The first 5G BlackBerry handset that has a physical keyboard was planned for 2021. However, delays, and more recently, the denial of the license put plans on the table, for a long time.
A brand new BlackBerry device was expected to be launched in 2021 with the brand appearing to come coming back… once more. But, no device has been announced and, in the last few days, the chance of a device being launched has gone from being slim to nonexistent.
Re-reading the rise and decline of BlackBerry is a frequent topic in the world of consumer technology, particularly because the company has experienced another decline and rise within the last three years.
At a time when it was the king of business in the world of phones in the early 2000s, BlackBerry’s keyboard with its physical keys and software with straight-faced faces didn’t last the assault by the iPhone and the advent of Android. BlackBerry launched one Android phone in 2015 – the Priv – but it discontinued making phones.
TCL purchased rights to make BlackBerry-branded smartphones which included KeyOne in 2017. KeyOne and in the following year’s Key2 which is a superior sequel. Other handsets were released as part of the partnership however, after August 31, 2021, TCL discontinued supporting the phones via software upgrades, and the partnership came to an end.
It was with a bit of delight that it was announced that, at the same time with TCL’s decision to revoke the license it had previously obtained, US firm OnwardMobility was able to take it instead and then announced the possibility of a 5G compatible BlackBerry device that has an actual keyboard. It was initially scheduled for release in 2021.
When will 2022 be the date for the release of BlackBerry?
In the end, nope; at least not under OnwardMobilility’s momentum, at least not any longer.
A brand new BlackBerry smartphone running Android was initially planned to be released in “the first second quarter of 2021” According to the OnwardMobility’s first 2020 press announcement regarding the topic, however, one year from the time of its release there was no sign of a BlackBerry having been launched.
In late July 2021, BlackBerry announced the ” Pre-Commitment Program,” offering fans and businesses the chance to offer feedback regarding the development process for the very first 5G BlackBerry and as an opportunity to get early access to pre-orders when the handset is fully functional and ready to launch.
The sign-up page for the program did not reveal any additional details about when the phone will be released However, it offered some information about the development of OnwardMobility in the design of their device going on at this point however, there was no final design or specifications and features that aren’t yet set in stone.
In the wake of the fact that older BlackBerry devices dropped support for software on January 4, 2022, the focus quickly shifted back to OnwardMobility as well as the apparent silence on the radio that the company had fallen into at the mid-2021 mark and left fans ignorant of the development of its first device and the date to be expecting it.
When I checked in on January 5 The company’s website appeared unresponsive; making reference to 2021’s release date, but no posts or updates for months. The site has been unable to cover both the website and its social channels. This makes a “when” appear more as more of an “if” for the minds of hopeful BlackBerry users.
After receiving a lot of attention from the media and BlackBerry users alike, a new blog article appeared on the blog of OnwardMobility within a few hours (6 January) with the title “Contrary to what many believe We aren’t dead.”
In the blog post, OnwardMobility acknowledged the absence of any communication with the public and promised to provide “more regular updates from this month to clarify and address any of your questions” regarding the development of its first device.
In relation to the lack of silence that has accompanied it to this moment, the first paragraph read, “2021 was truly a difficult year for us to launch a brand new smartphone and even less one that met the high standards we set and the reality that we’re determined to make sure that we get it right” with no details of delays which prevented the company from releasing its first phone in 2021 in the manner originally promised.
Despite the company’s apparent renewed determination to bring its first smartphone to market, it was discovered it was BlackBerry (the firm) that had other plans shortly after.
On the 10th of February, CrackBerry’s Kevin Michaluk stated that the project was “dead at the time of writing,” stating that numerous sources had confirmed that OnwardMobil’s efforts were in the mud.
BlackBerry (the firm) had decided to terminate OnwardMobility’s license (preventing OnwardMobility from using its BlackBerry name) in a move that itself was in line with the sale of the final portion of its patent portfolios for mobile devices, at a cost of $600 million.
This demise of the BlackBerry branding, along with the lengthy and difficult timeframe OnwardMobility had to contend with, were all reportedly contributing factors to their decision to end the project.
For those who are still pondering or wishing that we will see another BlackBerry the current conditions appear to be more difficult than ever.
What would 2022’s BlackBerry cost?
