Two new BlackBerry smartphones are in the works and are codenamed "Juno" and "Krypton," one industry insider said on Tuesday. No further details have been provided by the source, though it's likely that the upcoming devices are made by TCL Communication, a Huizhou, China-based original design manufacturer (ODM) that recently acquired a license to make and sell BlackBerry-branded handsets. While the Canadian tech giant isn't exclusively licensing its brand to the Chinese company — having recently started collaborating with BB Merah Putih in Indonesia — the codenames of the upcoming devices are similar to TCL's recent naming practices; e.g. the BlackBerry KEYone was reportedly referred to as "Mercury" within the firm's ranks. On the other hand, the aforementioned Indonesian company recently launched the BlackBerry Aurora, so the sole fact that the upcoming devices are (code)named after celestial bodies doesn't necessarily confirm that they're being handled by TCL.
The Waterloo, Canada-based tech company had a dramatical product strategy shift in recent months which was prompted by years of disappointing financial performance caused by its struggling smartphone unit. BlackBerry wasn't quick to adopt the Android operating system like many other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were and ended up pouring massive resources into its own BlackBerry OS and its ecosystem, which ended up being a decision that didn't resonate with consumers. That state of affairs led the firm to accumulate significant losses in recent times and prompted it to ultimately abandon any in-house hardware ambitions even after eventually switching to Android.
Despite the fact that BlackBerry isn't making first-party smartphones any longer, the company is still involved with their development to a degree, especially in terms of design and software. It's hence likely to contribute to the creation of Juno and Krypton, whatever those two devices ultimately end up being. With the KEYone having just hit the market last month, it's unlikely that another BlackBerry-branded device with a physical QWERTY keyboard will be released anytime soon, though that isn't to say there's no chance of consumers being surprised; after all, many fans of the brand have been calling for an Android-powered revision of the BlackBerry Passport for over three years now and TCL or another ODM might finally decide to listen.