BlackBerry's next Android phone to sport QWERTY keyboard

DTEK60 was expected to be the last of BlackBerry's smartphones featuring physical keyboard, but it is now clear that BlackBerry will be launching yet another such phone at CES very soon.

TCL's GM and President 'leaked' BlackBerry's upcoming smartphone via a tweet earlier today.

BlackBerry says it will outsource development of future phones

Earlier today, Steve Cistulli, President & GM of TCL Communication in North America, tweeted a four second video of a new BlackBerry smartphone featuring a physical keyboard which will launch at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas shortly. In his tweet, Cistulli highlighted the word 'PRESS' in capital letters which suggests that the upcoming phone could be named as such. TCL now holds the license to manufacture BlackBerry-designed smartphones so there couldn't be a stronger confirmation on BlackBerry sticking to physical keyboards in the short run.

Cistulli refrained from revealing anything further on the upcoming phone and so far, we haven't heard about it from any other source so it seems we will have to wait for the actual launch to let you know more about the phone. Back in December, images of a BlackBerry phone code-named Mercury were leaked online and it is possible that PRESS could be the Mercury we talked about then.

BlackBerry's Mercury with QWERTY keyboard and Android OS confirmed!

As per leaked images, Mercury was to arrive featuring a 3:2 aspect display screen as well as a physical keyboard, but not a slide-out one like in the Priv. According to First Post, the phone will arrive with a 4.5-inch display, 32GB of storage, 3GB of RAM, a 2GHz Qualcomm processor and 18-MP front and rear cameras. The leaked specifications do suggest that it could be a low-cost Android phone but the tiny display does raise questions on if it will be able to grab enough eyeballs or even get noticed in the first place.

Last year, BlackBerry CEO John Chen told BNN that even after handset manufacturing is outsourced, the company's iconic physical QWERTY keyboard will 'continue on' and that the company will license the manufacturing rights of QWERTY keyboards to its partners. This meant that no matter who manufactured BlackBerry devices, the QWERTY keyboard will continue to live on. With Cistulli's revelation, we are now sure that BlackBerry intends to keep the physical keyboard cycle running but given that significant sales are still elusive, it will be interesting to see how long the company would want to stick to the concept.

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