A look at 'Mercury', Blackberry's last in-house engineered phone
MANILA, Philippines – The smartphone business is so tough that even the most established household names aren't safe. Just look at Blackberry. Known for its QWERTY keyboard-equipped phones, the company has licensed out its brand to other partners, like Chinese company TCL.
But before TCL creates Blackberry phones from the ground up, Blackberry has one last device under its sleeve: the "Mercury." Not much is known about the phone right now with regards to specs. Even the name is not a certainty. What we do know is that it will come with Blackberry's signature keyboard along with a body that fits right in with today's glut of smartphones.
We also know that Blackberry CEO John Chen confirmed at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2017) that the Mercury will be the last phone to have been engineered in-house by Blackberry: "The last model we engineered and designed ourself – yes, that [the Mercury] will be the last one."
Conversely, the phone is the first Blackberry that TCL – which also owns another phone brand Alcatel – will be manufacturing in their long-term licensing partnership. TCL is aiming for the enterprise market and governments with their Blackberry handsets.
Complete specs and details for the Mercury are expected to be announced at the Mobile World Congress 2017 in late February. But a few pieces of information have trickled out in the tech press.
According to Wired, the QWERTY keyboard will have capacitive touch functionalities, meaning it can act like a touchpad that allows one to scroll through menus. It features a USB-C charging port, a version of Blackberry Messenger, and will run on Android Nougat, currently the latest version of the Android OS. It will be initially available in North America and Europe in early 2017 but a wider release has not been ruled out.
TechCrunch also confirmed that it packs 32GB of memory and will feature either a Qualcomm or Mediatek processor.
Officially, TCL has listed several confirmed features in a statement posted on their website:
- Keyboard: The world’s most advanced intelligent keyboard to date: touch sensitive with predictive typing functionality customized to your writing style and language preferences.
- Tactility: High-gloss polished keys mimic the finish of the display glass, giving a consistent, polished look across the front of the device.
- Security: Device security built in from the start using trusted BlackBerry security software that is updated in real time to ensure the best protection for your corporate and personal data.
- Android: 100% Android for access to all your apps and data and the entire Android ecosystem and OS updates.
This news comes as another legacy brand moves from producing its own phones to licensing its brand to other manufacturers.
Finland's Nokia, formerly the king of mobile phones, failed to capitalize on the shift to smartphones; now its phone business is alive thanks to a licensing partnership with HMD Global. (Read: Nokia Android smartphone officially unveiled) – Rappler.com
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