BlackBerry hasn’t actually made any smartphones in years. The BlackBerry KeyOne and Key2? Those were both made by TCL.

Now BlackBerry has announced its partnership with TCL is ending.  That means that after August 31st, 2020 there probably won’t be any new BlackBerry-branded smartphones unless the company can find another hardware partner.

While BlackBerry was an early innovator in the smartphone space, the company was slow to adapt to the paradigm shift in the mobile space brought on by the rise of the iPhone and Android devices. The company eventually switched from using its own operating system and released a handful of phones like the touchscreen-only DTEK50, DTEK60 and the touchscreen + keyboard BlackBerry Priv before moving to a software-and-services model.

TCL’s BlackBerry-branded devices featured the BlackBerry name and some BlackBerry software and features. And they were probably the most prominent Android phones with keyboards in recent years. But while TCL hasn’t weighed in on its decision to end its partnership with BlackBerry, a statement shared by BlackBerry makes the move sound pretty final.

BlackBerry does say that it will continue to “provide support for the existing portfolio of mobile devices including customer service and warranty services until August 31, 2022 – or for as long as required by local laws where the mobile device was purchased.”

It’s worth noting that TCL isn’t BlackBerry’s only hardware partner — but it is by far the biggest. Recent BlackBerry-branded devices sold in India and a handful of other markets had been made by Optiemus Infracom and BB Merah Putih. But with TCL having had an exclusive license for BlackBerry-branded devices sold around most of the globe, it’s unclear if or when we’ll see any new BlackBerry phones sold globally.

Meanwhile, folks looking for Android phones with physical keyboards still have a few options… although none of them come from companies with the history and reputation of BlackBerry or TCL.

The F(x)tec Pro 1 is a $699 smartphone with a slide-out keyboard, 2017-era specs (including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor) and support for stock Android software, LineageOS, or the Linux-based Sailfish operating system.

The Unihertz Titan, meanwhile, is a more affordable phone that’s up for pre-order for $320 and which is a straight-up Blackberry clone with a QWERTY keyboard beneath a 4.6 inch square display. It has a MediaTek Helio P60 processor and Unihertz raised over $775-thousand for the phone through a crowdfunding campaign last year.

via 9to5Google

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5 replies on “TCL pulls the plug on BlackBerry smartphones”

  1. Shame! The Priv was by far my favorite design for a smart phone. The poor manufacturing meant mine didn’t last though. I’d still be using it to this day if it did.

  2. Not really sad news.
    What was sad is seeing the death of QNX/BBX, but that happened years ago, as this is just another Android OEM with a pretty logo (like Motorola!). Nothing innovative, or adding to competition.

    1. QNX is alive and well. It’s being used for embedded devices and IOT just as it should.
      Currently on version 7

      1. Anywhere I can read more about it?
        I’m not sure if IoT (smart doors/bulbs?) is the best application for QNX, it seemed more adept at visual things like Tablets or Car Entertainment.

        PS: I remember comparing the RIM Playbook to the iPad 2, Moto Xoom, and Samsung Tab. It seemed like the best at the time, iOS was close second, Android 2.3/3.0 was garbage, and Windows 7-Touch was the worst. I didn’t have a HP-Palm TouchPad webOS to compare to at the time, but I’ve heard they were pretty rough around the corners.

  3. That’s too bad… really wanted one myself, but there wasn’t a clean way to get it working on Verizon.

    I’m surprised these didn’t sell better than they did. There has to be a market for people who use their phone more for communication than for multimedia apps… I’d gladly sacrifice some of my screen’s real estate for a physical keyboard. Tablets are cheap and work just as well for non-email purposes.

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