After recent delays with the release of the BlackBerry KeyONE, which is being manufactured by China’s TCL Communications, TCL GM and President Steve Cistulli says long-suffering BlackBerry fans can expect some news next week.
“Some more KEY news coming your way next week… Stay tuned!” Cistulli tweeted yesterday. along with a picture of the BlackBerry KeyONE.
Android Authority writer Kris Carlon speculated that next week’s announcement could be regarding the official pricing and availability of the new phone which has been branded with BlackBerry’s name. KeyONE, which was previously referred to by the code name Mercury, features a slim and sleek design, alongside a physical keyboard which die-hard BlackBerry fans appear to go bananas for, was expected to release on February 25th of this year, but that date came and went.
The delay may be especially bad news for the latest iteration of the BlackBerry that isn’t a BlackBerry. The wait may end up hurting its sales potential as it’s now expected to be released around the same time as other much more popular Android series such as the LG G6 and Galaxy S8. But BlackBerry followers are known for their loyalty towards the brand, if not their enormous numbers, so it may not change projections too much.
TCL and BlackBerry struck a deal in late 2016 that allows TCL to manufacture phones under the BlackBerry brand, so BlackBerry is not directly related to the manufacturing of the KeyONE. Financially that works better for BlackBerry as its last couple phones, the DTEK and PRIV didn’t fare too well.
When the KeyONE was first announced, it received a lot of praise from social media but now that the release is getting closer and closer not everyone is as approving, some seem to think it may be set up to fail.
“Yes, BlackBerry is playing to its fans, but how many will switch from an existing phone to buy a new smartphone that is not even manufactured by BlackBerry. At $549, BlackBerry must sure hope there are enough people who think the keyboard and security are really big issues for them when it comes to a smartphone,”said Nandagopal Rajan a tech writer who reviewed the phone for The Indian Express.
As mentioned, the KeyONE will feature one of BlackBerry’s signature items, the physical QWERTY keyboard. It will run on Android Nougat 7.0 and may later support Android Nougat 7.1. It has USB type-C support, a metal body with a dimpled soft back, is rumored to have a long-lasting battery, and a fingerprint sensor built-in to the phones space bar.
It is expected that the KeyONE will come in with a mid-range phones price tag, somewhat similar to the DTEK50, which CNET referred to as a $300 phone that feels like a $200 phone.
That review had a rather unflattering take on the phone in particular and BlackBerry’s new manufacturing arrangement in general.
“There’re just a few problems. It isn’t made by BlackBerry, doesn’t run a BlackBerry operating system and doesn’t really make your phone secure, said CNET editors.
A full breakdown of KeyONE specs can be found here.