BlackBerry hopes to deliver again with a physical keyboard

By : |February 27, 2017 0

After HMD Global, who is leveraging the nostalgia around the widely popular Nokia 3310 to relaunch the legendary phone, TCL too is bringing back the BlackBerry from the grave, with a physical keyboard.

Ahead of Mobile World Congress 2017, TCL, a billion dollar Chinese corporation, best known for its TVs, launched its first Blackberry-licensed phone with the physical keyboard, KEYone at Europe’s annual trade fair.

Formally known as the Mercury, the KEYone combines a touch display with a physical keyboard to give users more useable space for typing than a typical 5.5-inch all-touch smartphone, along with BlackBerry’s security and software, TCL said.

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TCL/BlackBerry Mobility GM Bruce Walpole told TechCrunch, “We asked if people would consider a physical keyboard. 25 percent of people said they would consider it.” And he further added that “if half of that 25 percent picked up the KeyOne, the company would be plenty satisfied.”

Along with BlackBerry’s security and software, the device runs BBM secure messaging system with Android 7.1, giving users access to the Google Play store and apps. The new smartphone also pack Google security patch updates, which many Android smartphones lack.

On the camera front, the smartphone covered with an aluminium frame and textured backing, sports two cameras – 12 megapixels in the rear and eight in front – and a scratch-resistant 4.5-inch screen display.

TCL partnered with BlackBerry in December. The partnership helps Blackberry with a manufacturer, while it gives a new brand to TCL to restrain its “own flagging growth in smartphones.”

“We have worked closely with TCL to build security and the BlackBerry experience into every layer of KEYone, so the BlackBerry DNA remains very much in place,” said Alex Thurber, general manager of BlackBerry Ltd’s Mobility Solutions unit.

In terms of price, the BlackBerry-licensed smartphone is trying to join the likes of high-end smartphones from brands like Apple, Samsung and Huawei. Reportedly, the KEYone will be available from April with a price around 599 euros.

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