The king of QWERTY keypad smartphones, BlackBerry has announced the launch of the last phone that will be produced by the Canadian company. The last hybrid-smartphones, BlackBerry Priv and BlackBerry Passport failed to impress the people and eventually fizzled out.
The company also announced its association with TCL and recently with India-based Opteimus for manufacturing its phones, owing to its idea of sticking to just software part. At MWC 2017, BlackBerry announced the first phone launched under its agreement with TCL, called BlackBerry KEYone.
KEYone comes with a touchscreen and a qwerty keypad at the bottom, just like the Passport. However, unlike Passport, it feels more like a smartphone than an awkward-shaped phone. From some angles, the overall shape reminds of the iPhone.
The phone looks very premium, with a distinctive BlackBerry-esque qwerty pad at the bottom, a decently sized touchscreen above it. The back side has a large camera module with dual LED flash, and a nice pattern with BlackBerry logo.
Take a look at the specifications below
- 4.5-inch 1620×1080 IPS LCD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4, 433 ppi and 4:3 aspect ratio
- Full QWERTY keypad
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Octa-Core 2.0 GHz, 64-bit Adreno 506 coupled with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage with microSD card option of upto 2TB
- 12MP rear camera with phase detection autofocus, dual-tone LED flash, 4K video recording at 30fps, comparable to that of Pixel smartphones(Sony IMX378 sensor
- 8MP fixed focus front camera with wide-angle lens, light-up LCD flash, full HD video recording
- USB Type-C, 3,505mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0
- TE ready, NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, Fingerprint sensor
The smartphone will be available globally from April 2017 at $549 or Rs. 38,000, which seems to be a bit high for a medium-specced smartphone. You will get access to all Google Play apps, BlackBerry Hub unified messaging inbox and DTEK security.
The highlight of the smartphone is the qwerty keypad at the bottom of the phone, which makes it easier for people who do not want to type on a virtual keyboard.
The keyboard also can be easily programmed to launch up to 52 customizable shortcuts, such as pressing “I” for your inbox or “M” to access maps. In addition, KEYone is the first smartphone to build a fingerprint sensor directly into the keyboard spacebar for added functionality and security.
While the smartphone is super secure with BlackBerry’s software, over Android Nougat, it also has a physical keyboard which is widely appreciated by corporates. The phone looks very beautiful and has a distinct look to it.
However, at Rs. 38,000, the company has again failed to price it right. Anything around Rs. 25,000 would have been the upper limit for the smartphone. OnePlus Three, a competitor, is cheaper by almost Rs. 8,000 and comes with improved specs. This not only limits BlackBerry’s market but also wards away potential buyers.