BlackBerry and TCL took the wraps off a secure, new Android-based smartphone with a physical keyboard at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The KEYone will go for $549 and will be available in April. It looks like true hybrid between a Google Pixel and an old BlackBerry Curve.
Previously known as the BlackBerry Mercury, the KEYone features a 4.5-inch display with a 1620 x 1080-pixel resolution. The Corning Gorilla Glass 4 means it should be relatively rugged and able to withstand some abuse. The anodized aluminum frame may also take a beating. A 12-megapixel camera graces the backside. It’s powered by a 2-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon octa-core CPU with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of memory. You can also expand the memory via a hot swappable microSD memory card (up to 2TB).
The physical keyboard really got my attention. BlackBerry calls it a Smart Keyboard, which mimics the old trackpad and responds to touch gestures. You can customize its actions with up to 52 shortcuts. For instance, pressing “I” opens your inbox and “M” opens maps. It’s also the first smartphone with a fingerprint sensor in the keyboard spacebar.
BlackBerry says its 3505 mAh battery is the largest ever put into a BlackBerry-branded device. It should charge by 50 percent in 36 minutes via USB Type-C and 3.1 technology.
The collaboration between the two companies is just the latest between the two since BlackBerry announced its new device-licensing strategy and the company’s new DTEK app-enabled privacy, like the Priv before. The phone is based on Android 7.1 Nougat and will come with the BlackBerry Hub for messaging and BlackBerry Security software. It will also offer full access to the Google Play app store.