Fresh images on Chinese social media site Weibo have surfaced of an Android phone with a QWERTY keypad. The post claims that this could be the new BlackBerry Android phone scheduled for release in 2017.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen had confirmed last month that his company is working on a smartphone with a physical QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard has been known as one of BlackBerry's best-known features, with several former users still wishing for non-touchscreen smartphones.
"We have one keyboard phone I promised people, and its coming," Chen had told Bloomberg.
The model will be unique as no major smartphone manufacturer is making devices with keypads anymore. Even the last two models released by BlackBerry itself, the DTEK50 and DTEK60 were touchscreen Android-based smartphones.
Apart from the photos, there are no additional details on what the phone will be like. One of the photos show the phone has two round camera-like modules. While the one on the left clearly looks like a camera, the one on the right is not clear and could be a front flash as well.
BlackBerry, once a market leader, especially in the enterprise category, has struggled to keep pace with modern handsets produced by rivals such as Apple and Samsung and has gradually shifted from smartphones to software. The company had declared in September that it would completely stop producing, stocking and distributing its own phones. Instead, it will license the BlackBerry brand to other manufacturers to put on phones they build.