BlackBerry has officially launched the KEYone – its latest Android-powered device bearing the iconic Canadian smartphone manufacturer’s name.
The device, which is produced by Chinese-manufacturer TCL and was formerly known as the Mercury, is distinctly BlackBerry.
For starters, it incorporates the beloved physical hardware keyboard. While some may find it a bit anachronistic, it remains one of the most comfortable ways to type out a long email or document on a mobile phone.
And as we’ve seen with previous BlackBerry devices, the keyboard itself can be used as a navigation device, allowing users to traverse through the phone by swiping. This functionality debuted on the BlackBerry Passport, way back in 2014.
On the KEYone, the physical keyboard has been turbo-charged, allowing you to use each key as a shortcut, assigning keys to apps and actions. By short- or long-pressing the letter ‘u’, for example, you can launch Uber.
As is expected these days, the full details for the device were leaked slightly before the event, and while respectable, are unlikely to set anyone’s world on fire. As expected, there’s a 4.5-inch touchscreen with a 1620 x 1080-pixel resolution and a 3:2 aspect ratio.
Moving on to the camera, its rear-shooter is a 12MP Sony IMX378, which supports 4K video at 30FPS, and has an f/2.0 lens. Its selfie camera is a perfectly decent 8MP affair.
At the bottom of the device, there’s a USB-C port for charging. The gorgeous and slender aluminum design also incorporates a headphone jack, the usual volume rocker and power key, plus a function key that can be configured as required.
The KEYone also boasts a textured back cover, which TCL promises will improve your grip on the device.
As has been the case with previous devices, the KEYone runs a relatively untouched version of Android Nougat 7.1, complimented by BlackBerry’s security and productivity software, like the BlackBerry Hub and DTEK.
Powering it is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Octa-core chip, backed up with 3GB of RAM, and a gigantic 3,505mAh battery. This supports Quick Charge 3.0, and is accompanied with something called Boost, which further speeds up the charging process by putting it into battery saving mode. It comes with 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded with a microSD card.
The KEYone is a distinct and gorgeous device. As BlackBerry focuses more on its major profit centers – namely software and services – it’s nice to know that the current licensor to the BlackBerry name hasn’t forgotten its roots, and can produce a device that makes us drool.
The device will be available from April, 2017, and will be priced at €599 in Europe, £499 in the UK, and $549 in the US. Details about pre-order availability can be found here.