Can you remember when BlackBerry was one of a few dominant players in the smartphone market? If you can’t, let’s just say its demise was due to a lack of foresight and inability to change with the times. However, now Chinese firm TCL has bought the rights to manufacture smartphones under the BlackBerry brand name in most global markets, and the new BlackBerry Mercury handset has been revealed at CES. Interestingly, it has the QWERTY keyboard BlackBerry was known for.

BlackBerry Mercury: what we know

It goes without saying that the last few BlackBerry handsets we reviewed didn’t do so well because those handsets just weren’t marketed well, even though they tried to reach out to a varied user base. BlackBerry handsets are synonymous with business handsets and for that reason do not appeal to the mass market.

Fast-forward to 2017 and the pre-production model of the BlackBerry Mercury at CES. It seems at first glance that TCL has not learned anything from the handset brand’s past. Long gone are the days when users desired a keyboard to be attached to a handset. After all, touchscreen displays have had keyboards since their inception. That being said, let’s have a closer look at the Mercury to determine what this handset has to offer.

Design

Thanks to those who have had their hands on the pre-production handset, we have a good idea about its design. Of course, if the handset is launched, it may not look and feel exactly like this.

If you’re familiar with previous BlackBerry handsets, the first thing you will notice is its similarity to the Passport. However, unlike the Priv, there’s no sliding display, and it doesn’t have the traditional smartphone shape with a full-faced touch-display. It looks like the silver Passport, but seeing as the BlackBerry Mercury (DTEK70) is an Android handset, it keeps some standard features, such as three capacitive buttons.

The returning keyboard sits below the capacitive keys and features frets which divide each row. This feature is apparently there to help users type and make the keyboard feel more robust. Two additional features are found on the spacebar; it doubles as a home button and is where the fingerprint sensor is located.

Camera

Depending on where you get your information from, there have been conflicting reports about the camera. Some reports suggest an 18-megapixel rear sensor, while others talk about 13MP. However, if you look at the Priv’s camera, it carried an 18MP sensor, the best seen on a BlackBerry. So if this handset is released, there’s no reason to believe TCL will take a backward step with its camera.

Rumors suggest the front camera could be an 8-megapixel sensor. Concerning other features, the pre-production device looked to benefit from an LED flash on the rear.

Specifications

Unfortunately, not much about the BlackBerry Mercury has been released. All there is to go on is rumor and reports from other trusted sources, one of which is Venture Beat. It suggests that the handset will come with the mid-range Snapdragon 625 CPU and a rather underwhelming 32GB of internal storage and 3GB of RAM.

Launch date and price

According to Pocket-Lint, it is expected to be launched before the end of the first quarter of 2017. It’s thought that the Mobile World Congress is the place to be for more details on this.

Rumors suggest a price somewhere in the region of $500. However, that would depend on what the final launch specifications are, as so far it looks like a mid-range handset.

Between now and the start of MWC at the end of February, more rumors will emerge, and we will keep you updated with everything we know. In the meantime, feel free to ask any post any questions you have in the comments section below.