Smartphone maker BlackBerry on Tuesday announced a licensing partnership with Texas-based OnwardMobility and Foxconn-subsidiary FIH Mobile, to deliver a new 5G BlackBerry Android smartphone with a physical keyboard in North America and Europe in the first half of 2021. 

In February this year, Chinese electronics group TCL and BlackBerry had confirmed that they had parted ways putting an end on the manufacturing of BlackBerry devices. 

For those unaware, in 2016, BlackBerry stopped manufacturing its own phones and had licensed its brand to TCL. Their partnership which is set to expire by August 31st this year has paved the way for OnwardMobility to step in. 

“BlackBerry is thrilled OnwardMobility will deliver a BlackBerry 5G smartphone device with physical keyboard, leveraging our high standards of trust and security synonymous with our brand. We are excited that customers will experience the enterprise and government level security and mobile productivity the new BlackBerry 5G smartphone will offer,” John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO, BlackBerry said in a statement as part of the announcement. 

The upcoming BlackBerry 5G smartphones are said to be different from those manufactured by TCL and claimed to be secure and “enable productivity, without sacrificing the user experience”.

“BlackBerry smartphones are known for protecting communications, privacy, and data. This is an incredible opportunity for OnwardMobility to bring next-generation 5G devices to market with the backing of BlackBerry and FIH Mobile,” said Peter Franklin, CEO of OnwardMobility.

Franklin added that the deal would “deliver a new 5G Android BlackBerry smartphone with a physical keyboard.”

Under the terms of the agreement, BlackBerry grants OnwardMobility the right to develop, engineer, and bring to market a BlackBerry 5G smartphone. It will conduct product planning and market development for BlackBerry smartphones in North America.

On the other hand, FIH Mobile, a subsidiary Taiwan-based Foxconn, will design and manufacture the devices under BlackBerry’s strict guidelines to ensure component, device and supply chain integrity.

“As an exclusive supplier to OnwardMobility, we’re committed to delivering new BlackBerry 5G devices to market, utilizing our deep expertise in design, manufacturing, component supply, and logistics management,” said Dr Wen-Yi Kuo, Executive Director, FIH Mobile.

No other details, such as screen size or internal specs, have provided about the device other than it having support for 5G. It is unclear if this will be a flagship device or just another mid-range smartphone.

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