The ailing Canadian manufacturer is expected to bring back the “belt” of four physical keys, with a trackpad in the middle in a bid to appeal to former loyalists.

Blackberry money BlackBerry function keys reportedly set to make a return

BlackBerry may have replaced trackballs with trackpads a long time back but it was only last year when it removed the belt of keys that had become a vital part of every phone’s design.

The company’s two QWERTY BB10 devices, the Q10 and the Q5, came without these buttons even though they touted BlackBerry’s iconic keyboards. Some loyalists weren’t too excited about this change, I consider myself to be one of them, despite having a Z10 I continue to use my Bold 9900 for precisely the same reason, the trackpad, BB key, return key and call keys are indispensable for some long-time BlackBerry users.

It appears that BlackBerry, under the leadership of its new CEO John Chen, is taking a different direction in a bid to lure more customers. The company is set to announce the first device that has materialized out of its partnership with Foxconn today, presumably a mid-range phone, and the CEO is also expected to announce that they’ll be bringing back the buttons and the trackpads on new BB10 phones that come out later this year. For the consumer market, BlackBerry is expected to launch only two new high-end BB10 devices this year, and only one of them is presumed to have a full QWERTY keyboard.

While there’s no confirmation from the company as yet, Chen did hint during a recent interview that upcoming BB phones “will have some of the features our power-users love.” The belt of buttons and the trackpad can certainly be classified as one such feature, but does it make sense for BlackBerry to take a step back, considering that the BlackBerry 10 platform was designed from the ground up to eliminate the need for these buttons altogether?

Source: The Globe and Mail