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.
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.