The BlackBerry brand is making a comeback once again. The once-popular brand has been licensed with hopes to carve a niche in the extremely competitive Android market. Onward Mobility, FIH Mobile, and BlackBerry have signed an agreement to produce and deliver a new phone by 2021.
Onward Mobility is a Texas-based company that builds security solutions for enterprise customers and the government. According to the agreement terms, FIH Mobile, a Foxconn subsidiary, will engineer and produce the device. BlackBerry will provide security technology at par with government and enterprise levels. Onward Mobility will be responsible for planning and selling the device. The product will be sold in Europe and North America as of now. No details have been provided so far about the phone’s reach in other markets.
The press release that was issued by the three companies did not disclose a lot of details regarding the specifications of the Smartphone. However, it did mention that the phone will be 5G enabled, run on Google’s Android system, have a QWERTY keyboard, and have enhanced security features. The press release also mentioned that the product will be available in the first half of 2021, which might mean that development is already in process. Moreover, Peter Franklin, who is the CEO of Onward Mobility, said in an interview with The Register that the device will have a redesigned clean-sheet keyboard and will come with long-term support.
Onward Mobility will be emphasizing on the device’s capability to support enhanced security features. BlackBerry phones have always been known for exceptional protection of privacy and user data. Franklin also stressed upon the fact that enterprise professionals are looking for devices that are secure and have 5G connectivity that enhances productivity, but not at the expense of user experience. John Chen, CEO and Executive Chairman, Blackberry also expressed excitement about the government and enterprise-level security the new 5G phone will offer to its customers.
The BlackBerry 5G phone might not be flagship standard, but more like a mid-range phone. With possibly competitive pricing, the new BlackBerry will not be along the lines of the iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy Note 20. Franklin explained that they aimed to make a device that is productive, secure, and great for everyday use. This means that the device might have features like an exceptional camera, something we expect from our day-to-day phones.
Governments and businesses have always been content with BlackBerry devices due to secure communications, physical keyboards, and premium handsets. However, to make the 5G smartphone work will be slightly tougher than earlier. Most people are used to touchscreen keyboards on smartphones. Moreover, a lot of BlackBerry loyalists have now moved to newer smartphones on offer. So, BlackBerry and its partners will have to ensure that a niche market is addressed and the phone has features that outshine other phones to make its mark.
This isn’t the first time BlackBerry has had a comeback. A choice of millions at one time, BlackBerry was popular among professionals for its security and privacy. It was also a hit among the young crowd due to the BlackBerry Messenger. After the introduction of Android and iOS phones, the brand faced tough competition and signed a deal with TCL communications in 2016. However, TCL announced in February that it will no longer sell devices from the BlackBerry brand.