Saturday 17 March 2018

BlackBerry may be back as company unveils new smartphone with trademark full keyboard

BlackBerry KeyONE smartphone
BlackBerry KeyONE smartphone
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

The company that once dominated smartphones before falling off a cliff has made the first big news of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

At a press launch this evening, the company introduced KeyONE, a new smartphone with a full physical Qwerty keyboard placed below a 4.5-inch touchscreen.

The phone's operating system is based on Android, with some BlackBerry touches to the interface, such as a 'BlackBerry Hub' from which emails, texts and Facebook messages can be controlled.

In terms of other specifications, it ranks alongside mid-to-high end phones from the likes of Samsung, Sony and Huawei.

It has a 12-megapixel main camera (with an 8-megapixel selfie camera) and a larger-than-average battery (3,505mAh). Its touchscreen is 'full HD' (1620x1080) and it's powered by a Snapdragon 625 processor and 3GB of Ram. Like most new Android phones, it uses USB-C for fast charging and it has 32GB of storage.

One novel feature is that all of its 52 physical keys can be programmed as shortcuts to launch applications. So the letter 'f' can be programmed to launch Facebook, 't' for Twitter and so on.

There is no indication yet of whether the new BlackBerry KeyONE will get an Irish launch through a local mobile operator. However, there are still thousands of BlackBerry users in Ireland, even though the vast majority have quit the system for iPhones and Android devices.

Most of the world's big phone manufacturers are present at Mobile World Congress to give updates on new models coming down the line. Over 100,000 people are expected to attend the Barcelona event. At least 30 Irish companies are manning stalls, hoping to win business from the world's major mobile companies.

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