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TCL’s next BlackBerry has a physical keyboard, and that’s basically all we know

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Today’s announcement was somewhat light on details

Ever since BlackBerry signed over the rights to produce BlackBerry-branded phones to Chinese manufacturer TCL, the question has been what the first fully TCL-designed device would look like. Today, we have our answer, with TCL showing off the next Blackberry device, codenamed "Mercury."

Here's what we know:

  • It has a physical keyboard (as TCL’s North American president Steve Cistulli teased earlier in the week).
  • The keyboard has a fingerprint sensor built into the space bar.
  • The keyboard features capacitive-touch technology for scrolling through things, like BlackBerry's old Passport phone.
  • The phone runs Android Nougat, with additional security and business focused software provided by Blackberry (similar to the DTEK50 and DTEK60).
  • It charges via USB-C.
  • It features a metal and rubber exterior that has a pleasantly substantial heft to it.

Here's what we don't know: basically everything else. TCL isn't commenting on almost any detail regarding Mercury, including:

  • Official name
  • Screen size
  • Resolution
  • Camera specs
  • Processor
  • RAM
  • Battery life
  • Price
  • Release date

The company is planning on releasing more information on the new phone at Mobile World Congress in February, but chose to preview the new device now at CES, presumably to start building hype among the BlackBerry faithful.

TCL is hoping to leverage the BlackBerry brand and security features as part of its new strategy for its product portfolio. The company's Alcatel line now is forming the entry-level consumer portion of the market, with TCL hoping that its BlackBerry products will compete with Apple's iOS and Samsung's Knox business security features in corporate markets.

Despite the overall lack of information, I was able to play around with a prototype of the Mercury. And if you're a diehard BlackBerry fan that's been wistfully missing the keyboard, then at least we now know that the Mercury has that going for it.