BlackBerry's new keypad phone: The company's latest suicidal move?

Barcelona - After BlackBerry recently said it would kill off production of its devices, the company has announced yet another phone through a separate manufacturer. But is the BlackBerry brand finally preparing its noose? 

On Sunday, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the company unveiled the new BlackBerry KEYone, previously code-named ‘Mercury’. 

Yes, its name is a giveaway for the full QWERTY keyboard designed in the device. 

The KEYone is the first smartphone produced through BlackBerry’s brand licensing strategy with TCL Communications.

In September last year, BlackBerry announced that it would shift its focus from designing and manufacturing smartphones to the development of secure software for devices, while partnering with third-party manufacturers to produce smartphones under the BlackBerry brand.

But the latest BlackBerry device is a suicidal move, if for no other reason than its price. 

While the KEYone is a smartphone of high quality, the €599 (about R8 223) price tag throws the device in the same price bracket as devices like the iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung S7.

Historically, even the more costly BlackBerry devices were never priced more than other smartphones that were just emerging from competitors who today dominate the market. 

Designed with the Android operating system, the KEYone 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.

The 3505 mAh battery is the largest ever included in a BlackBerry device, which 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. 

Alex Thurber, senior vice-president and general manager of mobility solutions division at BlackBerry, said:

“We’re very confident that customers of all stripes, whether they’re on #TeamBlackBerry, Android loyalists, or anyone who values mobile security and productivity, are going to love KEYone.”

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

The KEYone will become available in April.

Kyle Venktess is covering MWC 2017 in Barcelona for Fin24 on invitation from Huawei.

Follow @KyleVenktess on Twitter.

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