TCL and BlackBerry unveiled a new Android-based smartphone born out of the Canadian company's recent foray into licensing their brand. The $549 KEYone will feature a physical keyboard that is strikingly reminiscent of the BlackBerry Curve. It was available for pre-order on May 18 in Canada and became available at Best Buy and Amazon on May 31. The major carriers are expected to start offering it this summer, but the question remains: Will business owners give up their iPhones and Samsung devices to get one?
Inside the anodized aluminum frame with a soft-touch textured back, you'll find a pretty powerful 2-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU with 3GB of RAM. It holds 32GB of memory, but you can expand that with a 2TB, hot-swappable microSD card. It's 3505 mAh non-removable battery should charge up 50 percent in about 35 minutes via USB Type-C technology. BlackBerry says it's the biggest battery ever included in a phone to carry their name.
The outside houses a 12-megapixel rear camera, and a 4.5-inch scratch resistant screen made of Gorilla Glass. It features a 1620 x 1080-pixel resolution. But it's the physical keyboard that will most attract your attention. The spacebar is the first to feature a fingerprint sensor for added security. It's also touch-sensitive and can be programmed with up to 52 shortcuts. For instance, typing "I" opens your inbox, or "MP opens your maps.
It will have full access to the Google Play store for apps, but it also comes with BlackBerry Hub for messaging. The phone is based on Android 7.0 Nougat and comes with BlackBerry Security software, which business owners will appreciate. It includes the company's DTEK security monitoring app, and it works with the company's BES12 mobile device management software.
Ultimately, the BlackBerry KEYone seems like a solid business-friendly device, if a tad on the pricey side. But will anyone buy one? Will you?