BlackBerry isn’t going anywhere. It announced the BlackBerry KEYone at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, after previewing the design at CES in January. The handset is manufactured by TCL, while BlackBerry provided the software.
The Android smartphone runs Nougat 7.1, and resembles a thinner version of the BlackBerry Passport and keeps the clever under-keyboard touch trackpad from that phone to help navigate the screen and scroll through apps.
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When is the BlackBerry KEYone release date?
The KEYone is available now, priced at €599, £499 and $549 in the US.
You can also get it from Selfridges on Oxford Street in London for £499.
TCL has also announced a new matte black edition of the KEYone at IFA in Berlin. It’s exactly the same design and specs, but now eschews the silver finish for dark black.
BlackBerry lovers out there will dig it, though if you forked out for a KEYone a few months ago you might be a bit miffed. It costs £50 more though, coming in at £549 and will available very soon.
This extra money does get you 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, up from 3GB and 32GB from the original version. The microSD card slot remains.
It'll also come to Germany, France, Canada, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Japan with other European, Asian and Latin American companies to follow.
TCL confirmed to CNET at IFA that an all touchscreen phone is in the works for October, but for now the keyboard reigns in the new-look BlackBerry world.
How much does the BlackBerry KEYone cost in the UK?
This one is a bit of a kicker. The KEYone, with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor (distinctly midrange) will set you back £499 SIM free. That’s a lot considering you could get a OnePlus 5 for £499 with a Snapdragon 825.
Then again – those after the KEYone are unlikely to care. The BlackBerry brand elicits a fierce loyalty from its now small customer base. What TCL is really hoping however with this device is to expand beyond that remaining loyal bunch and get the KEYone in the pockets of regular consumers again.
What are the features and specifications?
The KEYone is designed by TCL, the company charged with continuing the BlackBerry name. It's the company's third collaboration following on from the DTEK50 and DTEK60.
The KEYone features Qualcomm’s by no means high-end Snapdragon 625 processor. This will hopefully be enough to adequately power Android Nougat 7.1, the latest version of Google’s operating system. It is however well known for its power efficiency in phones like the Huawei Nova Plus and Moto Z Play so perhaps BlackBerry is hoping that it can recall the days of two day battery email power machines; its handsets of old.
It comes with 32GB storage expandable via micro SD to 256GB and chugs along on a healthy 3GB RAM.
The KEYone has an unusual 4.5in screen with a 3:2 ratio. It looks a lot like the BlackBerry Passport on a diet.
Other features include those carried over from the Passport and the Priv such as single key shortcuts from the homescreen (e.g. tap W to get the weather app open) but it adds a new draw in the fingerprint sensor built into the space bar.
The keyboard houses a touch sensitive trackpad underneath it, allowing you to glide your thumb over the keys much like a laptop trackpad to navigate web pages and apps. The tactile feedback of keys is also still a draw to many who find typing on glass odd - though those people are surely in a minority in 2017.
The KEYone is powered by a 3505mAh battery (non removable) which is the largest ever found in a BlackBerry branded phone.
This could well be the start of a new BlackBerry chapter just when we thought it was curtains. If only it were cheaper.