Chinese electronics company TCL unveiled its first BlackBerry-licensed smartphone which brings back the device's signature physical keyboard as it seeks to revive the once mighty brand.
The KEYone phone has a larger screen than previous BlackBerry devices and a fast charging battery as TCL sets its sights on businesses and tries to rekindle BlackBerry's strong reputation for productivity and security.
TCL reached the brand-licensing deal in December after the Canadian company announced that it would halt in-house production of smartphones, marking the end of an era for the once-dominant tech firm. Under the agreement, BlackBerry will remain in control of software and security on smartphones, while TCL will handle creating handsets powered by Google Android software.
Officials from both firms unveiled the KEYone in Barcelona in northeastern Spain ahead of the start on Monday of the four-day Mobile World Congress, the world's largest annual phone expo.
BlackBerry's physical keyboard was one of the drivers of the popularity of its earlier phones, but it was dropped once touch screens became popular. The company in 2014 launched a "Classic" smartphone that brought back the keyboard but the device was discontinued in July. In the new Blackberry phone the keyboard can be used for more than just typing. The spacebar on the keyboard also doubles as a fingerprint sensor while individual letter keys can be programmed as shortcuts to open specific apps.
The KEYone will go on sale around the globe in April at a cost of 599 euros ($549).