If you were someone who liked the recent BlackBerry Key smartphones and were hoping for something new, there’s some bad news today.
While there’s a strong likelihood of new phones being announced at Mobile World Congress in Spain in the coming weeks, it seems a new BlackBerry from TCL or Alcatel is probably not going to be one of them.
BlackBerry announced on Twitter this week that TCL’s brand licensing agreement with BlackBerry will officially end this year, and from August 31, 2020, “TCL Communication will no longer be selling BlackBerry-branded mobile devices”.
“TCL Communication has no further rights to design, manufacture or sell any new BlackBerry mobile devices, however TCL Communication will continue to provide support for the existing portfolio of mobile devices including customer service and warranty service until August 31, 2022 – or for as long as required by local laws where the mobile device was purchased,” a statement by BlackBerry released to Twitter said.
That likely means no BlackBerry Key3 or Key3 LE will be on the cards, at least as far as either TCL or the TCL-owned Alcatel are concerned, which also probably means its take on the revised take on the BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard is probably gone, too.
Last year where we reviewed the BlackBerry Key2, we were surprised that the keyboard wasn’t as strong as it had typically been in BlackBerry experiences, with a more cramped and poorly spaced approach to the Key2 keyboard, and not the more thought out keyboards that BlackBerry phones tend to arrive with.
While it’s possible that might have played into the decision, it’s also possible that the licensing agreement had just run its course, and BlackBerry was now shopping for new partners, with Mobile World Congress a possible venue for the company to show them off.
TCL does have some interesting phones on the way for both its Alcatel and TCL arms, and the company used CES 2020 as a way to show some of that off, something we went hands-on with only a few weeks ago. However, this week has already started off with a bit of departures, after Panasonic announced it was leaving the TV business in Australia, only to be followed within 24 hours that BlackBerry was ending its agreement with TCL. What could be next?
We’ve reached out to the local arm of TCL Communications for a comment, and will update this story when we have anything more.