With the KEYone, BlackBerry wants to Make Physical Keyboards Great Again

BlackBerry’s latest smartphone, the KEYone, merges the world of Android together with a company staple; a full, physical keyboard.

Here’s the thing: The Bandwidth Blog team loves BlackBerry’s choice of product codename – for instance, we salivated over the names ‘Mercury’, ‘Argon’, and ‘Neon’ earlier this year, but we’ve had a far more muted reaction to BlackBerry’s latest choice in the form of its newest handset, the KEYone.
Thank goodness, then, that the KEYone seems to be a far more inspiring smartphone than name. Designed to replace the ageing Priv – which debuted with both a mushy physical keyboard and virtual keyboard – the KEYone has one simple premise; Make Physical Keyboards Great Again.
Read: WhatsApp announces that support for BlackBerry 10 will cease in June 2017
Produced by TCL Communications (Alcatel, to the rest of us) to BlackBerry’s design specifications, the KEYone feels more akin to a slick executive in a suit in comparison to the office drones that were the rebranded BlackBerry DTEK50 and DTEK60.
The KEYone sports a physical keyboard that doubles as a trackpad, while the device’s space bar doubles as a fingerprint scanner. Thanks to the presence of that keyboard, the device bears a 1080p display at the smaller aspect ratio of 2:3 – a change from the 16:9 we’ve grown accustomed to in recent years.
blackberry keyone annouced
Running on Android 7.1 Nougat, the KEYone sports a lower-grade Snapdragon 625 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of expandable storage (up to 256GB via microSD) and carries a 12-megapixel primary camera and 8-megapixel selfie snapper.
The device is expected to retail for the pricey figure of $549 USD, leaving us to speculate if this will either be the device to save BlackBerry’s failing reputation or whether it’ll be the next nail in the coffin for the former Canadian giant.
Read: Beyond BlackBerry: Do Sony, LG, and HTC face extinction too?
What are your thoughts? Does the BlackBerry KEYone inspire you, or is this just another tepid attempt at recapturing glory days long since passed? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!
Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA