TCL launched BlackBerry KeyOne, the first new device to use the BlackBerry brand since the Canadian enterprise mobility company signed a global licensing deal with the handset maker in December.
At the launch event on Saturday evening, Nicolas Zibell, TCL Communication CEO, said the handset would position BlackBerry as “the new challenger in the premium smartphone segment”.
KeyOne features the distinctive physical keyboard and security features traditionally associated with BlackBerry.
It will retail at €599 and is scheduled for an April release in selected markets around the world. TCL will aim the handset at the premium segment with a specific focus on business users and other “successful” individuals. It looks set to market the handset for its advanced security features and frequently referred to it as the “most secure Android smartphone available” at the launch.
KeyOne has a 4.5-inch Gorilla Glass 4 touch display with a fixed physical keyboard underneath, set into an aluminium frame.
It will ship with Android 7.1 Nougat – the latest version of Android – and features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 3,505mAh battery with quick-charging feature and a 12MP rear camera with Sony IMX378 camera sensor.
The traditional BlackBerry Qwerty keyboard has been updated to support slide typing and a shortcut feature where specific apps can be accessed by holding down a designated key. It retains the BlackBerry Hub, seen on later devices manufactured by the brand owner.
The handset was the last designed in-house at BlackBerry and will be manufactured, marketed and distributed by TCL under the company’s global agreement. It was teased at CES in January under its provisional name Mercury, but full details of the handset were kept under-wraps until Saturday’s Barcelona event.
Addressing media, Zibell said the KeyOne is “a device that looks ahead to the future of BlackBerry, while capturing the key blackberry heritage”.