BlackBerry KEYone (Mercury) Android Smartphone with a Qwerty Keyboard Announced at MWC

The new Keyone, which runs on Google’s Android operating system, features both the touch-response screen of a modern smartphone as well as a keyboard, similar to that of the firm’s most popular devices.

The device, which is produced by Chinese-manufacturer TCL and was formerly known as the Mercury, is distinctly BlackBerry. 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.

The device runs on Android 7.1, giving users access to the entire Google Play store and apps.

The TCL executive also revealed that there will be more BlackBerry products coming to target the consumer market.

Under a recent licensing agreement, Hong Kong-based TCL is now responsible for the hardware branded under BlackBerry Mobile.

While the 4.5-inch full HD screen is impressive and the newest iteration of Android welcome, it’s the physical keyboard that’s the biggest talking point. As small as that sounds in 2017, keep in mind that it’s a slightly different aspect ratio of 3:2 instead of 16:9.

However, the QWERTY keyboard on the KEYone is more advanced – it comes with customizable keys, swipe gestures and a fingerprint sensor placed under the space bar.

According to TCL, the KeyOne “is intentionally created to offer the most secure Android smartphone experience possible”, as the firm remains keen to push the smartphone towards business customers.

On the optics front, the new offering from Blackberry sports a 12-megapixel rear camera with a Sony IMX378 sensor at the back along with a 8-megapixel front facing camera, with a wide-angle lens and a flash module for selfie and video calling purposes.

Like all BlackBerry phones, the KEYone too has several unique features. Blackberry KEYone has a sizable battery size of 3505 mAh and uses a USB type C port for charging. That is a reason why not just the DTEK Security app, but a fingerprint sensor is also present on the phone.

TCL and BlackBerry offer 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, expandable up to 256 GB with a microSD card.

BlackBerry KEYone comes with a price tag of $549 (Rs. 36,590 approx.) and will be available from April. As expected, it keeps the Canadian company’s signature physical QWERTY keyboard, but this doesn’t mean the screen isn’t touch-enabled.

On the inside, we now know what makes the KEYone so bulky in comparison with current devices. Every key has been assigned 2 presses – one short press and one long press, which means, each key gets its own short-cut – either a symbol, a website, or something else.

The phone has all the standard set of connectivity options such as Wi-Fi 802.11/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, 4G LTE, VoLTE, and NFC.

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