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BlackBerry Still Isn't Dead, and a New Phone is On the Way

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Blackberry KEYone phone

BlackBerry and TCL pitch the KeyOne as a phone created to simply be good at doing phone stuff.

BlackBerry is back with its final smartphone, the QWERTY keyboard-toting, business-focussed BlackBerry KeyOne, previously codenamed Mercury.

BlackBerry will make the KeyOne available this April from $550. It is somewhat like gesture typing on a screen except on the KEYone you actually have a physical keyboard. The keyboard's spacebar doubles as a fingerprint sensor, while the keyboard itself pulls double-duty as a scroll pad. TLC has launched its first Blackberry licensed phone with physical keyboard, which used to be the most iconic feature of a Blackberry.

The KeyOne has an industrial design - and it reminds of the BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition.

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There's another time-saver on the right side of the device. You'll even get alerts when an app tries to access features such as your camera, microphone or contacts.

The KEYone has an unusual 4.5in screen with a 3:2 ratio.

You will notice some bulk: the KEYone tips the scales at around 6.3 ounces. It is also one of the few devices that come with Android 7.1 rather than just 7.0 out of the box. Under the hood, the KEYone is powered by a 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octacore chip, a 3GB of RAM and an Adreno 506 GPU.

Battery life should be more than impressive, BlackBerry is promising, thanks to a couple of factors.

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Ken Haier, the director of emerging device strategies at Strategy Analytics' global wireless practice, believes that TCL's ambition this year to stabilize the brand's share is doable, especially given BlackBerry's tiny volumes. The latest phone from the brand can still be called a sensation, because it not just looks good but it also packed with a lot of good features. Above the keys, below the display, there's the traditional Android trio of capacitive buttons. That rear camera boasts 1.55-micron pixels, and Walpole says it uses the same sensor found in the Google Pixel. If you're a single-app-use productivity worker this might not matter, but in the premium space this won't compare all that well.

The first official day of the Mobile World Congress starts on Monday, but companies always hold their events a day or two earlier. Courtesy of the DTEK app which will be preloaded onto the phone, users will have far more granular control over security settings than competitors permit. The market for the KEYone is not large enough for BlackBerry to ever regain its spot, but it might sell in enough numbers for BlackBerry to see a small bump. The phone features precision crafted aluminum frame for protection against scratches. There is no Gorilla Glass protection over the display but the company claims it to be scratch resistant.

BlackBerry is back with a new phone, and unlike its past couple of releases, this one's got a physical keyboard.

The phone is priced at $549 in the USA, £441 in the United Kingdom and €599 in other European Union countries.

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