The device comes with a QWERTY keyboard and Android 7.1 Nougat, but will it boost BlackBerry’s fortunes?
BlackBerry’s final in-house designed smartphone is now available in the UK – but to get your hands on the BlackBerry KEYone, you’ll have to go to Selfridges’ flagship store on Oxford Street.
The KEYone was first shown off at Mobile World Congress (MWC) earlier this year and comes with a 4.5 inch display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor and 12 megapixel rear camera.
The specifications are solid if unspectacular, but its two features that hardcore BlackBerry fans will love are its comparatively long battery life and QWERTY keyboard.
Read More: Hands on with the BlackBerry KeyONE
It runs Android 7.1 Nougat and is heavily customised with BlackBerry’s user interface and apps, including BlackBerry Messenger, BlackBerry Hub and DTEK security.
The device costs £499 and if you want to get it with a network or from another retailer, you’ll have to wait until 5 May.
Given BlackBerry’s recent woes it seems strange to limit the supply of its handset to one retailer (albeit temporarily) but the company evidently hopes the association with Selfridges will elevate the appeal of its product. After all, Apple did the same with the Apple Watch initially.
“We are delighted to launch the BlackBerry KEYone first in the UK with Selfridges. Selfridges, voted world’s best department store three times consecutively, have been a longtime supporter of BlackBerry,” said Johnathan Young, BlackBerry’s UK country manager.
“Our retail strategy is to be where our customers are and, as a multichannel retailer dealing in the premium end of the market, Selfridges reflects BlackBerry KEYone’s identity in the smartphone market.”
“We are thrilled to be the first UK retailer to offer customers the BlackBerry KEYone at our flagship Oxford Street store and provide them with a premium smartphone that aligns with their unique and discerning style,” added Bosse Myhr, Selfridges Director of Technology, Home and Menswear.
Once the mobile leader in the enterprise market, BlackBerry’s share has fallen dramatically since the turn of the decade as it failed to keep up with changes in demand, while Apple and Android manufacturers caught up in security and administration features.
A last-ditch attempt to revive its fortunes by switching from the delayed BlackBerry 10 OS to Android failed, despite critical acclaim. It announced its intention to exit the market last year and will now licence its brand to third parties who will both manufacture and design the devices themselves. Although designed by BlackBerry, the KEYone is made by TCL Communications.
The decision to focus on services and software appears to already be paying dividends for BlackBerry, according to its most recent financial report.