TCL has finally officially announced the KEYone, the last BlackBerry-designed smartphone. Formerly known by its Mercury codename, this device combines the physical keyboard that BlackBerry fans love with Android 7.1. It, unfortunately, also means that BB10 is now well and truly dead.
KEYone features a 4.5-inch touch display with a resolution of 1620 x 1080. The 3:2 aspect ratio is not entirely uncommon, and harkens back to the heyday of BlackBerry. Complementing this is physical keyboard that now allows users to use each key as a separate shortcut.
Powering the KEYone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. A choice that seems rather low powered compared to other flagship smartphones. This isn’t the first time that BlackBerry has chosen to use less powerful chip in a premium grade device. Considering that the company has been sitting on this design for a while, this may be a holdover from an earlier design mentality.
Rounding out the lackluster internals are 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. Thankfully, there is support for microSD cards up to 2TB in size. This may sound like a lot, but there aren’t actually any 2TB microSD cards on the consumer market right now.
The rear camera is a 12MP “large pixel” camera, and happens to use a Sony built sensor. Sony traditionally has excellent mobile camera sensors, which is a good sign for the KeyOne. An 8MP camera with a wide angle lens is located on the front of the phone.
One place where the KEYone looks to have made all the right decisions is the battery. Featuring a substantial 3,505mAh Lithium-ion battery, the device should be more than capable of meeting its all-day battery life promise. It also charges over a USB Type-C connector and features a fast charging capability.
It should be noted that while the KEYone was designed by BlackBerry, it will be manufactured by TCL. Such is the current arrangement between the two companies, although we will no longer see BlackBerry involved in the design process going forward.
The BlackBerry KEYone will be rolling out globally from April this year for a rather steep $549 (about RM2430). BlackBerry has also rolled out a new website for customers to sign up and receive notifications on when the KEYone is available in their country.