BlackBerry's KEYone is an exciting return to form

James Marshall
February 26, 2017

It is not just the typing that you can do with the QWERTY keyboard of the KEYone. And the device will come with a price tag of € 599, £ 499 and $549. And, frankly, they're right. We have to applaud Blackberry for going against the grain and doing its own thing, and we are sure long-type Blackberry fans will be happy with the overall result.

The BlackBerry KeyOne is the same device we first saw during CES 2017 when it was code named Mercury. The fingerprint reader that's embedded in the physical spacebar has been positioned perfectly. The camera will support 4K video recording capability at 30 fps.

When it comes to wireless connectivity, the BlackBerry KeyOne offers LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 17, 19, 20, 28, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, and 41 in North America and Latin America. Keypad is traditionally the strength of BlackBerry and BlackBerry KeyOne exploits it to the fullest. You might recognize them as the Chinese manufacturer behind the Alcatel phones. At that point of time, the company thought of keeping the specs of the smartphone hidden, but rumours have leaked the complete specs. BlackBerry's licensed partner for India, Optiemus Infracom, is expected to bring the BlackBerry KeyOne to the Indian market. Now TCL's President, Steve Cistulli has documented BlackBerry Mercury's journey to the MWC in a series of tweets which started off on 21st February.

"It's designed for more than just enterprises: It's for professional consumers, achievers, people looking for something different", said Bell. Not only is the Snapdragon 625 more frugal than Qualcomm's newer, faster chips, but the KeyOne has the largest battery in a BlackBerry to-date.

Tucked into an anodized aluminum frame and soft touch textured back, this new BlackBerry smartphone is built to offer the best in durability while still remaining easy on the eyes. For example, you can program the buttons to be shortcuts to contacts and apps, like making the "B" button launch the browser. You can do that.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen said last September the company was exiting the hardware business, which struggled with profitability as Apple and others dominated the market, to focus on its growing security software operations. Inside, there's Qualcomm's Snapdragon 625 processor. After years of typing on a touchscreen, getting used to something like this would take a while. The keypad isn't an average keypad but rather, each key has an additional function.

That all said, I want to be clear: the KeyOne feels like a totally competent effort for what it is.

The Android smartphone will run 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. Is it expensive given the bill of materials? Yes. A quick glimpse even lets you see the overall security rating for your device. It's priced at $549 (or approx Rs 36,000).

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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