The BlackBerry KeyOne is an Android smartphone with a classic BlackBerry-style keyboard… or rather, a modern take on that keyboard, since the touch-sensitive keys also function as a touchpad.
The phone goes on sale in the US starting Wednesday, May 31st. It’ll be available from Amazon and Best Buy for $550.
BlackBerry’s name is on the phone, but it’s actually manufactured by TCL, the company that’s made the last few BlackBerry phones. BlackBerry makes the Android-based software that runs on the phone, and has a licensing deal with TCL to build and sell BlackBerry-branded phones.
The KeyOne features a 4.5 inch, 1600 x 1050 pixel display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor It has a 12MP rear camera and an 8MP front camera, the phone has a 3,505 mAh battery.
The standout feature is the physical keyboard, which provides tactile feedback while you type. There’s also a fingerprint sensor built into the space bar.
But the always-present keyboard means that the screen is a bit shorter than those on most phones, which could make this a less-than-perfect device for watching videos or playing some games. It’s basically a device for people who really want an Android phone with a physical keyboard.
Other special features include BlackBerry’s suite of Android apps including messenger, email, and security software.
TCL will offer two models: a GSM version of the phone with support for AT&T and T-Mobile, and a CDMA version for Verizon. Sprint customers will have to wait until this summer for a version that supports that network.
Having felt one of these in the hand, they are lovely well-made phones. It’s a sort of side-grade from my Priv but then the Priv has lots of little niggles that the Keyone doesn’t. For instance, the front facing camera on the priv is garbage.
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