BlackBerry Mercury: All you need to know


After ditching its proprietary OS for Android, BlackBerry has released only one smartphone featuring the brand's staple physical keyboard – the BlackBerry Priv which launched in 2015 to a resounding 'meh'. Now, in partnership with Chinese manufacturer TCL, another Android handset bearing the BlackBerry name and featuring a QWERTY keyboard is poised to hit the market in the form of the BlackBerry Mercury/DTEK70.

While this is simply a code name for the device, we will be sticking to it for now, as it is currently the only officially confirmed moniker for the upcoming phone. We had the chance to take the Mercury for a spin at CES earlier this month, but there is still quite a bit of mystery surrounding the device. There will be more concrete information available as MWC draws in, but for now, here is everything we currently know about the upcoming BlackBerry Mercury/DTEK70:

  • Design


The upcoming BlackBerry Mercury's most prominent design feature is its true-to-brand physical QWERTY keyboard. Unlike the Priv, however, the new phone doesn't feature a slide-out design, meaning that the keyboard can't be hidden and is always at your fingertips. While this will decrease the phone's thickness considerably, especially when compared to the Priv, the four rows of keys will also eat quite a bit of display real estate. Due to this change, the Mercury has a considerably smaller screen that its predecessor – around 4.5 inches against the 5.4 on the Priv.

The backlit QWERTY keyboard also packs a few neat tricks to boot – not that its very existence on the front of a 2017 smartphone isn't surprising in its own right. There is a fingerprint scanner built into the space bar and the entire keyboard acts as a de facto touch pad, allowing you to navigate the UI by swiping over the keys.



As far as built quality goes, the phone's body is primarily made out of metal, with the exception of its back, which is covered in a textured leather-like material that provides a nice grip on the device. The top of the Mercury is completely flat and features everybody's favorite 3.5mm headphone jack, while the bottom is rounded and sports a USB Type-C port and a speaker grill. On the right side you will find the SIM card slot, volume rocker and power button, while on the left is located a neat surprise in the form of a programmable button.

Overall, the Mercury looks bulky, at least when compared to most other smartphones on the market, but stays true to the brands' identity by featuring design choices sure to be appreciated by long-time BB fans. The question is, what about the rest? The QWERTY keyboard will either be a deal-breaker or a killer feature.

  • Hardware



While TCL was happy to share an advanced sneak peek at the at the phone with us at CES, its specs and capabilities are still not public. Previous rumors about the Mercury suggest a 4.5-inch display with a resolution of 1080 x 1680 — decidedly lower than the Priv's 2K resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels — and a rather disappointing Snapdragon 821 at the heart of the device. Given that the Priv packed 3GB of RAM, it's a pretty safe bet that the Mercury will either bump this to either 4 or 6 GB, or come out with the same amount, which would be rather disappointing in its own right. We can't say anything about the cameras on the front and back of the device at this point.

Rumor:

A new rumor suggests that the phone will sport the same excellent main camera as the ones found on the Google Pixel and Pixel XL. That's a 12.3 MP sensor by Sony – the IMX378 to be precise. The sensor has proven itself as very, very capable on the Pixel phones, albeit backed by just as impressive software.

  • Software & user experience


The Mercury will run a near-stock version of Android 7.0 Nougat at launch, while BlackBerry's mobile team will continue to issue security updates, including Google's monthly patches. From what we've seen at CES, the user interface feels very similar to stock, with the exclusion of some proprietary tweaks and pre-installed apps.

User experience

While so many hardware questions remained unanswered, our hands-on time with the BlackBerry Mercury was enough for us to get a better understanding of the software of things. For example, we saw the return of features we got familiar with on the Priv, like BlackBerry's unique grid-based app switcher. But much like the phone's internal components, its software is also something with a bit of mystery surrounding it, and we likely won't have a full sense of what to expect until the Mercury's official launch draws closer.


  • Expectations


The BlackBerry of today is not like the BlackBerry of yesteryear. That much should be clear from the get-go. The mobile landscape too is vastly different from what it was during the company's heyday. If the Priv is anything to go buy, the Mercury will likely not be able to capture the mainstream appeal of BlackBerry's old devices, but maybe that isn't its goal to begin with. The Priv suffered from such problems as finicky GPS and Bluetooth connections, inconsistent call quality, and slowed down quite a bit after only a few months of usage. All of these can be fixed with the Mercury, and if TCL and BlackBerry manage to pull it off, then the phone would have chances of capturing the attention of at least the most hardcore BlackBerry fans out there.

