TCL's BlackBerry Mobile imprint has introduced a revamped BlackBerry KEYone smartphone at IFA trade show last week. The new KEYone Black Edition comes in all-black chassis and has more DRAM and storage space than the original KEYone model introduced at MWC earlier this year. The product will be available in multiple countries, but the U.S. is currently not listed among them.

Traditionally, Research in Motion and then BlackBerry Limited developed most of their smartphones with business customers in mind and this prompted them to use strict designs and colors. Since black fits business environments well and looks good with almost any other color, most of BlackBerry handsets were black, sometimes with grey metallic inlays. Such methodology is fully understandable, yet when Nokia released its E-series smartphones in the mid-2000s, it took a bold approach and started to offer them in multiple colors. Eventually, BlackBerry Mobile took a page from Nokia’s book and introduced its Passport silver edition for those who prefer metallic, but only after it released an all-black Passport. With the KEYone, BlackBerry Mobile took a different tactic and launched the phone in metallic-with-black finish first, which looks very high-tech, but may not appeal to everyone from BlackBerry’s traditional customer base. The KEYone Black Edition makes the new BlackBerry completely black.

The KeyONE BE continues to use the frame made of anodized aluminum, but the color of the frame is now black, not metallic. BlackBerry Mobile does not disclose details about its anodization process and how durable the frame is. It is possible that BlackBerry has been experimenting with black anodized aluminum for a while, which is why it did not release an all-black version earlier this year as it wanted to ensure that the quality and robustness of its materials.

Meanwhile, the KEYone Black Edition is not only about the color. The BE version comes with 4 GB of LPDDR3 DRAM, up from 3 GB on the regular model, and 64 GB of eMMC storage, up from 32 GB on the original unit. Considering that Android OS benefits from higher amount of DRAM, the upgrade will be welcome by many. Storage may not be the most required feature for business users, but 32 GB in general is not a lot. Therefore, expanding storage capacity to 64 GB is a good move.

From computing, imaging and other standpoints, the BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition is exactly the same as the regular one: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC, a 4.5” LCD display with Gorilla Glass 4, Qualcomm’s X9 LTE modem, a 3500 mAh battery, a 12 MP camera and so on.

BlackBerry KEYone Specifcations
  KEYone KEYone Black Edition
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 (MSM8953)
8x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 2.0 GHz
Adreno 506
Storage 32 GB (eMMC) 64 GB (eMMC)
Display 4.5-inch 1620x1080 (434 ppi) with Gorilla Glass 4
4G: depends on the version

Canada, LATAM, APAC, US V1:
LTE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 28, 29, 30
TDD LTE: 38, 39, 40, 41

LTE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 20, 28
TDD LTE: 38, 40

US V2:
LTE: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 30
CDMA: BC 0, 1, 10

LTE Down: 300 Mb/s
Up: 150 Mb/s
Audio Stereo speakers
3.5-mm TRRS audio jack
Rear Camera 12 MP with f/2.0 aperture and dual LED flash
Front Camera 8 MP
Battery 3505 mAh with Qualcomm's FastCharging 3.0
OS Android 7.1
Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, USB-C  
Sensors Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, proximity, ambient light
Navigation GPS, GLONASS (?)
SIM Size NanoSIM
Colors Black/Metallic Black
Launch Country NA, EMEA (parts), APAC U.K., Germany, France, Canada, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Japan
Price $549/€599/£499 €649/£549/$799 CAD/2,299 AED/ ¥79,800

Now, time to talk pricing and availability. The BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition will be available starting from September in the U.K., Germany, France, Canada, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Japan starting at €649/£549/$799 CAD/2,299 AED/ ¥79,800. BlackBerry Mobile also plans to make the product available in other markets in Europe, Asia and Latin America later this year. For some reason, the KEYone BE is not going to be available in the U.S., at least officially.

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  • tipoo - Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - link

    >8x ARM Cortex A53

    y u do this. Especially at this price.

    I can only imagine a 2+2 setup would be far better, with two larger cores. Granted we already know the answer, A53s are so small and trivial to sprinkle in and easy to market 8 cores. But even infinity A53s won't make a poopy bit of Javascript feel fast.
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - link

    Unfortunately Qualcomm fought and lost that battle a few years ago. When Mediatek and Allwinner started hyping 8x crap core designs for entry/mid level phones Qualcomm executives vigorously tore into them as being stupid and inefficient designs for a month or two before abruptly surrendering and annoucing their own 8x trash designs after their customers made it clear the question wasn't if they were going to go with the bigger marketing number or not, but if they were going to go with Qualcomm or not.
  • satai - Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - link

    The SoC still terribly sucks for such a price.
  • josby - Thursday, September 7, 2017 - link

    IMO a little lag is a small price to pay for a keyboard, long battery life, and monthly OS patches.
  • Samus - Thursday, September 7, 2017 - link

    A little lag? A $20 SoC in a $800 smartphone is appalling.
  • Samus - Thursday, September 7, 2017 - link

    ^ Canadian price.
  • tipoo - Friday, September 8, 2017 - link

    Large ARM SoCs don't cost much more than that, but I agree that only A53 cores in this price point is pretty ugly. Wish they would show some...Ahem...Courage, and go with two high performing cores, that would be better for 90% of userfeel interactions.
  • uhuznaa - Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - link

    It's ironic that I thought years ago that this is what RIM/Blackberry should come with. Too little, too late? Probably.
  • yhselp - Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - link

    $550 for A53?! Is this real life?
  • shabby - Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - link

    Its $600 actually, no this is fantasy... blackberry fantasy.

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