TCL has revealed the BlackBerry KEYone at MWC in Barcelona, the final name of their long rumoured ‘Project Mercury’. the new Android based BlackBerry device features a Snapdragon 625 processor, integrated BlackBerry Security and a revamped keyboard.
Featuring a 4.5” display, the Blackberry KEYone comes with two cameras, offering a 12MP camera on the back and an 8MP front-facing camera, as well as 32GB of storage for saving down documents and photos.
The device is to be available to purchase globally beginning in April for £499 in the UK, with Carphone Warehouse opening pre-registration for the device.
Rob Maule, UK buying director for mobiles at Carphone Warehouse, said: ‘We’re hugely excited to be working with Blackberry to bring out its brand-new smartphone. Combining the best of the past with a modern twist, the Mercury is the perfect device for consumers having longed for a premium phone with a physical keyboard making it quick and easy to type out long e-mails, or message with friends or colleagues all day long.’
Collaborating once again with old owners BlackBerry, the device will receive monthly security updates, full use of their DTEK app and mobility solution focused security for individuals and businesses.
Keeping the traditional keyboard design, but incorporating swipe and gesture type controls as a ‘smart keyboard’ to allow track pad use, it also allows custom shortcut programming on 52 keyboard buttons.
Running on the latests version of Android, the device takes advantage of features such as split display mode, while custom additions such as BlackBerry Hub aggregate all notifications and emails into one space.
Featuring a 3,505mAh battery, supported by Boost fast charging, the company claims a full day of battery life even for power users, achieving a 50% charge in 38 minutes.
The aluminium frame and gorilla glass display bolsters the devices durability credentials, while a gripped back reduces the risk of damage by dropping.
Senior product manager Logan Bell explained at the event, ‘You will not see anything like the KEYone at MWC, it’s designed not just for enterprise but for enterprise consumers.
Nicolas Zibell, CEO of TCL Communication discussed their expectations for the relaunched BlackBerry brand stating, ‘Blackberry is a new challenger smartphone in the premium space, for users concerned with privacy but also for those who dare to be different.’
Rival manufacturers recently told Mobile that convergence between what makes for a consumer device, and what makes for a B2B device has increased to the extent that the market for business-only devices is increasingly limited. TCL begs to differ, and perhaps the industry does too. With the exception of the HP Elite X3, 2016 saw a significant drought of business focused devices, leaving dealers struggling to incentivise and push the upgrade cycle which previously formed the bread and butter of dealers.
Swooping in at a reasonable pricing point and a roster of features matching enterprise demand for flexible working, there is potential for the KEYone to be the key one for business users, but there’s a lot of work to be done in the channel. As their CEO admits, the reformed Blackberry device brand has been knocked back to challenger status, and part of this challenge will be rebuilding the partnerships and support they once enjoyed amongst the UK’s B2B dealers and distributors.