In brief, the new BlackBerry DTEK range of Android smartphones are genetically modified Alcatel smartphones. By genetically modified, I mean we have the same hardware but the software has been heavily tweaked.
BlackBerry DTEK50: Modified Alcatel Idol 4
Some months back, the BlackBerry DTEK50 was unveiled. It was the company’s second Android-powered smartphone. The first was the Priv, which had a hardware slider keyboard. The DTEK50 has no physical keyboard. As soon as we saw photos of it, it was immediately clear that it was a re-badged Alcatel Idol 4, with some minor hardware differences and extensive software tweaks.
BlackBerry DTEK60: Modified Alcatel Idol 4S
We now have leaked press images of the BlackBerry DTEK60 (German language alert), and by Jove, it is an exact replica of the Alcatel Idol 4S. Screen: check. Camera: check. Fingerprint scanner: check. Stereo speakers: check. Everything checks out. The major difference will be that once again, BlackBerry will heavily modify the OS to make it more secure.
BlackBerry DTEK: A Fit Marriage
Fortunately, Alcatel makes really great hardware for the budget class of phones that they produce. It is easy to see how BlackBerry opted to go with them. BlackBerry has been known for great hardware too. This partnership is a good fit. We recently reviewed the Alcatel Idol 3 (5.5) here on Mobility Arena and did not find it wanting in the hardware department.
The benefits of this BlackBerry-Android-Alcatel partnership are clear: BlackBerry saves cost on hardware design and production. Alcatel sells more phones. Android fans get more options. Everybody – except Apple – wins. Tehehehe.
At this point, it is safe to assume that the only BlackBerry smartphone that BlackBerry itself will design is the flagship. The BlackBerry DTEK range will likely continue to be made up of Alcatel smartphones that have been genetically modified.
The irony. Hours after I published this article, BlackBerry announced an agreement with a newly formed joint venture PT BB Merah Putih to license BlackBerry software and services for the production of handsets for the Indonesian market. The press statement also stated: “It is being led by PT Tiphone Mobile Indonesia Tbk, a leading telecommunication company with the largest distribution network in Indonesia. PT Tiphone is an affiliate of PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk, which is the largest carrier in Indonesia. The JV and its affiliates account for nearly half of the total Indonesian mobile market.”
So, it isn’t only Alcatel that will be making BlackBerry-branded smartphones going forward. But the bigger news is that BlackBerry itself will no longer design and produce any hardware, including the flagship. All hardware is being outsourced. The staement reads: “Under this strategy, we are focusing on software development, including security and applications. The company plans to end all internal hardware development and will outsource that function to partners.”
And so, BlackBerry effectively becomes strictly a software company. The end of an era.