CES 2017 has been full of surprises so far, and the latest came this Wednesday with the comeback of the BlackBerry. TCL’s American subsidiary TCT unveiled a new prototype codenamed ‘Mercury’ during a closed-press event at the Las Vegas show.
What’s even more surprising is the new smartphone goes back to its roots by including BlackBerry’s signature QWERTY keyboard. It runs on Android, and more details will come at the Mobile World Congress in late February.
Reviving the BlackBerry device is not TCL’s only endeavor at this year’s CES since it has also presented a new lineup of 4K, HDR Roku TVs. The P Series ranges from 50 to 65 inches, and they carry attractive price tags as low as $500.
TCL’s BlackBerry Mercury: what we know so far
Enjoy our official first look at what’s to come from the newest BlackBerry smartphone. More to come at MWC. pic.twitter.com/gHkwepCPbJ
— Steve Cistulli (@SteveCistulli) January 4, 2017
While TCL’s presentation seemed to be focused on getting everyone pumped about the future of the company, the company failed to address what people wanted to know: the BlackBerry Mercury’s specs and details.
Tech press with access to the event got a hands-on experience with the new BlackBerry by TCL. Technical specs remain in the realm of speculation, but people got a close enough look at the phone to draw some initial conclusions.
First off, the Mercury seems to run on near-stock Android 7.0 Nougat, as the software runs smoothly at a glimpse and doesn’t look too bloated with BlackBerry signature apps.
The apps it does include, however, rely on TCL’s “core features” of a BlackBerry phone: security, productivity, and reliability. With this in mind, the prototype presented at CES comes with the signature BBM messenger, DTEK by BlackBerry, and BlackBerry Hub.
Hardware-wise, the Mercury’s dimensions are smaller by today’s standards, with the phone reportedly measuring under 5.5 inches and having a relatively little touch display. Rumors suggest resolutions of 1680 x 1080 on TCL’s BlackBerry.
The reason for this is, of course, the physical QWERTY keyboard. Taking approximately a third of the space on the device, the classic BlackBerry keyboard compensates with support for touch gestures and a fingerprint sensor on the space key.
Furthermore, the latest attempt to bring BlackBerries back to life includes a popular feature of the brand in its customizable Convenience Key, located on the side of the handset.
Other than that, TCL’s BlackBerry Mercury has a rear camera with dual LEDs, a selfie camera, a headphone jack at the top, a USB-C port for connectivity, a pair of speakers at the bottom, and a soft texture back with the iconic logo.
No word on battery life or actual performance yet, but it is expected to be decent since the phone is thicker than today’s high-end flagships from competing Android manufacturers.
TCL has vowed to roll out security updates on its new BlackBerry faster than other companies, and it will hopefully unveil a full specs sheet including price and release date of the Mercury at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain this February 27.