TCL's BlackBerry Mobile imprint has introduced a revamped BlackBerry KEYone smartphone at IFA trade show last week. The new KEYone Black Edition comes in all-black chassis and has more DRAM and storage space than the original KEYone model introduced at MWC earlier this year. The product will be available in multiple countries, but the U.S. is currently not listed among them.

Traditionally, Research in Motion and then BlackBerry Limited developed most of their smartphones with business customers in mind and this prompted them to use strict designs and colors. Since black fits business environments well and looks good with almost any other color, most of BlackBerry handsets were black, sometimes with grey metallic inlays. Such methodology is fully understandable, yet when Nokia released its E-series smartphones in the mid-2000s, it took a bold approach and started to offer them in multiple colors. Eventually, BlackBerry Mobile took a page from Nokia’s book and introduced its Passport silver edition for those who prefer metallic, but only after it released an all-black Passport. With the KEYone, BlackBerry Mobile took a different tactic and launched the phone in metallic-with-black finish first, which looks very high-tech, but may not appeal to everyone from BlackBerry’s traditional customer base. The KEYone Black Edition makes the new BlackBerry completely black.

The KeyONE BE continues to use the frame made of anodized aluminum, but the color of the frame is now black, not metallic. BlackBerry Mobile does not disclose details about its anodization process and how durable the frame is. It is possible that BlackBerry has been experimenting with black anodized aluminum for a while, which is why it did not release an all-black version earlier this year as it wanted to ensure that the quality and robustness of its materials.

Meanwhile, the KEYone Black Edition is not only about the color. The BE version comes with 4 GB of LPDDR3 DRAM, up from 3 GB on the regular model, and 64 GB of eMMC storage, up from 32 GB on the original unit. Considering that Android OS benefits from higher amount of DRAM, the upgrade will be welcome by many. Storage may not be the most required feature for business users, but 32 GB in general is not a lot. Therefore, expanding storage capacity to 64 GB is a good move.

From computing, imaging and other standpoints, the BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition is exactly the same as the regular one: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, a 4.5” LCD display with Gorilla Glass 4, Qualcomm’s X9 LTE modem, a 3500 mAh battery, a 12 MP camera and so on.

BlackBerry KEYone Specifcations
  KEYone KEYone Black Edition
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 (MSM8953)
8x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 2.0 GHz
Adreno 506
Storage 32 GB (eMMC) 64 GB (eMMC)
Display 4.5-inch 1620x1080 (434 ppi) with Gorilla Glass 4
4G: depends on the version

Canada, LATAM, APAC, US V1:
LTE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 28, 29, 30
TDD LTE: 38, 39, 40, 41

LTE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 20, 28
TDD LTE: 38, 40

US V2:
LTE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30
CDMA: BC 0, 1, 10

LTE Down: 300 Mb/s
Up: 150 Mb/s
Audio Stereo speakers
3.5-mm TRRS audio jack
Rear Camera 12 MP with f/2.0 aperture and dual LED flash
Front Camera 8 MP
Battery 3505 mAh with Qualcomm's FastCharging 3.0
OS Android 7.1
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, USB-C  
Sensors Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, proximity, ambient light
Navigation GPS, GLONASS (?)
SIM Size NanoSIM
Colors Black/Metallic Black
Launch Country NA, EMEA (parts), APAC U.K., Germany, France, Canada, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Japan
Price $549/€599/£499 €649/£549/$799 CAD/2,299 AED/ ¥79,800

Now, time to talk pricing and availability. The BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition will be available starting from September in the U.K., Germany, France, Canada, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Japan starting at €649/£549/$799 CAD/2,299 AED/ ¥79,800. BlackBerry Mobile also plans to make the product available in other markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America later this year. For some reason, the KEYone BE is not going to be available in the U.S., at least officially.

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  • kgardas - Thursday, September 7, 2017 - link

    Make that wide as my passport silver and I buy one immediately. Unfortunately this is too narrow...
  • vanilla_gorilla - Thursday, September 7, 2017 - link

    I was a Blackberry user until the iPhone 4s and I've been using iPhones since then. I STILL can't type for !@#$ on an iPhone. The original KeyONE and this are both very interesting to me. Screen is plenty big and it has a keyboard.
  • Samus - Thursday, September 7, 2017 - link

    Wow, ditto. I switched from Blackberry to Palm for a brief period, until HP destroyed them. The HP Veer is still the most amazing phone I ever had. It had quirks, like a crappy camera, but for something the size of an egg, it was quite powerful, and the keyboard was great.

    The iPhone 4S was definitely a learning curve being the first touch screen keyboard I used exclusively. I had a short lived experience with the HTC G1 with its slider keyboard in 2009, until Google basically killed it off by not updating the software before the community rallied around the phone and made dozens of custom distro's.

    So I'm still an iPhone user. I went from an iPhone 4S (which I had for nearly 4 years) to an iPhone 6 in 2015, and still have the 6. I've tried the Typo keyboard (Typo 2 to be exact) but it isn't nearly as good as the original Typo for the iPhone 5's. The real downside of both is you lose TouchID, but the other downsides are not easy to ignore. They charge separately, and use a Micro USB plug instead of Lightning. Then there is the fact they make the phone quite long.
  • tipoo - Friday, September 8, 2017 - link

    I've been on iPhone for years and still find the virutal keyboard frustrating. An Android phone with a good BB keyboard definitely has appeal.

    Just, the SoC is a crap choice for the price.
  • josby - Thursday, September 7, 2017 - link

    I'd gladly pay $600 for this. Hell, I'd pay $800. But considering the Verizon-compatible version of the original was released three months ago and I've only just now been able to catch them in stock anywhere, I don't hold out much hope of being able to get one of these even if they do release them in the U.S. I think they must be selling a lot more than they expected to.
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, September 7, 2017 - link

    I really miss having a physical keyboard on my phone. Yeah, there's a lot more space to display information on an identically sized device that lacks the keyboard, but it was really easy to tap out an e-mail or edit a document on a Blackberry. I still have trouble with on-screen keyboards on Android devices these days.
  • josby - Friday, September 8, 2017 - link

    I have strangers come up to me and say something like this almost every time I use my BB Priv out in public. I think if BB can keep these in retail stores so people are aware they're an option, they stand a good chance. With the focus on thinness and screen size over, I think people are focusing more on utility.
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, September 8, 2017 - link

    I hope you're right. The industry needs some variety in handsets. It seems like we've stagnated around a basic design template when it comes to phones. Yeah, it works, but there are compromises and I'd love to see some different approaches that might spawn new ideas or at least appeal to niche buyers.
  • twtech - Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - link

    If you're willing to try something a bit more out there, I recommend the MessagEase keyboard.

    Most phone keyboards are more or less computer keyboards translated to a touchscreen, which in turn were adapted from manual-typewriter keyboards - so the net result is, our phone keyboard ends up being a drastically scaled down version of a button array designed to avoid typewriter letter arms from physically colliding with each other.

    MessagEase is completely different, but designed for a touchscreen phone. Once you get used to it, it's pretty fast, and doesn't need to rely on auto-complete type functionality.
  • ironargonaut - Thursday, September 14, 2017 - link

    qwerty keyboards button array is designed to place the most often used characters in the middle and the least used farther out nothing to do with keeping typewriter arms from hitting each other.

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