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BlackBerry KEYone Is Here! Pull Out Your Wallets!

24 Feb, 2017
BlackBerry KEYone Is Here Pull Out Your Wallets

As Blackberry works to revive it’s once-legendary brand, it’s going down two different paths – letting out it’s legendary security platform to other enterprises, and embracing Android firmly, for what may well be it’s (BlackBerry’s) final salvo in handset production.

It’s this second initiative that has us interested. BlackBerry’s just released another device with it’s trademark QWERTY physical keyboard that used to once upon a time be synonymous with the Blackberry brand name.

Called BlackBerry KEYone, this new smartphone seems to be a combination of a big screen device (an ode to contemporary market trends), with a physical keyboard from BlackBerry’s old-school phones.

First up, you should read our write up about the device, available here.
Second, the verdict (since most of you will be eager to get to that aspect first) – the device is a fairly solid product, really!

The physical QWERTY keypad is brilliantly made – the keys are the perfect combination of soft, and tactile. The individual keys may appear to be a bit smaller than most would like, but that’s only a initial experience, during the teething phase. Once your hands settle in on the phone, your thumbs find their exact spots fairly quickly.

The phone comes with a 4.5 inch touchscreen display which is kind of a perfect in-between size (between a 4 inch small phone, and the 5.5 inch large-screen layout of most phablets).

The device is powered by a mid-level (but quite adequate) Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor with 3 GB of RAM. Smartly done, the KEYone runs on the latest Android version, the 7.1 Nougat.

Clearly, the KEYone has a screen larger than older Blackberry devices, which is kind of an experiment, I think – to find the sweet spot that BlackBerry is still trying to establish for it’s current line of “hybrid” phones.

Many sites belabour the fact that Blackberry’s place in the market has been on the way down over the past several years, to a point where it almost seemed dead. We have always differed.

If there is one thing that no one can ever, ever brand BlackBerry with – is helplessness. BlackBerry never sits in a corner, wringing it’s hands, or cowers away from trying new things.

One of the grittiest brands ever, BlackBerry has astonished many, many people with it’s desire to try and reinvent itself, and even attempting pivots – finding things in it’s immense arsenal, to bootstrap it’s way back to high ground, and to keep it’s hardware business going.

With this device, and the nostalgia that Blackberry seems to be trying to invoke, the company seems to be planning to return to branding their devices as business phones.
They’re positioning this device as easy to use, comfortable to type and scroll on, blessed with good battery life – all of it with the very famous security and privacy that no other company has been able to topple.

The company didn’t shy away from emphasizing the security of the device. “At BlackBerry, we live and breathe security. Security has been engineered into the entire manufacturing process, throughout the hardware and of course the software“, said  Alex Thurber, the General Manager of BlackBerry’s Mobility Solutions unit.

What is perhaps noteworthy is that the Blackberry KEYone, even though under the Blackberry brand name, is not a device that has been designed or produced in-house by the Canadian company. Back in December, the company had announced that they were halting all in-house smartphone production. Subsequently they signed a deal with the Chinese electronics brand TCL, giving them the rights to produce devices under the BlackBerry brand.

As per the deal, Blackberry will stay in control of the security on the devices, as well as the software, while TCL will produce Android-run devices. The KEYone is thus, the first BlackBerry device that this combination has brought to the market.

The new BlackBerry portfolio has a chance of success because few companies now offer BlackBerry-style design and features, and the productivity-focused smartphone segment is underserved“, said Ian Fogg, Head of Mobile at research firm IHS.

The phone certainly makes it feel like BlackBerry is back, and all set for the competition!