Keyboard features alongside touchscreen on new BlackBerry smartphone

by Lawrence Cooper February 27, 2017, 0:29

BlackBerry has launched their latest product, BlackBerry KeyOne, long rumoured the BlackBerry Mercury in the market right ahead of MWC 2017. Made in partnership with Chinese handset-maker TCL, the phone hits shelves in April and will be available globally. However, following the company hitting an absolute 0% market share in the last quarter, it looks like TCL is going to face a tough time. However, there are still thousands of BlackBerry users in Ireland, even though the vast majority have quit the system for iPhones and Android devices. It is the first major handset launch at the annual conference and comes after BlackBerry announced in September it would outsource all manufacturing to third parties following a disastrous decline in smartphone shipments, down from 52 million in 2011 to seven million in 2015.

"We all know how iconic BlackBerry has been and we are eager to prove to the world that the excitement is something they have in the future", he said.

The backlit keyboard, which is reminiscent to original BlackBerry devices, is now attached directly underneath the touch display. The phone has a 4.5-inch display screen with a 1620 x 1080 resolution. A fingerprint sensor is built into the space bar, but you can also swipe across the keyboard to navigate around text and webpages without moving your fingers off the keys and up to the touchscreen.

BlackBerry is also concentrating on security with the KeyOne, launching the phone with Android 7.1 and committing to issuing Google's monthly security patches. Under to hood it runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core chipset clocked at 2Ghz, paired with Adreno 506 GPU.

Other specs include a 12-megapixel rear camera with 4K video recording at 30 fps, an 8-megapixel fixed-focus selfie cam with 1080p video, a 3,505 mAh battery, and USB Type-C. The BlackBerry Press Release did not have any RAM/ROM info, but expect it to carry the standard 4GB RAM/32GB ROM combination.

While these phones have never been famous due to their cameras, the KEYone wants to step up its game with a Sony IMX378 sensor, the same one Google Pixel phones have.

A unique feature of the keyboard is the gesture control.

The BlackBerry KeyOne will be an Android smartphone with QWERTY keypad with loads of goodies by the company on the software and security aspects.

What BlackBerry - and TCL - are hoping will help set the KeyOne apart from rival devices is its security chops.

The phone boots Android 7.1 Nougat out-of-the-box and is armed with a 3505mAh battery, which also has support for fast charging in the form of Qualcomm's QuickCharge 3.0.

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