While OnwardMobilility’s plans may have been canceled, there are still insights that can be used to estimate the price of what could be.
The price for the first 5G BlackBerry was anticipated to be rather expensive, possibly around the PS800/US$800 threshold which was based on the likelihood that OnwardMobility was likely to be offering the handset in lower quantities than the typical manufacturer.
The TCL BlackBerry phones were usually higher priced than the specifications warranted – when compared with other devices, and this was not likely to change with the launch of OnwardMobility’s BlackBerry.
A BlackBerry 2021/2022 is an extremely niche phone, to put it mildly, and, while the high price could have been a reflection of the exclusiveness of a safe phone that had a keyboard, the truth is that it would likely be more expensive due to the same appeal to niches.
What specifications would 2022’s BlackBerry offer?
According to OnwardMobility, the company’s new BlackBerry promises 5G connectivity as well as a physical keyboard. They’re the only two specs that have been explicitly teased, apart from an announcement that said the handset will run Android.
In addition to licensing as well as acquiring the BlackBerry brand name, OnwardMobility has also been confirmed as working alongside FIH Mobile Limited – a subsidiary of Foxconn to produce the handset.
The only thing in the announcement which suggested the specs of the phone was the statement that “there is a dire necessity for a secure high-quality, feature-rich phone with 5G which improves productivity.”
It’s not entirely clear, but it suggests that BlackBerry was the company (after the end of production of their own handsets, BlackBerry focused on becoming an effective company in cyber-security) was probably involved in the software aspect like it was with the licensed TCL phones.
Although the demise of the OnwardMobility license was an unexpected aspect of this latest story, the previous pattern in BlackBerry giving away its catalog of patents wasn’t a new phenomenon.
Over the last couple of years, the company has been busy cutting down its patent portfolio for mobile devices, which included 90 of them sold to Huawei in the middle of 2021, but that’s just a tiny fraction when compared to the claimed total of 38,000 patents that it was at one-time holding.
“Feature-rich” could mean that the latest BlackBerry was intended to become an all-singing dancing high-end model, not like KeyOne or Key2. KeyOne and Key2. 5G phones don’t have to boast the latest and most robust Snapdragon chipsets, but it would have made the new BlackBerry gain more traction in the eyes of customers. The KeyOne particularly has a slow performance today and isn’t well-planned for the future.
OnwardMobility’s device of choice may have taken much inspiration from the 2015’s BlackBerry Priv which was the final phone BlackBerry produced and the first BlackBerry that ran Android.
We talk about Onward Mobility’s initial ideas for the company’s initial BlackBerry smartphone in the episode of our podcast every week. Fast Charge.
The new BlackBerry 2022 Wish List
With only a few details ever uncovered about the not-finished BlackBerry phone, here are some things we’d like to have seen so that we could do justice to the brand.
A high refresh rate display
KeyOne and Key2 KeyOne and Key2 utilized the same screen, but it wasn’t the best one. The colors were dim and the brightness wasn’t as good. A high-end BlackBerry should have better displays We’d prefer one with a higher refresh rate in the present day. If OnwardMobility intended to lure business professionals, they needed to provide them with an exceptional display.
A keyboard that is superlative
It’s a given that the keyboard’s physical design has to be great, but the most memorable keyboard for BlackBerry is 2014. 2014’s BlackBerry Classic. The tactile keys that click aren’t being recreated since. The Key2 came close however it was too narrow and large.
Form factor sliding
The problem with placing more keys is the expectations of contemporary phone design. KeyOne and Key2 had a sluggish screens. KeyOne and Key2 featured squishy screens to accommodate an actual keyboard beneath them but still had the size of a smartphone that is manageable. Like we’ve mentioned before, OnwardMobility would have been appropriate to draw inspiration from the BlackBerry Priv equipped with a standard touchscreen display for smartphones as well as a sliding design that hides a keyboard.
If the phone had copied the slim style of the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and also made Android function properly and properly, we’d have been in a state of nostalgia.
The cameras on TCL BlackBerrys had all been poor. We had hoped that the cameras of the 5G BlackBerry could have been able to compete with the latest smartphones. If companies want to revive the brand it is time to not compromise on the quality of their cameras. This is one of the primary things people want on their smartphones today is quality including businesspeople.