Business Technology

Saturday 17 March 2018

Adrian Weckler: Back to the future as Nokia and BlackBerry stage comeback

BlackBerry KeyONE
BlackBerry KeyONE

Adrian Weckler in Barcelona

IT FEELS like the mobile equivalent of Back To The Future.

So far, the big story from the biggest mobile trade show in the world has been the return of BlackBerry and Nokia.

Remember them? Both dominated the world's phone industry back in the 90s and 2000s.

BlackBerry was nicknamed 'CrackBerry' because of its always-present email service got people addicted. Nokia, meanwhile, got the world into SMS texting.

Both companies were effectively killed off with the arrival of the iPhone and Android smartphones.

But now they have have staged a spirited comeback.

BlackBerry KeyONE
BlackBerry KeyONE

BlackBerry has unveiled the OneKEY, a 4.5-inch Android touchscreen phone with a full Qwerty physical keyboard tucked in underneath. All of its 52 physical keyboard buttons can be programmed as shortcuts to launch applications such as Facebook or Twitter. It has a 12-megapixel main camera and a larger-than-average battery (3,505mAh). Its touchscreen is 'full HD' (1620x1080).

Nokia, meanwhile, has a mixture of the old and the new. It's releasing a handful of mid-range Android touchscreen phones, anchored by the 5.5-inch Nokia 6. But it's also giving the world a new version of the bullet-proof 3310 button-phone that dominated the world's cellular communications for so long. Forget about 4K video or 20-megapixel cameras -- this will feature 'Snake' and a battery that will last for days.

These aren't the only phone launches from Mobile World Congress 2017. Huawei is expected to launch its P10 model on Sunday afternoon, while Sony is also expected to launch phones at the show on Monday. Despite planning a big event on Sunday evening, Samsung is not expected to launch any major new phones such as the upcoming Galaxy S8.

Because Mobile World Congress is such a giant conference -- over 100,000 trade executives are expected -- there are lots of Irish companies at the event hoping to pick up some business.

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