In an effort to revive the once leading BlackBerry brand, Canadian company BlackBerry Limited, has rolled out a new smartphone.
TCL Communication, a Chinese manufacturer which took over the rights to the smartphone brand from the Canadian tech firm in 2016, unveiled the new Blackberry Key2. The new device, which includes a physical keyboard under a 4.5 inch screen runs the Android operating system updates of the first BlackBerry Key.
According to Alain Lejeune, head of TCL’s BlackBerry Mobile division, “Although there are many different smartphones for consumers to choose from today, most tend to offer very similar experiences without much distinction from one to the next.”
“With the introduction of BlackBerry Key2, we’ve created a distinct smartphone that captures all the traits that have made BlackBerry smartphones iconic, while introducing new innovations and experiences that not only make this one of the best devices for security and privacy, but also the most advanced BlackBerry smartphone ever.” He stated.
BlackBerry was one of the most prominent smartphone vendors in the world, specializing in secure communications and mobile productivity, and well-known for the keyboards on most of its devices. At its peak in September 2013, there were 85 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide. However, BlackBerry has since lost its dominant position in the market due to the success of the Android and iOS platforms; the same numbers had fallen to 23 million in March 2016.
Before the drastic fall, Blackberry in 2015, re-focused its business strategy and began to release Android-based smartphones, beginning with the BlackBerry Priv slider and then the BlackBerry DTEK50. By September 2016, BlackBerry announced it would cease designing its own phones in favour of licensing to partners, and then TCL Communication became the global licensee of the brand, under the name “BlackBerry Mobile.”
Under the agreement between the two firms, Canada’s BlackBerry will remain in control of software and security on smartphones, while TCL will produce handsets powered by Google Android software, abandoning the former BlackBerry OS software.
The new Blackberry Key2 will start selling in June 2018 at a price of $649 or 649 euros the company stated.