BERLIN—The KeyOne is an Android-powered smartphone with an an excellent keyboard and some unique BlackBerry customization. And it seems to be a hit in new markets like China, often selling out in a matter of hours after launch, the company says.
That unexpected success has prompted BlackBerry to follow up with the BlackBerry KeyOne Black Edition in time for the holiday season. True to its name, it comes with an attractive matte black finish to its aluminum body, replacing the silver accents on the original KeyOne.
“The consumer market likes to see options,” said Alain Lejeune, Global General Manager for TCL Communication’s BlackBerry Mobile brand. “They want to have it in black.”
For international users, the new KeyOne Black Edition comes with beefed-up specs, featuring 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, up from 3GB RAM and 32GB of storage. Other specs remain the same: a Snapdragon 625 processor, 4.5-inch 1080p screen, 12MP rear camera, 8MP front camera, and 3,505mAh battery. Look for it in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Saudia Arbia, UAE, and the UK for 649 euros, $549 GBP, or $799 CAD.
For US users, the KeyOne Black Edition will be available exclusively on AT&T and while you can get the same black finish, there won’t be any spec bump. US pricing isn’t yet available.
The move comes after BlackBerry found itself “overwhelmed by the response” to the KeyOne, said Lejeune. “The global release…has far exceeded our expectations, with our re-imagined BlackBerry smartphone now available in more than 30 countries around the world; and more coming later this year.”
BlackBerry is working on global expansion for the KeyOne with a sight toward launching in more than 50 countries worldwide. Interest has been particularly strong in the Chinese and Japanese markets, but the Canadian and US markets have also shown strong consumer interest.
The phone is currently available on Sprint and AT&T, but it’s done well as an unlocked phone on Amazon and Best Buy, said Jason Gerdon, Associate Director of Global Communications at BlackBerry. “We’re delivering product as fast as we can.”
“It’s been 50-50 enterprise and consumer interest,” said Francois Mahieu, Global Head of Sales for TCL, which now manufactures and distributes BlackBerry-branded smartphones. “It’s a communication-first smartphone,” he said, emphasizing that multimedia isn’t as much of an issue to the typical BlackBerry customer.
That said, BlackBerry isn’t ruling out the launch of a full touch-screen phone. “It opens some additional doors,” said Gerdon. This may be especially true for customers who don’t want to buy a $1,000 flagship phone, but still want a premium experience when it comes to key value propositions like battery, security, privacy, and a mostly stock Android UI that adds some of BlackBerry’s unique features. The company is also fully committed to delivering Android’s monthly security updates and upcoming Android OS updates like Oreo.