BARCELONA — TCL launched the smartphone that it is counting on to revitalize the diminished BlackBerry brand. It’s called the BlackBerry KeyOne, and is being marketed as the most secure Android phone in the world.
KeyOne goes on sale in the U.S. in April for $549.
Speaking at a Mobile World Congress press event here, TCL Communication CEO Nicolas Zibell said the phone represents the “beginning of a new story” for BlackBerry.
The old story is well known of course. How the once-powerhouse Canadian based-smartphone maker fell on hard times after the iPhone came along. BlackBerry’s market share dwindled down to practically nothing.
Under a recent licensing agreement, Hong Kong-based TCL is now responsible for the hardware branded under BlackBerry Mobile. BlackBerry in Canada still supplies the security and software smarts.
The KeyOne is the first BlackBerry handset to come out under TCL’s watch.
The new phone certainly looks like a traditional BlackBerry, what with a Qwerty keyboard that reminds you of the popular BlackBerry keyboards of yesteryear. But this is a modernized version, with programmable keys that can provide up to 52 shortcuts. For example, you can press the “I” key for quick access to your inbox, or the “m” key for a maps shortcut.
The gesture-responsive keyboard also doubles as a trackpad.
Staple BlackBerry features on the device include the BlackBerry Hub repository for all your various communications, and DTEK security software.
Indeed, the KeyOne remains an enterprise play, but one BlackBerry hopes it will eventually appeal to consumers.
The KeyOne is supposed to have an all-day battery with fast charging. It runs off a Qualcomm 625 processor and has a modern USB-C connector. It runs the Nougat 7.1 version of Android.
Other specs: the phone has a 4.5-inch display (resolution 1620 x…