The BlackBerry brand continues to struggle against giants like Apple and Samsung and growing Chinese brands such as Huawei. However, it isn’t dead yet, as is clearly evident from the expected release of more BlackBerry-branded handsets. The BlackBerry Uni will likely be the next handset from TCL to carry the brand, and BlackBerry fans might not have very long to wait.
The Uni name comes from a trademark request filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by TCL, which is licensing the BlackBerry brand. Let’s Go Digital reports that the handset maker filed for the KeyOne trademark in the days leading up to the Mobile World Congress.
Given that this year’s MWC is coming up 10 days from now, the timing of the trademark filing does suggest that we’ll see a phone called the BlackBerry Uni this year. It’s believed that the BlackBerry Uni will be the official name for the phone that’s otherwise referred to as BBF100 for now. Of course, there’s also the possibility that the trademark filing is for a phone that will be sold under the Alcatel brand, which TCL also sells, making the phone the Alcatel Uni rather than the BlackBerry Uni.
The following is our rough coverage of the 2021 Sohn Investment Conference, which is being held virtually and features Brad Gerstner, Bill Gurley, Octahedron's Ram Parameswaran, Glenernie's Andrew Nunneley, and Lux's Josh Wolfe. Q1 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Keep checking back as we will be updating this post as the conference goes Read More
However, we do have reason to believe that the Uni will be a BlackBerry-branded phone, based on the potential designs we are seeing. Apparently, BlackBerry applied for a patent in 2016 through the World Intellectual Property Organization for a phone that has a retractable keyboard, but that patent was just published recently. Because BlackBerry is known for its keyboards and has made phones with retractable keyboards in the past, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another phone with this design under the brand.
The phone described in the patent features a rear-facing camera that’s located in the front of the housing. The back side of the housing has a second lens, which Let’s Go Digital explains is called a conversion lens, and it also holds the retractable keyboard. When the phone’s keyboard is out, there’s just a standard camera, but then when it is retracted, the conversion lens comes into play. The patent offers several suggestions for different kinds of conversion lenses, including wide-angle, zoom, macro or fisheye.
It also suggests that the BlackBerry Uni will have a curved 5.4-inch display and be very similar to the BlackBerry Priv in design. It’s expected that the phone will come with Android 8.0 out of the box, although it’s possible that 8.1 will be ready by the time the phone launches. It’s also guarantee that the phone will include the company’s popular productivity software suite.
As far as other specs go, details are still limited, although there was a Geekbench test conducted last year which pointed to a BlackBerry-branded handset that runs on Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 660 processor and 6GB of RAM.
It’s quite possible that the BlackBerry Uni will be revealed at the Mobile World Congress, which is set for Feb. 26 through March 1 in Barcelona, Spain. However, Let’s Go Digital adds that there seem to be two different BlackBerry-branded handsets in development right now, so the details are still rather unclear.