BlackBerry gave up producing its own smartphones a few years ago, and instead began working on partnerships with third-party companies to manufacture and sell phones under the BlackBerry name that come with BlackBerry apps and services installed.

Earlier this year BlackBerry’s biggest partner pulled the plug, which means we won’t be seeing any more TCL-made BlackBerry phones.

But a new partner has announced plans to release a new BlackBerry-branded smartphone in 2021.

BlackBerry Key2 LE (A 2018 TCL/BlackBerry phone)
BlackBerry Key2 LE (A 2018 TCL/BlackBerry phone)

OnwardMobility says it’s partnering with BlackBerry and Foxconn subsidiary FIH Mobile to make a new BlackBerry phone that:

  • Runs Android
  • Supports 5G networks
  • Features a physical keyboard
  • Will ship in the first half of 2021 in North American and Europe

For now that’s really all we know about the upcoming device. It’s unclear what BlackBerry software and services, if any, will be included in the new phone. But at a time when there aren’t many options for smartphone users who are fans of physical keyboards, I suppose it’s nice to have another choice on the horizon.

BlackBerry helped create the smartphone industry, but the company failed to stay competitive after Apple and Google entered the market. While the company did adapt its BlackBerry OS to support phones with large touchscreen displays and no physical keyboards, eventually BlackBerry gave up on developing its own OS and transitioned to Android… before eventually exiting the hardware business altogether and focusing on software and licensing.

OnwardMobility is to be a new company that appears to have been set up recently for the purpose of selling new BlackBerry phones, and the company says it will be working with BlackBerry and FIH mobile for the design and manufacturing.

The partnership is similar to the deal Nokia and HMD struck a few years back. At this point if you’re buying a Nokia-branded phone, it’s actually a HMD device. And soon if you buy a BlackBerry device, what you’ll actually be getting will probably be an OnwardMobility product.

press release

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6 replies on “A new BlackBerry 5G phone with a keyboard coming in 2021 (sort of)”

  1. I held out for a second edition of the Priv for a couple years now. But now with Pinephone coming out with a keyboard option, I have to say it’s too little to late.

  2. I’m a horizontal QWERTY slider fan myself but I guess there’s still a market for portrait keyboard BlackBerry phones.

  3. I’m really happy to see more phones with keyboards! I’m sad it runs Android and not the superior Blackberry OS 10, but that is to be expected. I really had wished for an optical sensor though! Those really made using the internet on a smartphone a breeze, especially when browsing the net. Super comfortable, works with one hand and no need for a single crappy mobile-adapted webpage. 😀

  4. I don’t know about the rest of you, but these keyboards are at least twice as slow to type on for me compared to a touchscreen keyboard.

    I use the swipe mode on the standard Samsung keyboard, and its pretty fast.

    I don’t know who’s gonna buy these phones. Maybe my Grandpa, because he still doesn’t understand touchscreen keyboards?

    1. Everyone has different taste of course, but there is no doubt I can write twice as fast on one of these than any of my friends can on their touch screens. I can even take notes on lectures and speeches in real time – with correct spelling and no need for auto-incorrect. 😉 I also find it much more comfortable and less straining since I can rest my fingers on the keys without interfering with something. Best is a landscape mode physical keyboard though, like the Nokia E7. Writing mails on that device was pure joy.

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