Reports about the death of BlackBerry – a second time – are greatly exaggerated. Today, OnwardMobility together with FIH Mobile Limited – a subsidiary of manufacturing giant Foxconn – announced that it has been awarded the license to produce the first 5G BlackBerry phone. And it will have a keyboard.
In a press release, OnwardMobility has stated that we can expect to ship a 5G BlackBerry Android smartphone sometime in the first half of 2021.
The deal sounds similar to BlackBerry’s previous partnership with TCL to build secure Android phones, in that OnwardMobility will be licensed to build smartphones under the BlackBerry brand.
OnwardMobility points to the continuing need for a secure device that maintains BlackBerry’s focus on productivity.
The phone, complete with a physical, clickable QWERTY, will be launched in North America and Europe when it finally arrives, but that’s all the information we have at this time.
This is an interesting step for BlackBerry, a company that hasn’t been manufacturing its own hardware for some time. Onward Mobility is a little-known company based in Texas, USA, and claims in its “About” page that it focuses on delivering mobile products that focus on usability, productivity and security.
In essence, it is a BlackBerry-focused company that has long preached these very values.
It will certainly be interesting to see if there is any demand for this latest product. Keyboard-enabled phones certainly don’t sell nearly as well as what we consider the standard for smartphones today: large, frameless screens.
Admittedly, there are some of us – even within the Pocket-lint team – who have a certain penchant for BlackBerry (no doubt brought on by the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia), but the market has moved quite a bit away from what BlackBerry offered back when it was the smartphone to own.
We will keep you informed about the features of the device as soon as the details become available. We will have to wait quite some time before this new partnership between BlackBerry, Onward Mobility, and FIH Mobile turns into any phones.