Yes, that really is a new BlackBerry keyboard phone


BlackBerry smartphones with their physical keyboards were around years before the iPhone emerged in 2007. Today, BlackBerry devices command less than 1 percent of the world’s smartphone market, and the company abandoned the smartphone business a year ago in favor of its management and security software.

Yet a new BlackBerry smartphone was announced this week. It’s not from BlackBerry but BlackBerry licensee, China’s TCL Communications.

In a perhaps quixotic bid to recall the glory days of BlackBerry, the TCL BlackBerry KeyOne features a 4.5-inch touchscreen as well as 52 raised physical keys in four rows at the bottom and a speedy SnapDragon 625 processor.

The device goes on sale globally in April. In the U.S., the KeyOne will cost $549 and be be available on major U.S. carriers, but first will be sold online, a strategy BlackBerry took for its series of failed smartphones in previous years due to carrier reluctance to stock the poor-selling devices.