News: BlackBerry Unveils the KeyOne—A New Security-Focused Phone with a Physical Keyboard

BlackBerry Unveils the KeyOne—A New Security-Focused Phone with a Physical Keyboard

BlackBerry has formally announced the arrival of its flagship, the KeyOne, during Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona. The all-Android KeyOne looks distinctly BlackBerry, with its 4.5" screen and physical QWERTY keyboard. Here's the lowdown on this elegant handset that hearkens back to BlackBerry's heyday, which had previously been known by its code name, the BlackBerry Mercury.

Image by Android Authority/YouTube

Aluminum Unibody with Physical Keyboard

BlackBerry is going back to its roots with its upcoming flagship phone, as the device will come standard with a gorgeous physical keyboard. Like the PRIV, the KeyOne's keyboard is also capacitive, which enables the user to navigate the screen by swiping across the buttons. Its space bar also doubles as a fingerprint scanner, adding an extra layer of security and quick access to the device.

The keyboard can also be used to scroll through the main screen. Image by MrMobile/YouTube

Another noteworthy feature of the KeyOne is its ability to assign shortcuts to each of its keys for quick access to apps. For example, you can assign the letter "I" on your keypad as a shortcut to access Instagram, or "P" for the Play Store, and so on. Blackberry's feature-laden keyboard offsets its screen-size and maximizes all usable space on the front of the handset.

Build-wise, the BlackBerry KeyOne will feature an aluminum unibody construction, with a textured, non-removable back panel that should greatly aid the device's ergonomics.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 with 3 GB of RAM

The Blackberry KeyOne comes equipped with Qualcomm's octa-core Snapdragon 625 CPU, and an Adreno 506 GPU. While it might seem like a letdown compared to upcoming flagships that have processors with higher specs, it's a logical choice for BlackBerry, as their handsets are geared more for business and enterprise, and won't require more powerful processors to run efficiently.

The BlackBerry KeyOne has 32 GB of on board storage and a microSD slot to provide additional external storage that can support up to a whopping 2 TB. The KeyOne comes with 3 GB of RAM, which should be sufficient for most multitasking needs.

12-Megapixel Camera, Same Sony Sensor Found in Google Pixel

BlackBerry wants to be more competitive camera-wise, and the KeyOne uses the same Sony IMX378 rear camera sensor found in Google's flagship. The Pixel has proven itself to be no slouch in the camera department, with the experts over at DxOMark giving it a score of 89, the highest rating they've ever given to a smartphone camera. In other words, the KeyOne will have the most powerful camera BlackBerry has ever utilized in a phone.

Image by Android Authority/YouTube

The KeyOne also sports a 8-megapixel front camera, with built-in flash for even better selfies.

3,505 mAh Battery, USB Type-C, Headphone Jack & 4.5" Display

The KeyOne comes with a non-removable 3,505 mAh battery, the largest battery ever to be put in a BlackBerry device. The upcoming flagship utilizes a more modern USB Type-C charging port, and pairs that with bottom firing speakers. A 3.5 mm audio jack also comes standard, and is located on the handset's top-left corner.

Closeup shot of the Mercury's USB-C charging port. Image by Android Authority/YouTube

As far as the display goes, the KeyOne's screen measures 4.5 inches, and sport a 1620 x 1080 IPS LCD (433 ppi) with Quad HD resolution. To accommodate the physical keyboard, BlackBerry's gone with a fairly unique 3:2 aspect ratio, which is shorter and wider than the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio found in most phones today.

Android Nougat with BlackBerry Security

The BlackBerry KeyOne runs Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box. The user interface itself is almost stock Android, save for a few BlackBerry extras, such as BBM, BlackBerry Hub, and the DTEK security suite.

BlackBerry's DTEK security suite gives you a centralized hub for privacy settings. Image by CrackBerry/YouTube

Emphasis on security is one major element that Blackberry phones are known for, and the KeyOne certainly won't disappoint. The KeyOne comes standard with a fully customizable and easy-to-use security suite thanks to Blackberry DTEK. To top that off, the KeyOne will receive Android's monthly security updates to make sure the handset stays secure.

For anyone who puts security and privacy above all else with regards to smartphones, the BlackBerry KeyOne will definitely be a solid choice.

Full Specs

We've covered most of the major features in the BlackBerry KeyOne already, but let's take a second to pore over the raw data. The spec sheet is quite impressive, particularly for a phone that puts security above all else.

  • screen: 4.5" 1080p LCD (3:2 aspect ratio)
  • processor: 2.0 GHz Snapdragon 625 with Adreno 506 graphics
  • RAM: 3 GB
  • storage: 32 GB (expandable to 2 TB via Micro SD)
  • rear camera: 12 MP, 1.55 µm pixel size, f/2.0 aperture, dual LED flash
  • front camera: 8 MP, 1.12 µm pixel size, f/2.2 aperture, front-facing flash
  • battery: 3,505 mAh (QuickCharge 3.0)
  • dimensions: 5.87" x 2.85" x 0.37"
  • weight: 6.35 ounces

Pricing & Availability

The Blackberry KeyOne will be available for sale in the US starting in April 2017. Sticker price will start at $549 for the flagship handset, and we expect to see the device for sale by most major electronics retailers and carrier stores.

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Cover image via Shevon Salmon/YouTube

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