A little over a week ago, news came out that crushed the hopes and dreams of BlackBerry fans
who had been waiting during all of 2021 for a company called OnwardMobility to announce the first 5G BlackBerry. OnwardMobility had teamed up with Foxconn’s FIH Mobile Limited and had announced in August 2020 that a 5G ‘Berry with a physical QWERTY was coming in 2021.
OnwardMobility confirms the death of its 5G BlackBerry
But after no new phone was unveiled last year, BlackBerry decided to pull the license it had granted OnwardMobility which killed the deal. And when BlackBerry sold off the remainder of its mobile patents
for $600 million, the “Game Over” light was flashing red; BlackBerry was no longer interested in licensing its name and patents to build smartphones.
OnwardMobility makes it official. It will not produce a 5G BlackBerry
Today, Onward Mobility
posted a statement on its website that makes it clear that the 5G BlackBerry is dead. The company wrote, “We want to thank you all for the tremendous amount of support that you have given us since we first launched OnwardMobility. However, it is with great sadness that we announce that OnwardMobility will be shutting down, and we will no longer be proceeding with the development of an ultra-secure smartphone with a physical keyboard.”
OnwardMobility added, “Please know that this was not a decision that we made lightly or in haste. We share your disappointment in this news and assure you this is not the outcome we worked and hoped for. We are incredibly grateful to the team of seasoned professionals who worked tirelessly on this project and to each and every one of our loyal fans and partners who have supported us throughout this journey.”
One of the pioneers in the early days of the smartphone, BlackBerry failed to keep pace with the changes that took place in the industry that occurred when the late Steve Jobs introduced the touchscreen Apple iPhone in January 2007. Additionally, the BlackBerry OS was originally developed for non-touchscreen phones and had an app store that looked like your supermarket the day before a hurricane is supposed to hit.
TCL produced three BlackBerry models before its license expired early in February 2020. The BlackBerry KEYone appeared, at first blush, to be a step in the right direction and the KEY2 was even better. The two models featured a physical keyboard with the fingerprint scanner integrated with the space bar.
Battery life was outstanding and with Android running the show, users were able to load their favorite apps. The last phone that TCL made under its license with BlackBerry was the KEY2 LE, a less expensive and stripped-down version of the KEY2.
If a physical keyboard is important to you, a company called Unihertz produced an Android-powered handset called the Titan
that resembles the BlackBerry Passport. The phone sports a 4.6-inch LCD display with a resolution of 1440 x 1440. It carries a 6000mAh battery and is equipped with 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage.
If the form factor is a bit big for your hands, Unihertz offers the Titan Pocket
which runs on Android 11 and features a smaller 3.1-inch display and a 4000mAh battery. It is 30% lighter than the Titan and is priced under $300.
With the decision made by BlackBerry to revoke OnwardMobility’s license, it is apparent that BlackBerry has completely divorced itself from the smartphone industry. So don’t expect to see that 5G BlackBerry you were hoping for. If you want a phone with a physical keyboard, you can look at one of the two Titan models from Unihertz, or you might consider a new or previously used BlackBerry KEY2, both of which you can find on eBay.