Skip to main content

BlackBerry KeyOne Black Edition has a keyboard and a stylish look

We were pleasantly surprised by the BlackBerry KeyOne when it launched earlier this year. The TCL-manufactured Android smartphone created something of a buzz at MWC. By offering a physical keyboard alongside the 4.5-inch touchscreen, it immediately stood out of the crowd. Now its back in black, as TCL just announced the BlackBerry KeyOne Black Edition at IFA in Berlin.

Our original BlackBerry KeyOne review praised the phone’s battery life, solid build quality, and security, but pointed out a few weaknesses, too. TCL told us they’re pleased with the success of the phone so far, but they’ve been listening to the feedback and the most common request has been a matte black version of the device. The BlackBerry KeyOne Black Edition also gave the firm the opportunity to increase the RAM from 3GB to 4GB and boost the internal storage from 32GB up to 64GB. It still has a MicroSD card slot for expansion.

They say black is slimming, and that seems to apply to phones as well, because the BlackBerry KeyOne Black Edition does look svelte next to its silvery sibling, though they’re actually the exact same size. The matte black finish is understated and feels more in keeping with the BlackBerry brand than the silver, but it’s not entirely black — there are some silver highlights on the buttons.

Here’s the rub — it’s only available in specific markets.

If you’re thinking that this sounds familiar, that’s because a very similar device has been launched in India already, though it’s manufactured by Optiemus Infracom, rather than TCL. There’s also a Space Black version of the BlackBerry KeyOne available exclusively through AT&T, but it lacks the extra RAM and storage space.

The BlackBerry KeyOne Black Edition is manufactured by TCL and it goes on sale very soon — by the end of the third quarter of 2017, so probably in late September. Here’s the rub — it’s only available in specific markets, initially the U.K., Germany, France, Canada, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Japan. If you fancy getting your hands on one, then you’ll have to pay 649 euros, 549 British pounds, or 799 Canadian dollars.

Everything that made the original good is retained here, including the 12-megapixel camera, the BlackBerry suite of apps, and that tactile keyboard. The extra RAM and storage in the BlackBerry KeyOne Black Edition is definitely welcome, but we can’t help feeling that the company might have done better updating the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor.

In any case, the fact that TCL is putting out the Black Edition tells you that the phone has been a success. François Mahieu, head of global sales for TCL, told Digital Trends that KeyOne sales have surpassed expectations and we can definitely expect a sequel. But before that, we might just see the release of an all-touchscreen BlackBerry. We’ll have more news for you on that front soon.

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Hill
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Simon Hill is an experienced technology journalist and editor who loves all things tech. He is currently the Associate Mobile…
TCL won’t make BlackBerry phones anymore, sending the brand back into limbo
BlackBerry Key2 LE review

TCL Communication has announced it will no longer be making BlackBerry smartphones, after taking over the dormant brand at the end of 2016, and bringing it back to life with a series of ever-improving devices. In a statement tweeted out by the official BlackBerry Mobile account, TCL Communication does not have the rights to design, manufacture, or sell BlackBerry phones any longer.

This means the BlackBerry Key 2 LE will be the last BlackBerry-branded phone produced by TCL Communication to be released, and it follows the BlackBerry Key 2, and the BlackBerry KeyOne. TCL Communication’s BlackBerry phones took the features fans of the brand loved — the physical keyboard, long battery life, and extra levels of security — and put them inside modern hardware with Google Android software. While not for everyone, they were successful with those either familiar with the brand, or those looking for something a little different.
What does this mean for BlackBerry?
The future of BlackBerry phones is once again unknown. While TCL Communication will not make another BlackBerry phone, it does not necessarily mean we will never see another BlackBerry phone. It’s possible the global license could be snapped up by another company eager to capitalize on the brand’s highly recognizable name. HMD Global, for example, has seen considerable success with the Nokia name since acquiring the license, while British phone maker Bullitt owns the license to make phones from brands including Cat, JCB, and Land Rover.

Read more
BlackBerry will provide cybersecurity for future Jaguar Land Rover vehicles
jaguar land rover and blackberry expand tech partnership

In 2018, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and BlackBerry announced a partnership that would see BlackBerry tech used in future JLR vehicles. The original scope of the partnership included a next-generation infotainment system, but now the two companies have expanded it to include other new tech.

A BlackBerry press release said the company would provide JLR with artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine-learning tech for future vehicles. BlackBerry was light on details about how this tech would be used, only noting that "predictive software maintenance" and "cybersecurity threat protection" were among the possible applications.

Read more
BlackBerry Key2 LE: Everything you need to know
The BlackBerry Key2 LE is back home at Verizon, but only for business types
BlackBerry Key2 LE Hands On

The BlackBerry Key LE is a lower-cost version of the Key2, doing away with some of the more high-tech features seen on the expensive sister phone, and cutting costs by using different materials for the body, to create a more affordable but still distinctly BlackBerry smartphone.

You can check out our Key2 LE review to learn more about what it's like to live with the phone, but in the meantime, here are all the technical specs, details, and availability options.
The BlackBerry Key2 LE is available to buy at Verizon, but only to business and enterprise customers, according to reports. Verizon's selling the Key2 LE for $450 without a contract, or for $100 if you sign up for a two-year plan. The phone does not show up on Verizon's non-business store, so there does not seem to be the option to buy the phone for this price without a business plan.

Read more