Hands on with the BlackBerry ‘Mercury’ at CES 2017

Amongst a couple other phones that surfaced at CES, the BlackBerry Mercury was easily the most exciting — and it isn’t even finished. Specs aren’t final and we can’t wait to get our hands on it for a full review after the official release. But for now, here are a few things we learned about it during our trip to CES 2017.

First off, the Mercury looks really good. Somehow, in the tech world where physical keyboards are looked down upon, this phone is doing a good job of pushing that aside, much like with the previous Blackberry. The very first thing you’ll notice is that the keyboard on the Mercury is always extended. In fact, it can’t be hidden inside the phone. Though some may think this takes away from the ingenuity, I kind of like it. Having the feedback of a real keyboard can bring you back to the good old days. In fact, I can’t stand virtual keyboards without vibration feedback on a phone.



We really don’t know anything about the software. We do know that it won’t be outdated, with Android Nougat already running on this early unit and TCL confirming it would launch with up to date software. It’ll also have all the standard BlackBerry security features and apps set in place by previous BlackBerry phones. Specs on the device are also kept extremely quiet due to the fact it’s not fully fleshed out — we couldn’t even open the settings. We would imagine that certain undisclosed features will be added, but are only hidden for reasons related to keeping the hype up.

As far as hardware goes, we did get a briefing on some of the coolest things. First off, the spacebar holds a fingerprint sensor for added security and for easier access. The sensor is a thin one much like the sensors of Galaxy phones, but it’s in a nice place and doesn’t take away from the look.

Since the keyboard is physical, a small issue some might find is that one-handed typing might be near impossible. Have no fear!  We’ve heard swipe typing will be available and integrated into the Mercury keyboard so you don’t have to always hold it with two hands. That’s an ingenious addition if you ask me.

Other features that lie within the keyboard is the sensor built into the keys, allowing swiping across the home screen and scrolling in numerous apps. This was introduced with the Priv and is a welcome addition. 

The Mercury also has USB-C, a nice upgrade from the Priv and a welcome addition as we start 2017.

Overall, this phone looks promising in many aspects and we did like what we saw. Let us know what you think in the comments below, because we’re pretty excited. What other features might be included? We’d love to know your thoughts.

Remember that the Mercury won’t actually be officially announced until MWC in a few weeks. At that time, all suspicions will be cleared and we’ll learn the actual name since “Mercury” isn’t it. 

  • There are good reasons why virtual keyboards dominate. I hope Blackberry can survive catering to a tiny percentage of people who prefer paying the price associated with a phone that has a physical keyboard.

  • Virtual keyboards can be updated on the fly, can change their layout for different purposes, be swapped out all together, and dismissed for viewing the entire screen when not needed. They might not offer the tactility of a hardware keyboard, but they’re far more flexible.