TCL will sell its BlackBerry branded KeyOne in Australia from July

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TCL will sell its BlackBerry-branded KeyOne smartphone in Australia from next month for $899.

As was revealed when the phone launched in March, the KeyOne isn’t really a BlackBerry handset. TCL Communications, a China phone-maker, bought the rights to use BlackBerry branding last year so the phone is a TCL rather than BlackBerry handset.

It is an Android phone with BlackBerry software and services installed, and an old-style BlackBerry Qwerty keyboard that doubles as a trackpad.

It’s an interesting proposition, especially in terms of security. Consumers harbour suspicions of security surrounding China-branded phones yet BlackBerry is pitched on the basis of offering a superior security product.

TCL’s focus on the keyboard comes as the market moves towards voice-to-text and natural language speech rather than emphasising on new keyboard tricks.

Those tricks include up to 52 customisable shortcuts, and flick typing with predictive text. You can flick predicted words up onto the screen to select them as you type. It has a fingerprint sensor embedded in the space bar.

The KeyOne has an aluminium frame, a textured back that’s easy to grip, and a 4.5-inch screen protected with Gorilla Glass 4. The phone is powered by Android 7.1 Nougat.

While it’s an Android device, there’s traces of the BlackBerry of yesteryear with the BlackBerry Hub, and a very large 3505 milliampere hour battery that TCL says will power more than 26 hours of mixed use.

It says Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 will recharge the phone to 50 per cent in about 36 minutes.

BlackBerry’s DTEK offers constant security monitoring.

There’s a 12 megapixel Sony-branded back facing lens with large 1.55μm pixels, dual-tone flash and a wide aperture. The 8 MP front facing camera has a fixed focus, LCD Flash, and an 84-degree wide angle lens. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 mobile platform processor.

It will sell at JB Hi-Fi from July. You can pre-order now.

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