LAS VEGAS—Verizon is getting its first dual-SIM Android phone, but you may not be able to get it. The BlackBerry Key2 LE is coming to Verizon’s business customers, BlackBerry announced here at CES.
“We started with AT&T last year with the KeyOne. We’re with Sprint now. There are thousands of business customers in the US who are on Verizon, and we’re super happy to make this announcement,” said Francois Mahieu, general manager of BlackBerry Mobile.
It’s a decent step forward for BlackBerry, but one that won’t be available to Verizon consumer customers. That seemed to be okay with Mahieu, who said “Verizon is a big jump” for the company.
The Verizon Key2 LE, arriving “in the coming weeks,” will also be a relatively rare dual-SIM Android phone for Verizon. That lets BlackBerry owners have different work and personal lines in the same handset, or use US and foreign numbers at the same time. The most recent iPhones offer dual-SIM capability, but no Android phones currently sold by Verizon do.
Mahieu said BlackBerry is getting good traction, with “double digit” growth this year, although he acknowledged it’s still a relatively small player. He’s hoping that the growing awareness around security will help the company. While BlackBerrys are now made by TCL, a Chinese firm, their software and verification come through Canada-based BlackBerry Limited.
“When you buy a BlackBerry handset, it is basically hardened and secured by a company, BlackBerry Limited, that has best-in-class credentials,” he said.
BlackBerry didn’t have any new phones to show here at CES; it sounds like we’ll have to wait for Mobile World Congress, the big mobile phone trade show in late February, to see its next handset.
One thing Mahieu did note is that the next BlackBerry won’t be 5G. The new network system, which is currently starting to roll out in the US, needs more global adoption before BlackBerry can jump on board, he said.
“Will we be a very first mover on 5G on BlackBerry handsets? Probably not. Do we see a benefit? Absolutely yes … [but] in 2019, you can expect there won’t be any.”