigh the added cost; and the initial response from consumers is ‘no.’ The ability for foldable displays to resolve real consumer pain-points is, in our view critical to whether these devices will become a niche segment of the smartphone market or the dominant form-factor of the future. Until costs come down, these devices will not take off.”
New exploit exposes credit cards on mobile phones
Check Point Security has found that handsets using Qualcomm chipsets that hold credit and debit card credentials are at risk of a new exploit.
Now it’s more important than ever to update your phone.
Check Point security has found a vulnerability in mobile devices that run Android, which allows credit card details to be accessed by hackers.
Mobile operating systems like Android offer a Rich Execution Environment (REE), providing a hugely extensive and versatile runtime environment, which allows apps to run on the device. However, while bringing flexibility and capability, REE leaves devices vulnerable to a wide range of security threats. A Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) is designed to reside alongside the REE and provide a safe area on the device to protect assets and to execute trusted code. Qualcomm makes use of a secure virtual processor, which is often referred to as the “secure world”, in comparison to the “non-secure world”, where REE resides.
But Check Point “fuzzed” a “hole” into this secure world
In a 4-month research project, Check Point researchers attempted and succeeded to reverse Qualcomm’s “Secure World” operating system. Check Point researchers leveraged a “fuzzing” technique to expose the hole. Fuzz testing (fuzzing) is a quality assurance technique used to discover coding errors and security loopholes in software, operating systems or networks. It involves inputting massive amounts of random data, called fuzz, to the test subject in an attempt to make it crash.
Check Point implemented a custom-made fuzzing tool, which tested trusted code on Samsung, LG, and Motorola devices. Through fuzzing, Check Point found 4 vulnerabilities in trusted code implemented by Samsung (including S10), 1 in Motorola, 1 in LG, but all code sourced by Qualcomm itself. To address the vulnerability, the runtime of Android needs to be protected from both attackers and users. This is typically achieved by moving the secure storage software to a hardware-supported TEE.
Check Point Research disclosed its findings directly to the companies and gave them time to patch vulnerabilities. Samsung patched three vulnerabilities and LG patched one. Motorola and Qualcomm responded, but have yet to provide a patch, and there is no confirmation of a release date yet.
Check Point Research has urged mobile phone users to stay vigilant and check their credit and debit card providers for any unusual activity. In the meantime, they are working with the vendors mentioned to issue patches.