Another consideration crucial to BlackBerry's future is the enterprise sector. If Mercury is to truly succeed, getting it into the hands of corporate IT departments is practically a requirement. Rumors have pointed to Verizon as a possible partner in the US – and like all the other whispers we've heard about this phone, it's one that cannot be confirmed as of yet. That said, our conversations with TCL indicate that the company definitely appreciates the importance of getting on board with a carrier, and one such relationship could definitely help the phone with its corporate ambitions.


Check out our hands-on with the BlackBerry Mercury at CES above and the photo gallery below


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40 Comments

1. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

A 'true' successor to Blackberry Bold & Classic Series... I did wanted an Android Blackberry with a physical keyboard... Something close to a Blackberry Bold... Aye, a long time ago, I used to have a worn-out Blackberry Bold and was looking for its successor; preferably an Android Smartphone with QWERTY Keyboard... I was ALL about physical keyboards back then... I'd write whole E-Mails on that little clicker... Then; Nexus happened...! I still remember how grumpy I was for not able to find a decent Android with a physical keyboard... My friend was using a Samsung Galaxy Ch@t (Aye, "Ch@t" and not "Chat") but it was just too darn slow; the screen was pathetic (compared to my 'Berry) with a PPI of about 120 or so... It was a budget smartphone, whereas I was more interested in a flagship level performance... Oh and... I used to HATE Samsung's Touchwiz then...! (Now I absolutely LOVE it...!) Anyhow, bought my Nexus "Nexy" 5; didn't like its keyboard one single tiny little teeny weeny bit...! But then... It grew on me...! And now, I believe I can type faster on the virtual KB... If not "significantly" faster... Oh well, G'Day!

3. Creep

Posts: 193; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

You talk like an idiot. You and techie need to seek help immediately.

11. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

Are we ever going to achieve internet peace? Like just leave people with whatever they like?

23. miketer

Posts: 520; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

Such comments are not necessary. He's talking about his likes of a phone and itsounds resoundingly good. At least he didn't sound like a fanboy who'll die for a physical keyboard. Come on..... let's all talk.....sense....no bulls**t....and Greenmans comments is no bulls**t. Peace

28. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Some comments are necessary, especially if authors like Milen Y. writes things like "and a rather disappointing Snapdragon 821 at the heart of the device.". How can a SD 821 which was only released to consumers back in November 2016 be disappointing? It's capable of driving a QHD display at a sustainable rate of 60 fps. It's rated at 520 gigaflops, and it's in recently released devices, like the Pixels, Xiaomi Mi 5s, HTC U ultra, Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe, Xiaomi Mi Note 2, OnePlus EAT, and more. Not even the iPhone 7 plus can sustain 60 fps with VR. So when people say stupid things, then they deserve to be taken down a notch.

5. DoggyDangerous

Posts: 1028; Member since: Aug 28, 2015

It is a beautiful phone. Nice executive design. If it has a good camera and sd835 than I will go for it.

16. azimesmail

Posts: 264; Member since: Nov 23, 2014

SD821 will be cool with me. Who am I kidding, I'll buy it even if it comes with a SD625.

20. JC557

Posts: 1919; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

It would last you more than a day if it ships with an SD625 as the Moto Z play can go quite a bit even with heavy usage. Considering it is meant for corporate or full time professionals battery life should be high on the list of importance.

25. miketer

Posts: 520; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

Somehow. I'm smelling a plan here. As of now, hook up with Android and still be relevant in the market. Release phones with Android, virtual kb, and with BB security, slowly jump to an Android phone with physical KB and BB security, let people tinker around with it for a while and then again bring in BB OS. In the meanwhile, a couple of breaches in the servers of some huge multinational Cos. (like what happened in Sony) and....game on

2. Kevinwoo

Posts: 21; Member since: Aug 12, 2016

If they're gonna price this phone equally to other flagship smartphones of 2017,this is definitely be a flop. It would've been a great phone at a budget price but sadly that won't happen.

13. azimesmail

Posts: 264; Member since: Nov 23, 2014

SD821 will be cool with me. Who am I kidding, I'll buy it even if it comes with a SD625.

15. meanestgenius

Posts: 22049; Member since: May 28, 2014

I think that we should wait for the official release of the phone before making any assumptions. A few people jumped the gun thinking that the BlackBerry DTEK60 would be priced too high, and they ended up eating uncooked crow with a dozen eggs on their collective faces because it was priced about $200 less than today's flagships, all while having comparable flagship specs.

