By Thomas Shambler
BlackBerry has kicked off Mobile World Congress 2017 with the keyboard-toting KeyOne
Meet the BlackBerry KeyOne – an Android-powered smartphone with a proper, physical keyboard. It's the first phone made in partnership with Chinese company TCL. They produce the hardware, while BlackBerry adds the software. It signifies a comeback – of sorts – for the ailing technology company which has recently seen its market share drop to almost 0 percent.
Good news for keyboard fans – the buttons are back. Last year's DTEK50 and DTEK60 smartphone did away with the physical keyboard, in favour of an all-screen design more akin to an iPhone than a traditional Blackberry. The new device puts the keyboard right below the 4.5in touchscreen.
The keyboard can be programmed for up to 52 shortcuts – for instance, pressing the 'm' button will open up Google Maps. The space bar doubles as a fingerprint sensor for additional security.
The slightly odd-shaped display (to make room for that keyboard) has a 1620x1080 full HD resolution. It's made of hardened Gorilla Glass 4, meaning it's more resistant to drops and scratches.
Despite running Google's Android operating system, there's plenty about the KeyOne to make it a proper BlackBerry. The Hub, for example, puts all your messages into one place, and BlackBerry Messenger comes as standard.
There's also plenty of security – which is a big focus for BlackBerry. The KeyOne includes all manner of tools for keeping viruses and hackers at bay, and BlackBerry maintains that it's the most secure Android phone in the world.
The KeyOne packs a 12-megapixel Sony IMX378 camera sensor – the same as used in Google's Pixel phones. They are some of the best camera sensors currently available, so the KeyOne should be able to take images that rival the best smartphone snappers out there. Round the front, there's an 8-megapixel camera for selfies, though it's probably more likely to be used for videoconferencing.
It's got a premium all-metal build, with a soft-textured back, along with a USB-C charging port at the bottom.
While no UAE prices have been revealed, it will compete directly with other flagship smartphones from the likes of Apple and Samsung. It's expected to cost between DHS2,200 and DHS2,600 when it arrives in April.