BlackBerry hits comeback trail with KeyOne

Tweet 23rd February

BlackBerry and TCL just finished officially announcing the new BlackBerry KeyOne.

If we talk about, BlackBerry KEYone's Smart Keyboard, it has a fingerprint sensor on the spacebar and a capacitive touch on the entire keyboard for scrolling.

BlackBerry Ltd. enthusiasts hung up on the idea of physical smartphone keyboards can finally get their fingers on the last device designed at least partially in-house by the Waterloo, Ont. company.

Rounding out the KeyOne's feature set is Android 7.1 Nougat running on a 4.5-inch 1620x1080 LCD screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio.

A 12-megapixel camera (1.55um pixel size, Sony's IMX378 sensor, PDAF, f/2.0 aperture) is placed on the back of the device, and next to it you'll notice the dual-LED, dual-tone flash. Around front, the KeyOne is packing an 8-megapixel camera with wide angle lens.

Combine that massive battery with the Snapdragon 625 CPU inside the KEYone - that's not Qualcomm's fastest processor, but it is a fairly energy-efficient one - and TCL says this phone could go more than a day on a single charge. It also packs 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage that can be further expanded upto 256GB via MicroSD card slot.

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The BlackBerry KeyOne will be available globally in April and will cost £499 in the United Kingdom, €599 in mainland Europe and $549 in the US. There's precious little room to innovate messaging input when everyone's using the same touchscreen technology, which is why every other phone manufacturer has fixed its attention on camera tech. Perfectly fine devices within their price brackets, naturally, but the marriage of the mid-range to BlackBerry's more business-focused branding was a rather curious one.

The backlit keyboard, which is reminiscent to original BlackBerry devices, is now attached directly underneath the touch display.

With flick typing also supported, the phone's keyboard can also let you jump straight into certain tasks, allowing users to programme up to 52 customisable shortcuts. As per the licensing agreement between BlackBerry and TCL in December a year ago, TCL holds the right to make and sell BlackBerry-branded smartphones in all countries except India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh. This might indicate that TCL might be manufacturing a BlackBerry tablet as well that can possibly be displayed at their launch event.

On the software front, BlackBerry has included the most recent Android 7.1 Nougat with, of course, the company's own security tweaks, and apps such as the DTEK security monitoring tool. But along with Android, also comes the question of security. Somewhat unusually, the fingerprint sensor is built into the space bar. TCL will start by taking the KEYone directly to BlackBerry customers, who number about 275 million globally.

Connectivity options include 4G, VoLTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy, NFC, 3.5mm audio jack and USB Type-C port.



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