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New $799 KeyOne Blackberry Revealed, May Launch

The Blackberry of old is out, a new Blackberry complete with a new generation keyboard is called KeyOne.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona overnight, TCL the Chinese Company that secured the rights to the security software that made the Blackberry famous launched a brand new model that will go on sale in Australia in May for $799.

The Blackberry KeyOne has a 4.5-inch screen and a full BlackBerry keyboard. It also has a Full HD 1,620 X 1,080 LCD screen and an impressive pixel density of 434 pixels per inch. There is also a 12-megapixel camera front camera and an 8-megapixel selfie camera.

Also on board is 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, plus a MicroSD card slot. There’s a huge 3505mAh battery, the powerhouse is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor.

The reason that TCL has used this processor is to deliver efficiency and longer battery life.

“We believe it’s properly designed with the right engine and the right gas tank,” a TCL spokesperson said.

With the new keyboard, you can swipe on it to move between home screens, and use the space bar as a fingerprint sensor.

But you can also assign any key as an arbitrary keyboard shortcut: G for Gmail, for instance, or M for music.

Another key benefit is the Hub, BlackBerry’s unified messaging app, which now includes Slack and WhatsApp. This allows one to store all your messages in one place.

At CES I was able to play with an early version of this device and unlike a classic BlackBerry handsets the screen won’t be square but adopt a more regular touchscreen aspect. Rather than 16:9 like most displays, it’s 3:2 which could be a problem when viewing video.

Unlike prior models the KeyOne doesn’t have a sliding display, and doesn’t look like a traditional candy bar all-touch device either. Instead, it resembles a stretched-out version of the Silver Edition BlackBerry Passport.

Like traditional BlackBerry phones, and unlike the Priv, the KeyOne also has metal frets in between the four rows of keys on the physical keyboard. This helps space out the keys to make typing easier, as well as giving it a solid feel. Above the keys, below the display, there’s the traditional Android trio of capacitive buttons.

These keys are sculpted to make them easier to type on and, the space bar doubles as a home button and fingerprint scanner.

The new KeyOne comes with a textured black plastic back and the frame is rounded, giving it a comfortable in-hand feel, and the volume rocker and Convenience Key are low down, and easy to reach.
Under the deal with TCL their developers get access to BlackBerry’s industrial design team to help create a unified BlackBerry design, however it’s not known whether TCL will get access to BlackBerry’s patented hardware technologies, like its special Paratek antennas.

“We license our IP technology to many different companies, and you could assume those companies could be part of that licensing structure,” a Blackberry spokesperson said.
The KeyOne under-the-hood security will have to go through full US government certification processes again, to be usable by the Department of Defence, he said.