BlackBerry Mercury

Ahead of CES 2017, TCL teased that they would be offering a look at the first device to come out of their smartphone software and brand licensing deal with BlackBerry and they've now made good on that, though, they're keeping a lot of the finer details surrounding the phone secret for just a bit longer.

More of an introduction than a full announcement

So secret, in fact, that despite having some hands-on time with the device better known as Mercury, we can't actually confirm that that is the go-to-market name as it has only been referred to as "the phone everyone has been calling Mercury" nor have any of the broader specs, pricing or even when it will be released been confirmed other than to say we'll hear more "around the Mobile World Congress timeframe next month."

For those of you out there who have been following BlackBerry for a long time, you might find this introduction similar to when BlackBerry showed off the Priv for the first time. At the time it was introduced, BlackBerry didn't confirm any details then either. Perhaps that makes this introduction seem, fitting in a way given the similarities between what we now know as the Priv and the Mercury.

Sticking to what we know about the phone, what we're looking at here is a solid metal device that features a full-on BlackBerry-style hardware keyboard similar to the one on the BlackBerry Priv but with one extra trick – a fingerprint sensor in the spacebar. On the back is where you'll find a nice, dimpled soft-touch backing as well as a rounded housing for the camera module. Keeping in line with the introduction of USB-C into the BlackBerry world on the DTEK60, the Mercury is also equipped with USB-C.

When it comes to the flavor of Android the Mercury is running, things once again get a little cloudy. Right now, the units are running Android 7.0 Nougat with no clear commitment being made on whether or not come launch they would be running 7.0 or 7.1. As expected, though, everything right now falls in line with what is currently running on the Priv, DTEK50, and DTEK60 in regards to the BlackBerry specific software. That is to say, every addition to Android that BlackBerry has made thus far will be present here.

It's pretty clear TCL is excited about their deal with BlackBerry

It's pretty clear TCL is excited about their deal with BlackBerry and wanted to show off what they're working on at CES 2017 but the lack of full-on details here means we still have a bit of a wait to go yet before anyone is going to be able to pick one up to call their own. How much of a wait? Well, Mobile World Congress kicks off in Barcelona on February 27.

Luckily, we have some pretty awesome photos in our BlackBerry Mercury hands-on that you can take in until then. Plus, we can have some fun. Let's play the 'what will they call it?' game. Let us know what you think they will call it in the comments. Personally, I think not announcing a name means it'll be branded Mercury forever whether they want it to be or not but we'll see.

Press Release:

TCL COMMUNICATION (TCT) UNVEILS THE FUTURE OF THE NEW BLACKBERRY MOBILE AS PART THE COMPANY'S PRODUCT PORTFOLIO EVOLUTION UNVEILED AT CES 2017

Expanded TCL Communication portfolio takes an industry-first approach to addressing the new mobility market

LAS VEGAS – January 4, 2017 – At CES 2017, TCL Communication Technology Holdings Limited (TCT), the fourth-largest handset manufacturer in North America, is today sharing plans for an industry-first brand portfolio business model, which now enables the company to offer an entire suite of mobility products, including new BlackBerry smartphones. This brand pillar approach focuses on multiple facets of the company's product portfolio: the entry-consumer, best-in-class enterprise, connected (IoT) and emerging segments – all leveraging the success of the TCL Communication manufacturing, R&D and operations along with the legacy of some of the industry's most iconic brands, including Alcatel and BlackBerry.

"Our industry is in the midst of an evolution, where consumers are now demanding greater functionality and value from their mobile devices than ever before," said Steve Cistulli, President and General Manager for TCL Communication (TCT), North America. "To meet these growing demands, both carriers and retailers need a more diverse product offering, requiring portfolio efficiencies that were previously unavailable from a single manufacturer – until now. We're boldly evolving our business, offering end-to-end efficiencies from sales, through R&D, manufacturing and logistics. This business evolution will provide greater value to our customers in the premium post- paid and affordable no-contract tiers."

Offering carriers and retailers exceptional quality and value, backed by TCL's world-class R&D and manufacturing capabilities, the TCL Communication portfolio will be anchored by the Alcatel and BlackBerry handset brands while continuing to evolve in 2017. This will include additional mobility offerings to be announced in the first half of the year that will allow the company to further address consumer demands. Among the first products in this portfolio is the latest BlackBerry smartphone, focused on three core features: security, productivity and reliability. Previewed at CES, the smartphone draws on unparalleled mobile security and software expertise to offer the most complete end-to-end smartphone security available on Android.

"We look forward to unveiling details around this distinctly different and impressively designed BlackBerry smartphone around the Mobile World Congress timeframe next month," continued Cistulli.

For more information about TCL Communication (TCT), please visit www.TCTUSA.com.

About TCL Communication

TCL Communication Technology Holdings Limited (TCT) with its North America headquarters based in Irvine, California, is a wholly owned company of TCL Corporation, a global consumer electronics brand with products currently sold in over 160 countries throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. With a mobile handset product portfolio that includes devices from Alcatel and BlackBerry, TCT is currently the fourth largest handset manufacturer in North America. The company also operates nine R&D centers worldwide and employs over 13,500 people globally. For more information, please visit www.TCTUSA.com.

TCL is a registered trademark of TCL Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Alcatel is a trademark of Alcatel-Lucent used under license by TCL Communication.

BlackBerry and related trademarks, names and logos are the property of BlackBerry Limited and are registered and/or used in the U.S. and countries around the world. All other marks are the property of their respective owners. BlackBerry is not responsible for any third-party products or services.