BlackBerry Phones Live Again, As Texas Startup Promises 5G Device

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BlackBerry back from the dead. New BlackBerry phone is promised for 2021, boasting 5G connectivity and a physical keyboard

BlackBerry smartphones may be back from the dead, after a Texas-based startup called OnwardMobility announced it is planning a new handset.

The announcement comes after OnwardMobility said that it had reached an agreements with BlackBerry Ltd (formerly Research in Motion) and Foxconn Subsidiary FIH Mobile to bring BlackBerry 5G smartphones to market.

It should be remembered that it was thought that BlackBerry smartphones were well and truly dead. Both BlackBerry and TCL Communication had confirmed in February this year that the Chinese manufacturer would no longer release any more BlackBerry-branded phones.

BlackBerry returns

The two firms had signed a licensing deal in December 2016 after a last-ditch attempt to revive BlackBerry’s fortunes in the smartphone sector by switching from BlackBerry 10 OS to the Android operating system, despite critical acclaim for BB 10 OS.

Since 2014 CEO John Chen had been hinting that BlackBerry could stop manufacturing devices as part of its ongoing recovery strategy. Then in September 2016 it was confirmed that BlackBerry would longer make smartphones (after 14 years) as the company focused all of its resources on security services and software.

That left TCL to make a couple of BlackBerry handsets, but takeup remained limited, and the Chinese maker dropped the licence.

But now Texas-based OnwardMobility has acquired the license from its original maker and announced the release of an Android-based 5G model in 2021.

A video from OnwardMobility’s CEO Peter Franklin, about the new handset, can be found here.

Remote working

OnwardMobility is justifying the idea to bring back BlackBerry handsets, saying that with the increasing number of staff working remotely with critical data and applications, coupled with the constant threat of cyberattacks, “there is an absolute need for a secure, feature-rich 5G-ready phone that enhances productivity.”

“Enterprise professionals are eager for secure 5G devices that enable productivity, without sacrificing the user experience,” said Peter Franklin. “BlackBerry smartphones are known for protecting communications, privacy, and data. This is an incredible opportunity for OnwardMobility to bring next-generation 5G devices to market with the backing of BlackBerry and FIH Mobile.”

And there was also warm words of encouragement from BlackBerry itself.

“BlackBerry is thrilled OnwardMobility will deliver a BlackBerry 5G smartphone device with physical keyboard leveraging our high standards of trust and security synonymous with our brand,” said John Chen, executive chairman and CEO of BlackBerry.

“We are excited that customers will experience the enterprise and government level security and mobile productivity the new BlackBerry 5G smartphone will offer,” Chen concluded.

It seems that OnwardMobility will conduct product planning and market development for BlackBerry smartphones in North America and FIH Mobile will design and manufacture the BlackBerry devices under strict guidelines to ensure component, device and supply chain integrity.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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