5 things you need to know about the BlackBerry KeyOne

1. It has a keyboard! 2. It has a keyboard! 3. It has a keyboard! etc

BlackBerry has kicked off Mobile World Congress 2017 with its latest attempt to recapture the glory days.

The BlackBerry KeyOne is an Android-powered, physical keyboard-packing premium device with loads of interesting features.

Formerly known under the codename Mercury, it’s the first phone made in partnership with Chinese company TCL - they do the hardware, and BlackBerry supplies the software - and it looks like it could be the start of a comeback of sorts.

Here are all the key details.

1) It’s got a keyboard… and it’s really smart

BlackBerry has chopped and changed its attitude towards hardware keyboards in recent years: 2015’s generally excellent Priv had a slide-out one, but last year’s DTEK50 and 60 did away with them entirely.

Well, good news, keyboard fans: the keys are back in pride of place on the KeyOne, sitting right below the 4.5in touchscreen. BlackBerry/TCL have sensibly kept the smart keyboard features that we saw on the Priv - so you can swipe around it to navigate through the OS and get typing suggestions.

What’s more, it can be programmed for up to 52 shortcuts, for instance letting you press the ‘M’ key to jump straight to the Maps app. Even the Space bar gets in on the act: the KeyOne’s fingerprint sensor is built directly into it.

Above the keyboard is the slightly oddly shaped display, which has a 1620x1080 full HD resolution across its 3:2 aspect ratio and a Gorilla Glass 4 finish. 

2) It’s running Android, but it’s still a BlackBerry at heart

BlackBerry’s decision to jump ship to Android was a sensible one given the lack of support for its own OS, and the inclusion of Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box is a bonus here.

Despite running Google’s OS, though, the KeyOne retains plenty of BlackBerry’s own software features. BlackBerry Hub, for instance, brings all of your messaging accounts into one place - and if it works as well here as it did on the Priv, it’ll do a very good job of it too.

And then there’s security - a big focus for BlackBerry these days. The KeyOne includes the DTEK software suite, which gives you all manner of tools for keeping those pesky viruses, hackers and government officials at bay. BlackBerry reckons it’s the most secure Android phone out there, and with features such as a constantly updated security rating for the device and suggestions for how you can make your phone safer, it might well be correct. You’ll even get alerts when an app tries to access features such as your camera, microphone or contacts.