BlackBerry's latest with full keypad hits SA next week

Johannesburg - In an age when most smartphones are in slate form, Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry is set to launch a device in South Africa with full physical QWERTY keyboard next week. 

The KEYone was announced earlier this year in Barcelona, Spain during the Mobile World Congress, and the company has since indicated that the smartphone may be available locally by next week. 

The device, previously code-named Mercury, is designed with the Android operating system and has access to all Google Play apps, the BlackBerry Hub unified messaging inbox, and monthly Google security patch updates.

The device features a 5-inch display with 1620×1080 Full HD resolution, while its display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4.

READ: BlackBerry's swansong coming to SA

The 3505 mAh battery is the largest ever included in a BlackBerry device and can receive a 50% charge in 36 minutes.

The device features a 12 megapixel rear camera using a Sony IMX378 sensor and an 8 megapixel facing camera. 

BlackBerry boasts that the KEYone was built on the world’s most secure Android software platform, based on Android 7.1 Nougat.


The KEYone has widely been regarded by Android experts as the best smartphone with a full physical QWERTY – in competition only with international smartphone releases by Nokia, Samsung and Motorola. 

In South Africa, the KEYone will be one of the only smartphones available with a QWERTY keyboard, with the manufacturer previously dubbing the strategy as a generational and preference option for the consumer. 

In late 2016, BlackBerry announced that it would kill off production of the device to focus on secure software development, with the KEYone being the first smartphone produced through BlackBerry’s brand licensing strategy with TCL Communications.

While the KEYone is a smartphone of high quality, the €599 (about R9 070) price tag throws the device in the same price bracket as devices like the iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung S7.

However, according to mobile specification website GSArena, the KEYone in the UK saw a price drop, with the device now available for £449 (R7 607).

Local pricing has not been announced yet. 

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