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More BlackBerry phones beyond the Mercury might feature QWERTY keyboards

BlackBerry promised one last phone with a physical keyboard. But the company taking over BlackBerry hardware production is still tweeting about QWERTY...

Published onDecember 17, 2016

A quick recap: BlackBerry CEO John Chen promised one last “in-house” BlackBerry phone with a QWERTY keyboard in 2016. BlackBerry’s last QWERTY phone is rumored to be the BlackBerry Mercury. But BlackBerry recently sold its branding rights to TCL, with most folks understanding Chen’s remarks to mean BlackBerry devices under TCL wouldn’t have QWERTY keyboards. So why is a TCL exec tweeting about revolutionary QWERTY keyboards on “the new BlackBerry”?

BlackBerry's signature keyboard to be given one last hurrah

Steve Cistulli, president and general manager of TCL in North America, tweeted yesterday with the hashtag #TheNewBlackBerry and a reference to a revolutionary typewriter from 1878 that introduced the Shift key to the QWERTY keyboard. It was a big deal at the time and had far-reaching implications we still appreciate today. But if TCL plans to ditch QWERTY keyboards in its 2017 BlackBerry phones, why would its president be tweeting such misleading information?

Remington No. 2 of 1878 #TheNewBlackBerry
— Steve Cistulli (@SteveCistulli) December 16, 2016

While no one ever actually came out and officially said the QWERTY keyboard was going bye-bye under TCL, you could be forgiven for making that assumption. Both BlackBerry Android phones we’ve seen this year – the DTEK60 and DTEK50 – have been rebranded phones made by TCL: the TCL 950 and Alcatel Idol 4. Neither of them have a physical keyboard.

But then again, the Remington 2 was important not so much for its QWERTY keyboard, which had already been introduced on the Remington 1, but for adding the Shift key to it – massively popularizing the product.

So could it be possible that TCL has something else in mind rather than just continuing to include a physical keyboard on BlackBerry phones? Something potentially as revolutionary as the introduction of the Shift key?

Only time will tell, but for now our fingers are itching to find out how we’ll be typing on BlackBerry phones in 2017. TCL will be revealing more details at CES 2017. Stay tuned.

Would you like to see more physical keyboards on Android phones? Any ideas what else Cistulli’s tweet might mean?