THE BLACKBERRY IS BACK
This year, nostalgia dominated Mobile World Congress – the largest mobile technology conference in the world. Companies vied for the public’s attention with the likes of 5G networks, autonomous racing cars and smart wearables, but the undeniable stars of the show were two rehabilitated gadgets from the past: the Nokia 3310 (turn to p29) and the BlackBerry KEYOne.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that BlackBerry had been consigned to the big tech rubbish heap in the sky, along with the likes of Palm Pilots and Google Glass. But the BlackBerry brand was recently bought by Chinese company TCL, which wants to resurrect the device for the surprising number of people who still pine after diminutive physical keyboards on their smartphones.
The device isn’t on sale yet, so we can’t offer full judgment, but we can say that it seems like the phone’s aimed at the business users that made BlackBerry so popular in the first place. The qwerty keyboard doubles as a giant trackpad, letting you browse the web with touch gestures. Meanwhile, its keys can be programmed to launch apps and there’s a fingerprint sensor built in to the spacebar. Since security is important for a work phone, the KEYOne comes loaded with software called DTEK, which is supposed to constantly monitor for security threats – BlackBerry claims it’ll be the most secure Android device in the world.
Yep, that’s right, the phone runs on Android. This is in contrast to most recent BlackBerry iterations, which were bereft of apps due to its own-brand operating system. The phone’s hardware is on par with most current Android phones and it’ll hold the same great camera found in Google’s Pixel phone. Out at the end of April, the KEYOne probably won’t have us giving up our iPhones or Google Pixels any time soon, but it will appeal to the company’s cult across Europe.