MWC – THAT new BlackBerry. Hands-on with the KEYone

This was tucked away around the back of the Alcatel stand but there was no shortage in interest. It’s a bit of a heavy thing at 180g and we’ve already posted a BlackBerry KEYone gallery after it leaked all over the place last Saturday morning.

This one is actually made by TCL Communication and I was looking for differences on the keyboard. Something that made it “not quite BlackBerry” but… no, that keyboard brought back all the memories from my last BlackBerry, even though there’s a 4.5″ Android panel directly above it now. It felt sturdy, I could locate all the keys with my fat thumbs and .. it was BlackBerry.

Android 7.1 will give BlackBerry owners access to Google Play and the endless amount of apps, but you still get a secure experience with the BlackBerry Security software and a fingerprint sensor.

There’s two cameras – a 12 megapixel rear shooter with a flash and a front 8 megapixel unit. It measures in at 149.3 mm x 72.5 mm and is 9.4 mm thick, which makes it a little chunky.

Hardware keys include the volume controls, a lock (power on / off and the customisable BlackBerry Convenience Key. You can use this to open the camera or to mute an active call.

The screen has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which leads us into a 1620×1080 IPS LCD screen at 433 ppi. The KEYone has 3GB RAM, 32GB storage and a microSD slot for another 2TB. All of this runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Octa-Core 2.0 GHz CPU with a 64-bit Adreno 506 650MHz GPU. It’s charged via a USB Type-C port and the 3505 mAh battery supports Quick Charge 3.0 so you can get to a 50% charge in just over 30 minutes.

Those looking for the BlackBerry apps will find BlackBerry Keyboard, BlackBerry Hub, BlackBerry Calendar, BlackBery Contacts and, yes, BBM… if anyone uses that any more. A whole host of other BlackBerry apps are in there too – Password Keeper, Content Transfer and BlackBerry Launcher.

GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC is also under the hood. You can register to pre-order here. Price is expected to be $549 or £499 SIM free when it arrives.