17. azimesmail

Posts: 264; Member since: Nov 23, 2014

Why won't it happen? The DTEK50 is $300USD/430CAD w/ a SD617. The DTEK60 is $500USD/650CAD with a SD820. Both very reasonably priced phones.

4. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3106; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

8. meanestgenius

Posts: 22049; Member since: May 28, 2014

Lmao!

6. Subie

Posts: 2364; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

If you want Android and a QWERTY then this will be the option to beat. Looks so premium too. Bravo BB I definitely want one!

33. JC557

Posts: 1919; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

The only thing that has me a bit worried is that the Priv gets quite warm when used for basic tasks like web browsing. Sure the SD 808 played a huge role in that but it took software updates to bring the governor in line so that the entire CPU isn't being pegged constantly. Hopefully they would have thermals locked down before releasing the phone.

7. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

if I ever want to use physical qwerty button.. I want landscape slide-out qwerty keyboard, like xperia pro, or droid 4..

9. meanestgenius

Posts: 22049; Member since: May 28, 2014

The more I see of the BlackBerry Mercury, the more I know that it's going to be my next BlackBerry smartphone!

10. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2363; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I'm not sure the writer of this actually meant this statement "and a rather disappointing Snapdragon 821 at the heart of the device." Why would a Snapdragon 821 be "disappointing" unless they mean if the device came with a Snapdragon 625. While that could be seen as a disappointment for power users, I think the majority of regular day-to-day users will find no hiccups or problems with the processor. As I've said before, the people using this are going to be about productivity and not gaming. Also, personally, I like a little bit of heft and chunkiness to my phone. I think honestly it feels more durable and reliable. Whenever I pick up a really light, thin phone I just feel like I have to be delicate with it, as if I don't want to break it. The question really comes down to price and I'm hoping they market it around the $400 range instead of going above $500.

30. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I know that processor was just released to consumers in November with the Pixels, OnePlus EAT, and others. Plus that SoC can sustain VR graphics at a rate of 60 fps with a QHD display. Not to mention a number of other smartphones are just being released with that SoC. It's rated at 520 gigaflops, so it's no slouch, even the iPhone 7 plus cannot achieve those frame rates, and it doesn't even have a high resolution display.

12. jplightning

Posts: 312; Member since: Nov 04, 2016

Come ta Poppa!

35. Mxyzptlk unregistered

You already said that you were going to get it once before?

36. jplightning

Posts: 312; Member since: Nov 04, 2016

Get off the bozack, yo. It's straight pathetic how ya keep swingin' from it. Ya said that ya gettin' one with ya fake "TheRealGeniusOne" account down there, so stop frontin' like ya ain't.

14. ihearlivepplz

Posts: 80; Member since: Jul 06, 2015

Um, so the SD 821 disappoints on the Mercury but on the LG G6 article PA is totally fine with it cause its still an amazing processor. Also, what would be the point of having QHD like the priv on a 4.5 inch screen? Overkill much? You can't even use the Mercury for VR so 1080x whatever is totes okay.

19. TBomb

Posts: 1484; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I think it was just "disappointing" because it's last years processor. I think it would be "disappointing" for LG too, just different words to explain feelings about it. THe 821 is good, but disappointing that we see it in flagships of 2017 is what I think both articles feel.

21. JC557

Posts: 1919; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

The thing is, going with a last gen processor would mean drivers would be mature and more stable which would be important for Blackberry users.

31. sgodsell

Posts: 7368; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Tbomb do like to show the world how ignorant you really are? Because you are doing a great job of it. The SD 821 was only released to consumers in November 2016. Just in case you didn't know, this is still January. The Pixels came out near the end of November. So it's officially 2 months old. I guess your iPhone 7 or 7 plus is really old now. Besides that, the SD 821 is rated at 520 gigaflops, and can sustain a QHD display using VR at 60 fps. Not even the iPhone 7 plus can get those rates with VR, and the iPhone 7 plus has a lower resolution display to boot.

18. TheRealGeniusOne

Posts: 19; Member since: Dec 02, 2016

This phone is going to be mine. Chen is going to turn BlackBerry around and make it great again.

22. Ultimodrew

Posts: 59; Member since: Aug 14, 2015

I think it will be halfway decent if they don't give it a stupid price tag like what the priv came out with.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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