Reports of BlackBerry’s death – a second time – have been greatly exaggerated. Today, OnwardMobility along with FIH Mobile Limited – a subsidiary of the manufacturing giant Foxconn – has announced that it has won the license to produce the first 5G BlackBerry phone. And it’ll have a keyboard.
In a press release, OnwardMobility has stated that we can expect it to deliver a 5G BlackBerry Android smartphone at some point in the first half of 2021.
The deal sounds similar to the partnership BlackBerry had with TCL previously to build secure Android phones, in that OnwardMobility will be granted the license to build smartphones under the BlackBerry brand.
OnwardMobility cites the ongoing need for a secure device and one that retains BlackBerry’s focus on productivity.
The phone, complete with a physical, clickable QWERTY will be launched in North America and Europe when it eventually arrives, but that’s about all the information we have currently.
It’s an interesting move for BlackBerry, a company which hasn’t made its own hardware for some time now. Onward Mobility is a little known company based in Texas, US, and in its ‘About’ page claims to be focused on delivering mobile products that are all about usability, productivity and security.
Essentially, it’s a company tailor-made for BlackBerry which has long preached those very same values.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see if there’s any demand at all for this latest product. Keyboard-equipped phones certainly don’t sell anywhere near as well as what we now consider to be the norm for smartphones: big, bezel-less screens.
Granted, there are those of us – even within the Pocket-lint team – who have something of a soft spot for BlackBerry (undoubtedly brought on by the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia), but the market has shifted quite far away from what BlackBerry offered back when it was the smartphone to own.
We’ll keep you updated on the specifics of the device when details drop. We have quite a wait until any phones result from this new partnership between BlackBerry, Onward Mobility and FIH Mobile.