Just a few short years ago, in a time that now feels like a different age, BlackBerry phones were all the rage and having one made you feel like a smart business person.
This was true even if, like myself, you were just a scruffy student who had absolutely no use for the BlackBerry Assistant feature whatsoever, and just liked Word Mole and the way the little buttons looked.
Now, BlackBerry is set to release a brand new phone model, with a 5G Android device scheduled for release in 2021.
As of yet, not much is known about the upcoming device. However, it will reportedly still feature the iconic keyboard that satisfyingly resembles the drupelets that make up a blackberry fruit.
BlackBerry was bought by TCL Communication in 2016, which announced earlier this year that, from August 31, 2020, they would no longer be ‘selling BlackBerry-branded mobile devices’.
Texas startup OnwardMobility is now managing BlackBerry, and will reportedly be marketing the new device for government and corporate clients, with an emphasis on productivity and security.
CEO of OnwardMobility, Peter Franklin – who has so far declined to give any specifics about the device’s features – told :
Top of mind for us is not just making the most secure and productive device, but also being an everyday device.
That means things like a top-notch camera, and the other specs you’d expect from your day-to-day phone. Simultaneously, we know that we must be competitive, and so is our pricing.
Executive chairman and CEO of BlackBerry, John Chen, told :
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.
However, it won’t necessarily be an easy transition for BlackBerry, with the mobile industry currently facing significant challenges.
CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood told the mobile business has ‘never been harder’, with the pandemic further hurting a market which has ‘dropped 12% year-on-year’.
If you look at the space which you’d expect a BlackBerry device to occupy – which is more around the mid-tier, and not the uber-high tier like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra – it’s difficult to see anyone coming in, no matter what the offering is.
Assuming they’re in the £500-£800 space, they’re going to facing phones like the iPhone 11, and devices packing six cameras and the latest Qualcomm chipset. That’s a very, very tough space, and they’re going to need something extraordinary.
The phone itself will be made available across North America and Europe at some point in the first half of 2021, and will mark the first launch of a BlackBerry smartphone since 2018’s Key2.