Last Black­Berry-de­signed phone with phys­i­cal key­board to hit stores

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - ALEKSANDRA SA­GAN

TORONTO — Fans of Black­Berry’s classic phys­i­cal key­board will have rea­son to cel­e­brate when the last prod­uct de­signed in part by the for­mer smart­phone leader be­comes avail­able in April.

The Water­loo-based firm played a role in de­vel­op­ing the KEYone, named for the re­turn of the QWERTY key­board that other smart­phone de­sign­ers have mostly long re­tired.

“Black­Berry did have some­thing to say about the in­dus­trial de­sign,” said Steve Cis­tulli, pres­i­dent of the North Amer­i­can di­vi­sion of TCL Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Tech­nol­ogy Hold- ings Ltd. (TCT).

Cis­tulli said TCT will man­u­fac- ture and sell the smart­phone in Canada and sev­eral other coun­tries as part of its part­ner­ship with Black­Berry.

The deal al­lows the com­pany to de­sign, man­u­fac­ture and sell Black­Berry-branded smart­phones that op­er­ate us­ing the tech­nol­ogy firm’s se­cu­rity soft­ware. Black­Berry re­ceives a com­mis­sion for each phone sold.

While the KEYone is the first phone to hit the mar­ket un­der this part­ner­ship, Cis­tulli in­di­cated Black­Berry will no longer play a de­sign role in any fu­ture prod­ucts.

Black­Berry CEO John Chen said last Septem­ber the com­pany was ex­it­ing the hard­ware business, which strug­gled with prof­itabil­ity as Ap­ple and oth­ers dom­i­nated the mar­ket, to fo­cus on its grow­ing se­cu­rity soft­ware op­er­a­tions.

The KEYone fea­tures a 4.5-inch touch screen, fin­ger­print sen­sor and rear- and front-fac­ing cam­eras. It comes with a mi­croSD slot that can ex­tend its built-in mem­ory by up to two ter­abytes and claims to be able to recharge up to 50 per cent in about 36 min­utes.

Cis­tulli could not pro­vide an ex­act price for Cana­di­ans, but it will re­tail south of the bor­der for US$549 and he an­tic­i­pates Cana­di­ans will likely pay that plus the ex­change rate — roughly C$720.

The com­pany ex­pects it will be sold by most Cana­dian wire­less car­ri­ers as well as on­line.

TCT will likely re­lease at least one more Black­Berry-branded phone this year, and will de­ter­mine the roll­out for the next two or three phones once it sees how the mar­ket is do­ing, he said. TCT un­veiled the KEYone at the Mo­bile World Congress in Barcelona.


The Black­Berry Mer­cury is shown in a hand­out photo. The KEYone will also fea­ture a classic key­board.

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