The once king of QWERTY smartphones is set to return to European and North American markets at some point in 2021 thanks to a licensing partnership with OnwardMobility and FIH Mobile Limited. BlackBerry has granted the teams the rights to develop, engineer, and produce new a 5G-enabled BlackBerry-branded mobile device. Notice “device” solo rather than a series of devices, as we’re not sure if this partnership will extend beyond one piece of smartphone hardware.
Little else is known about the device, including screen size or internal specs, but OnwardMobility told The Register it would come with a completely new keyboard design that will “reflect the brand values from a keyboard typing experience and input experience.” Which, yeah, sure! I love to reflect brand values. Do it all the time.
It seems OnwardMobility will be angling the device to enterprise customers, emphasizing the phone’s ability to get work done on the go (surely less of a draw in a pandemic?) and its security features. This all makes sense, considering these were the attributes that attracted so many customers to BlackBerry devices in the past
“BlackBerry is thrilled OnwardMobility will deliver a BlackBerry 5G smartphone device with physical keyboard leveraging our high standards of trust and security synonymous with our brand. We are excited that customers will experience the enterprise and government level security and mobile productivity the new BlackBerry 5G smartphone will offer,” said John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO, BlackBerry.
Given just how difficult a time that BlackBerry faced in recent years, it’s a strange move but one that will be welcomed by the hardcore fanbase. It’s also impressive just how hard it has been to “fully” kill off the brand. Just when you think BlackBerry smartphones are finally dead, it rises from the grave very much like a mid-2000s Undertaker seemed to just in time for Wrestlemania every single year.