BlackBerry KeyOne launching in April with Android 7.1 and physical keyboard in tow

The BlackBerry Mercury made its official debut at CES in January, but at the time, neither BlackBerry nor TCL (maker of BlackBerry phones) spilled any of the device’s specs or even its real name. Now all of that info has been revealed.

The BlackBerry Mercury is now the BlackBerry KeyOne. As expected, one of the highlight features of the KeyOne is its physical keyboard, which is something we don’t see much of in the smartphone world anymore.

The KeyOne’s keyboard lets you program keyboard shortcuts so that you can quickly jump to your favorite contacts or apps. For example, you could press the B button to launch the browser. You can also use the KeyOne keyboard to flick predictive text onto your screen and to scroll through webpages and emails like a trackpad. Finally, the KeyOne’s space bar doubles as a fingerprint reader.

BlackBerry and TCL have given the KeyOne as 12-megapixel rear camera with a Sony IMX378 sensor and large 1.55µm pixels, which is similar to the camera in Google’s Pixel. Around front, the KeyOne is packing an 8-megapixel camera with wide angle lens.

BlackBerry KeyOne hands-on front

The BlackBerry KeyOne’s body features an aluminum frame and a soft, textured back. Inside of that shell lives an octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a microSD slot for adding more storage, NFC, and a 3505mAh battery. There’s also a USB Type-C port for charging as well as Quick Charge support.

When it comes to wireless connectivity, the BlackBerry KeyOne offers LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 17, 19, 20, 28, 29, 30, 38, 39, 40, and 41 in North America and Latin America. In Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific, the KeyOne offers LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17 20, 28A, 38, 40, and B28.

Rounding out the KeyOne’s feature set is Android 7.1 Nougat running on a 4.5-inch 1620×1080 LCD screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio.

The BlackBerry KeyOne will launch this April at a price of $549/€599/£499.

BlackBerry KeyOne hands-on soft touch rear

Overall, the BlackBerry KeyOne looks like a solid piece of hardware. While it’s not the most high-end device around, its specs should be enough to handle most anything you throw at it, and it’s great to see that it’s coming preloaded with Android 7.1, which is currently only available on Nexus and Pixel phones. The KeyOne’s physical keyboard won’t be for everyone, but for those folks that miss the days of pounding away on real buttons, the KeyOne’s keyboard and form factor could make it a must-buy.


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