Since its RIM heyday, BlackBerry has fallen far, and is no longer a major player in the mobile handset market. Despite a variety of setbacks, however, BlackBerry recently revealed plans to move forward with Android-based phones, releasing the BlackBerry Priv in 2015.
According to VentureBeat’s Evan Blass, this week a source familiar with the company’s plans says that three more Android devices are on the way by the beginning of 2017, including another phone with a physical keyboard.
The codenames for the three devices are interesting to me (I studied chemistry in school), since they are also the names of chemical elements, though any insight that could be gained attempting to decipher these names is minimal. To the engineering chemists at BlackBerry though, the codenames do seem to accurately reflect the phones’ relative similarities when compared to a periodic table.
The phones are named “Neon,” “Argon,” and “Mercury,” and aim to hit the complete range of characteristics smartphone owners could be looking for. Neon is purportedly a low to mid-range phone with a 5.2-inch screen, 13 and 8 megapixel cameras on the front and back, and no keyboard, set for release in July or August. The Argon is a higher-end device, with a 5.5-inch screen, fingerprint reader, and a 21 megapixel rear camera, with availability set for sometime in October.
Finally, the odd one out, Mercury, looks a lot more like BlackBerry’s past devices. It includes a physical keyboard, 4.5-inch display, and an 18 megapixel rear camera. Unlike the Priv, BlackBerry’s last Android device, however, Mercury’s keyboard is not concealable, which makes it resemble the BlackBerry Passport. This device won’t be ready until early 2017.
It remains to be seen if any or all of these devices can resuscitate BlackBerry’s struggling hardware business, but the company does still have a devout fanbase, and Android users looking for a built-in keyboard don’t exactly have many options.