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Associated Press
Thorsten Heins, president and CEO, speaks at Research in Motion’s annual conference Tuesday in Orlando, Fla.

Cheaper Blackberry unveiled

Sleek, slim Q5 will feature keyboards, unlike competitors

– Research In Motion unveiled a lower-cost BlackBerry aimed at consumers in emerging markets on Tuesday, stepping up its efforts to regain market share lost to Apple’s iPhone and Android devices powered by Google’s software.

The lower-cost gadget, called the Q5, is the company’s third smartphone to run the new BlackBerry 10 system.

It will have a physical keyboard, something that sets RIM’s devices apart from Apple’s iPhone and most Android phones.

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said the “slim, sleek” device will be available in red, black, white and pink. He announced the phone to a packed ballroom to open RIM’s annual three-day conference in Orlando, Fla.

The device will be available in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia (including the Asia Pacific region) and Latin America beginning in July. The Q5 isn’t expected to be released in North America for now. The company did not disclose prices for the new phone.

RIM’s higher-tier Q10 has been released in most markets, but delays have meant that U.S. carriers aren’t likely to have it until June. The U.S. delays complicate RIM’s effort to hang on to customers tempted by Apple’s iPhone and a range of Android smartphones. Even as the BlackBerry has fallen behind rivals in recent years, many users have remained loyal because they prefer a physical keyboard over the touch screen found on other devices.

The Q5 differs only slightly from the Q10. Both have 2GB of RAM, though the Q5 has only 8GB of flash memory compared to 16 for the Q10. Both have 2 megapixel front-facing cameras, but the Q5’s rear-facing camera is only 5 megapixels, compared to the Q10 which has 8 megapixels and also records high-definition video.

Also, the Q5 has a 3.1-inch LCD display, while the Q10 is 3.1 inches and LED.

RIM unveiled new BlackBerrys this year after delays allowed Apple and others to continue their global advance.

RIM’s iconic BlackBerry device, introduced in 1999, was the dominant smartphone for on-the-go business people and consumers for nearly a decade. But rivals came out with a new generation of phones that could do more than just email and messaging, starting with the iPhone in 2007 and followed by devices running Google’s Android system. Suddenly, the BlackBerry looked ancient.

According to research firm IDC, shipments of BlackBerry phones plummeted from 46 percent of the U.S. market in 2008 to 2 percent in 2012.

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