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BlackBerry will have an all-touchscreen phone in October

China's TCL wants you to know that the new, improved BlackBerry portfolio is not a one-phone wonder.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The BlackBerry KeyOne will soon get a pal.

BlackBerry phone manufacturer TCL will release a companion to the KeyOne in October, with at least one major difference -- it won't have a keyboard.

"Two months from now, we will have a touchscreen solution to show," François Mahieu, head of global sales for TCL, said in a briefing at the IFA tech conference in Berlin on Tuesday.

It's no surprise that we're getting more BlackBerry phones this year. Back in February TCL promised as many as three devices would be coming in 2017. But this is the first we've heard from the Chinese manufacturer of an October launch date of its next device, as well as confirmation that it's working on an all-touchscreen phone.

TCL, which also makes televisions and Alcatel phones, has been trying to breathe fresh life into the BlackBerry brand since launching the KeyOne at Mobile World Congress in February. Two major criticisms BlackBerry weathered in its former life were its inability to react fast enough to changes in the the market and to keep pace with rivals in releasing new phones. TCL hopes to avoid those mistakes with a second high-end phone, as well as reinforce the message that the BlackBerry family is here to stay. 

The touchscreen BlackBerry will be roughly the same price as the KeyOne, according to Mahieu. The idea behind this is to ensure that business customers being offered a BlackBerry at work will have a choice of devices. Some people will simply prefer to have a touchscreen phone. "We should not be blind to the demand that's out there," said Mahieu.

Indeed, a phone with a keyboard is a rarity in today's era of all-touchscreen phones. Like its predecessors, the BlackBerry KeyOne has struggled to be seen amid a sea of high-end phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Not helping matters: The KeyOne didn't land with US carriers until several months after its unveiling. The coming months will be tougher, with the just unveiled Galaxy Note 8, soon-to-be-unveiled iPhones, the LG V30 and a new Google Pixel phone in the mix. 

Still, there are some BlackBerry diehards. And if you're a fan of the KeyOne's keyboard, don't panic. A full touchscreen phone is not a U-turn away from physical keys for TCL, just a deviation. "It will continue to be true in the future that keyboards are definitely a big element of [BlackBerry's] DNA," said Mahieu. 

The new phone will likely be a more sophisticated follow-up to the TCL-made DTEK 50 and DTEK60, which feature full touchscreens and which predated TCL's takeover as the official manufacturer of BlackBerry devices.

"The message here is very clearly: Don't write us off as a vendor who has good success with KeyOne so far, but has nothing more to talk about," said Mahieu. "We're here to stay and we're going to roll out more BlackBerry products in the coming years, starting this year."

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