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MWC 2017: TCL launches BlackBerry KEYone

Alex Yau
February 26, 2017

It is the first BlackBerry handset launched by the Chinese company since purchasing brand licensing rights last year

The first BlackBerry handset launched by TCL Communication has been unveiled at Mobile World Congress (MWC).

TCL, also the parent group of Alcatel, launched the new BlackBerry KEYone at Mobile World in Barcelona on February 25. It is the first major handset launch at the annual conference and comes after BlackBerry announced in September it would outsource all manufacturing to third parties following a disastrous decline in smartphone shipments, down from 52 million in 2011 to seven million in 2015.

The new smartphone comes in an aluminium frame which TCL claims offers the best in durability. It has a 4.5-inch HD screen made of Gorilla Glass 4, which is designed to offer more scratch and impact resistance. The trademark BlackBerry keyboard has also been included at the bottom of the device.

A unique feature of the keyboard is the gesture control. Similar to previous BlackBerry trackpads, users can simply swipe on the keyboard to navigate through the web, emails or use it to write messages. Shortcuts can also be assigned to each key; I for access the email inbox or M for maps. A fingerprint sensor has been installed in the space bar.

The phone runs on Android 7.1, the latest Google operating system, and comes with BlackBerry Hub. Hub allows users to view texts, emails and social media messages from one location without having to switch apps.

Security on the phone sets it apart from all other Android devices, according to TCL. It comes with DTEK software which monitors the security of the operating system and all the apps, alongside notifying owners when their privacy is at risk. It offers a security rating and suggests ways which users can improve this. Notifications will also be sent if any third party accesses the camera or other apps without the owner’s permission.

Inside of the product is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. TCL claims the smartphone’s 3,505mAh battery can be charged up to 50 per cent in roughly 36 minutes. A 12MP rear camera has been added with an ‘industry leading’ Sony camera sensor. The front of the device has an 8MP snapper.

BlackBerry senior vice president Alex Thurber said: “We want to congratulate TCL Communication on the launch of KEYone. We have worked closely with TCL to build security and the BlackBerry experience into every layer of KEYone, so the BlackBerry DNA remains very much in place. We couldn’t be more excited to help bring it to market and introduce it to BlackBerry fans.”

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