At the time of writing this I've had my hands on the BlackBerry 9720 for nearly four days. We will have a full review of the new legacy device coming up in the very near future but in the meantime I just wanted to share my early thoughts on the 9720 and where I think it will have a place in the market.
It's been kind of odd going back to using BlackBerry 7 after nearly eight months with BlackBerry 10. I do still fire up my 9900 occasionally, but the difference in the two OS's is like chalk and cheese. Many folk still ask the question of why on earth BlackBerry would 'almost' backtrack and release a new smartphone running the now dated operating system. From where I'm sitting I think it comes down to two reasons.
First up is cost. The 9720 doesn't have the same build quality of the BlackBerry 10 handsets, including the Q5. It's very lightweight and feels a lot cheaper. Then you have to take onto consideration the price of the device. You can pick it up SIM free here in the UK for £179.98. It will be interesting to see how much the UK networks charge for the 9720 on Pay-As-You-Go as traditionally you get an even better deal. Compare the 9720 with the Q5 and there is a big difference in price.
Secondly, is a regional thing. In some parts of the world legacy devices are still selling extremely well and in fact it was only last year that we saw the release of the 2G only Curve 9220. Despite the transition to BlackBerry 10, it seems that there is still a place in the market for a BlackBerry running an older OS - for the time being anyway.
I was a little surprised to even see the 9720 go on sale here. I thought it may just be destined for other regions but I was clearly wrong. UK retailer Carphone Warehouse has already committed to selling the device on various networks with a contract, but we are yet to see the carriers actually launch this one themselves. Maybe they won't, although I think they would be silly not too.
You've only got to hit up the forums or previous blog posts to see CrackBerry members sound off about how the 9720 has less specs and is more expensive than the likes of some of the Nokia Lumia's. Sure, specs are important to many people, but for others it's all about the BlackBerry experience - even on the older OS. With touch screen keyboards being all the rage now there is still a minority that still love the hardware QWERTY that only BlackBerry do so well.
In my opinion it is a bit strange for BlackBerry to release the 9720 - what with having such a big drive with BlackBerry 10, but I kind of see their point.
If the consumer or business user want a cost effective, secure messaging device then the BlackBerry 9720 is it. It may not be as fancy and as highly specced as many other devices on the market but I honestly think it will sell. It's certainly not going to compete with the likes of higher end Android devices and the iPhone but at least it's an option for consumers on a budget and companies not looking to spend a lot.