After long months of rumors, TCL has finally taken the wraps off the BlackBerry KEYone, a phone many know as the BlackBerry Mercury.
The phone was launched yesterday ahead of the MWC 2017 event, which starts tomorrow (officially), but some of its aspects had been highlighted at the CES 2017 earlier in January. As expected, it keeps the Canadian company’s signature physical QWERTY keyboard, but this doesn’t mean the screen isn’t touch-enabled.
The BlackBerry KEYone is without a doubt a unique phone in the market – boasting an old school physical keyboard that is rare to come by these days, especially on a touch-enabled Android device. Speaking of Android, the phone runs the latest v7.1 Nougat out of the box, making it the second to come with the OS preinstalled after the Pixel and Pixel XL.
If you hate the direction that many Android manufacturers have taken lately – where big is the description of every OEM’s display screen size – the BlackBerry KEYone is a phone worth looking at. It comes with a compact 4.5-inch display screen with a magnificent resolution of 1620 x 1080 pixels, totaling a pixel density of 433ppi and an aspect ratio of 3:2 thanks to the physical keyboard just below it.
As for the build, the material used is an anodized aluminum frame with a back that is soft, but the specs under the hood are not as impressive as you’d imagine, especially when looking at the phone’s price tag. There is a midrange Snapdragon 625 SoC, the same chipset you find in the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4/4X or even ASUS ZenFone 3 – phones that are priced well below $300.
The Snapdragon 625 SoC is paired with a 3GB RAM and 32GB of expandable storage, which can accommodate up to 2TB. In terms of cameras, the main unit equals the magnificent Sony IMX378 sensor that is used on the Google Pixel and has the same 12MP lens. As for the front part, you get a decent 8MP unit that should do the magic when it comes to selfies and video calls.
The BlackBerry Smart Keyboard is also part of it and according to the company, this is the most advanced keyboard to date. The shortcuts can be customized as you wish while the touch navigation also responds to touch gestures, similar to a trackpad. The tech giant also boasts in the fact that the BlackBerry KEYone has its security suite and other software, including the Hub.
To keep it alive, the BlackBerry KEYone has a massive 3505mAh battery unit that supports Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging technology. But you’ll be surprised that the phone has a massive price tag of $549 in the U.S., £499 pounds in the UK and €599 euros in the rest of Europe. Those in the U.S. and Canada can already sign up in order to be notified of the device’s availability.
Looking at the design, specs, and features that this money can buy – talk of the OnePlus 3T, Xiaomi Mi 5S, LeEco Le Pro 3, or even the company’s own DTEK60 or the older Google Nexus 6P – it is easy to say that the BlackBerry KEYone has quite an enormous price tag. However, it seems the company is looking for a specific market – a market that still longs for a compact phone that blends an old school approach with the latest software to bring out a nifty phone that should meet the average day-to-day needs of a mobile phone user. But if you are a workhorse who also needs a similar phone, you may want to look at other options, especially when the hardware specs come into play.
What do you think about the BlackBerry KEYone and its price tag? Is it really worth it? Let us know in your comments below!