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Zombie BlackBerrys! QWERTY BlackBerry Android telephones are coming again

OnwardMobility’s teaser picture.


The BlackBerry Priv, really from BlackBerry, felt like the corporate’s final full-effort try at a smartphone.

Ron Amadeo

The BlackBerry KeyOne from TCL. It appears advantageous from a distance, however TCL was charging manner an excessive amount of for it.


TCL additionally turned in actually unhappy choices like this “BlackBerry DTEK50,” which is only a rebranded TCL Alcatel telephone.

TCL / Ron Amadeo

The BlackBerry Key2 from 2018. The identical factor because the KeyOne, however in additional colours. Actually, at this level we misplaced curiosity.


Like a foul zombie film sequel, BlackBerry telephones are getting back from the useless, a second time. After TCL tried and did not make a enterprise out of licensing the BlackBerry model and promoting Android telephones, a brand new startup known as OnwardMobility appears like it’s going to choose up basically the identical playbook in 2021.

There aren’t too many particulars but, however OnwardMobility put out a press launch and web site detailing the brand new BlackBerry telephone plan. The corporate says it’s going to make “a brand new 5G BlackBerry Android smartphone with bodily keyboard, within the first half of 2021 in North America and Europe.” The press launch additionally mentions that “BlackBerry smartphones are identified for shielding communications, privateness, and information,” so anticipate a lot of encryption. There are additionally a number of nods to enterprise clients—actually, all of it appears like the identical previous BlackBerry.

BlackBerry-branded telephones from BlackBerry died in 2016 when the corporate give up the handset manufacturing enterprise. BlackBerry caught with its personal in-house OSes for too lengthy whereas the Android and iOS duopoly took over the world, and the corporate’s gross sales tanked. It wasn’t till 2015 that BlackBerry made its first Android gadget, the BlackBerry Priv, however by then it was a “guess the corporate” state of affairs and the Priv flopped. BlackBerry ended up licensing the model to Chinese language firm TCL Communication, which went on to supply some shamelessly rebranded slab telephones and some faithful-but-expensive QWERTY bar telephones just like the BlackBerry KeyOne and the Key2. TCL wasn’t any extra profitable than BlackBerry promoting Android telephones, and in February 2020, BlackBerry introduced that TCL was strolling away. The TCL licensing deal really expires on the finish of this month, and BlackBerry already has a brand new suitor lined up.

OnwardMobility’s press launch says BlackBerry and FIH Cell might be concerned within the design and manufacturing of the brand new gadgets, which is an effective signal. FIH Cell is a Foxconn subsidiary. Whereas “Foxconn” is a contract producer that may simply construct your design, the FIH Cell wing of Foxconn is a turn-key smartphone operation that does product growth and design, manufacturing, and after-sales companies and repairs. FIH Cell at the moment handles the manufacturing and design for HMD’s Nokia telephones, which we’re big followers of.

When TCL signed its BlackBerry deal, it did not simply license the model, it additionally acquired a license for BlackBerry’s keyboard patents, letting it make authentic-feeling QWERTY pads. The press launch would not outright point out patents, however it does say BlackBerry is concerned within the design, suggesting it signed an identical deal.

The BlackBerry Android strains from BlackBerry correct and TCL each had the benefit of being mainly the one QWERTY Android telephones in the marketplace, however twice now shoppers haven’t proven an enormous quantity of curiosity in that concept. It is not clear why OnwardMobility thinks it may possibly succeed the place TCL failed, however we’ll see what the corporate’s gross sales pitch is like when the telephone launches subsequent 12 months.

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