Mercury rising? New BlackBerry Android phone with QWERTY keyboard quietly confirmed

While it’s no longer building its own phones, the once iconic BlackBerry brand isn’t dead yet. At CES 2017, it quietly announced a brand new smartphone, complete with a QWERTY keyboard – and it’s going to run Android to boot.

Following in the footsteps of the (really rather good) DTEK60 and (not totally rubbish) DTEK50, the next BlackBerry is built by Alcatel’s parent company TCL. But this is the most BlackBerry-esque phone we’ve seen in years, even though it doesn’t have an official name yet and is still at the prototype stage.

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The biggest addition is the physical QWERTY keyboard, which sits below an unknown display. If you remember the BlackBerry Bold and Curve, this keyboard will be a blast from the past. There are still your typical soft keys too, and these will sit just above keyboard.

Having a full physical keyboard certainly makes this a long phone, but it’s nowhere near as odd as the BlackBerry Passport and the keyboard isn’t tucked away like it was on the BlackBerry Priv.

The keyboard, rather than the specs, is probably the biggest selling point here, as it doesn’t seem like TLC has confirmed what internals will drive the Mercury.

A Snapdragon 625 processor has been rumoured, along with 3GB RAM and an 18-megapixel camera on the back. A 3,400mAh battery has also been touted, which would make this a bit of an endurance champion, but we’ll have to wait to see what actually happens.

Like the previous entries in the DTEK series, the software here is all about privacy and security. Along with a locked bootloader, the rather slick BlackBerry UI that’s placed atop Android 7 features a DTEK app for determining how well protected your device is – and then gives you tips on how to improve your security.

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Based on what we know, the Mercury (or whatever it’s eventually called) seems unlikely to be a purely consumer device, but there’s always a certain amount of nostalgia with this form-factor. BlackBerry’s recent phones have been a good mix of security and well designed software, and if the keyboard is as good as it used to be, then this could be the perfect phone for someone.

Hopefully we’ll hear more about specs, a price and release date at MWC next month.

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Are you looking forward to the BlackBerry ‘Mercury’ Android phone? Let us know in the comments below.

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