BlackBerry fans, the time has come for the launch of the next chapter of BlackBerry phones: the device known as “Mercury.” BlackBerry Mobile used a tweet to announce February 25 as the announcement date, which puts it right at the beginning of Mobile World Congress, a huge tech show that overtakes Barcelona each year.
We got a good look at a prefinal version of the Mercury earlier this month, and some time typing on its physical keyboard, a BlackBerry hallmark from way back. With the Mercury, the BlackBerry brand faces an uphill battle as all but its most stalwart fans have turned to other phones. Now it’s up to Tcl, a Chinese company that licenses the BlackBerry name and also operates the Alcatel brand — to make and distribute the BlackBerry hardware.
BlackBerry itself remains as a software entity that works with TCL to add its distinct custom layer over Android software. Right now, TCL has ambition plans to build out a BlackBerry portfolio of devices that span the high-end to more affordable, entry-level phone, and the Mercury (we’ll soon find out its official name) is the tip of the spear.
The brand isn’t alone in its ambitions to reignite some glory from its heyday. Nokia Mobile (another confusing name-licensing situation operated by HMD) will also use the giant Mobile World Congress show to globally announce its Nokia 6, a phone currently sold only in China.
But that brand is taking a different tack. Although the first Nokia phone of this generation will also run on Android, the Nokia 6 is very much a low-cost phone, a foil to the BlackBerry Mercury’s high-end ambitions. It’ll be interesting to see which of the two resonates better with buyers when they both hit store shelves.