After trying several hardware comebacks these past few years, BlackBerry may have finally found its groove in a mobile industry that looks nothing like the market the Canadian company used to dominate not so long ago.
But the KEYone is of course the beginning of a new TCL-controlled era, with the famous (and infamous) BlackBerry brand licensed out to the rising Chinese smartphone manufacturer for unrestricted use on products often strongly resembling budget-friendly Alcatels.
Unsurprisingly though still disappointingly, it seems all BB devices released prior to the KEYone will be left in software limbo. That includes the Priv hybrid, which was the last in-house-designed BlackBerry to see daylight a couple of years ago.
Running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out the box back in fall of 2015, the QWERTY keyboard/5.4-inch touchscreen phone received official Marshmallow goodies in spring of 2016. Since then, it’s been all quiet on the major update front, with only regular security patches rolled out.
Android Nougat has even been replaced with Oreo as the platform’s flavor of the day, but Alex Thurber is at long last ready to tackle our worst nightmare head-on. There are no Nougat treats in the pipeline for BlackBerry Priv owners, let alone Oreos, according to the GM of BlackBerry Mobility Solutions, who claims the “amount of work required to get all the partners together behind such an update” is simply unsustainable.
Meanwhile, there’s still a little hope for the DTEK50 and 60 “TCL reference designs”, though you probably shouldn’t hold your breath. Newer than the Priv, the two actually launched with Android 6.0 Marshmallow pre-loaded, so they’re yet to get a single big OS upgrade. For what it’s worth, the KEYone will definitely move up from Nougat to Oreo… someday.