(Pocket-lint) - Almost as soon as the BlackBerry Priv - the company's first Android phone - launched in 2015, there were rumours circulating about another Android-powered smartphone. At the time it was codenamed Vienna, which made complete sense following on from the Priv which was code-named Venice.
Since then, the phone was referred to with codename Rome, and more recently, Mercury. As it happens, the phone didn't even follow on in the numbering sequence of the currently official BlackBerry-branded Android phones. Instead, we have the KeyOne.
In true BlackBerry style, the KeyOne looks to offer a physical keyboard, a uniquely BlackBerry offering when paired with the Android operating system.
BlackBerry KeyOne: Display
Unlike classic BlackBerry handsets the screen won't be square but adopt a more regular touchscreen aspect. Rather than 16:9 like most displays, it's 3:2, just like a report from Venture Beat suggested it would be. In other words: get ready for some heavy letter-boxing on your videos.
As well as having a slightly shorter display, it measures just 4.5-inches diagonally but still packs in a panel with full HD resolution. That's a resolution of 1620 x 1080, with an impressive pixel density of 434 pixels per inch. It's LCD, meaning it won't have the contrast and saturation of the AMOLED panels, but it's still sharp and natural.
BlackBerry KeyOne: Design
Thanks to getting our hands on it in an early preview, we've been aware of the KeyOne's design and build for some time, and it's somewhat unorthodox, which could be a good or bad thing.
Unlike the Priv, the KeyOne doesn't have a sliding display, and doesn't look like a traditional candybar all-touch device either. Instead, it resembles a stretched out version of the Silver Edition BlackBerry Passport.
Like traditional BlackBerry phones, and unlike the Priv, the KeyOne also has metal frets in between the four rows of keys on the physical keyboard. This helps space out the keys to make typing easier, as well as giving it a solid feel. Above the keys, below the display, there's the traditional Android trio of capacitive buttons.
As you'd expect, the keys are sculpted to make them easier to type on and, surprisingly, the space bar doubles as a home button and fingerprint scanner.
According to the earliest mock-ups from CrackBerry it seemed like BlackBerry would release four colour variants: silver, grey, green and red. Sadly, between then and now, BlackBerry decided to stick with the combination that served so well on the Silver Edition Passport. It even has the textured black plastic back which feels great.
The frame is really well rounded, giving it a comfortable in-hand feel, and the volume rocker and Convenience Key are pretty low down, and easy to reach. Like Alcatels though, the power button is way out of reach on the top left corner.
The KeyOne also has a fairly industrial looking top panel, above the screen, which looks very similar to the Passport Silver Edition. That means that, although it looks nicely curved around the edges and on the bottom, the top is completely flat and angular.
This top edge features just a 3.5mm jack, while the bottom edge plays home to the Type-C port and the two grilles which cover the microphone and loudspeaker.
On the whole, it feels big, but the styling and material choices mean it doesn't feel out of balance, and it does feel very well built.
BlackBerry KeyOne: Hardware specs
As had been suggested before the official announcement, the BlackBerry KeyOne is be equipped with a mid-tier Snapdragon 625 processor, as well as 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. This rumour was originally spotted as an entry on Geekbench, the benchmark testing website, showing exactly those specifications, months before the phone was official.
From those specs, it's clear this definitely won't be the flagship of BlackBerry's future product lineup. But, for many BlackBerry fans, it'll be the only one they consider. It's the most BlackBerry-like BlackBerry the company has launched since the Classic a couple of years ago, and the first "proper" BlackBerry running Android.
Thanks to the optimisations in Android 7.1 - which comes loaded on the KeyOne - the 3,505mAh battery should be more than enough to handle a full day's use, if not two, and the processor shouldn't have trouble dealing with any regular daily activities.
Even when the battery does run out, eventually, the Quick Charge 3.0 support means you'll get a half-full battery with just 36 minutes plugged in to the wall.
BlackBerry KeyOne: Camera
Early rumours had claimed that we should expect to see an 18-megapixel rear camera in the KeyOne, similar to the Priv which - although not incredible - was easily the best camera we'd seen in a BlackBerry up until that point. Those rumours didn't pan out.
BlackBerry has equipped the KeyOne with a 12-megapixel camera with PDAF capable of shooting 4K video, with image and video stabilisation. The front camera has gone with 8-megapixels, but with larger pixels to draw in more light for those selfies in nightclubs everyone is so fond of taking. Like the rear camera, it can shoot panorama, burst photos and make use of the phone's live filters.
BlackBerry KeyOne: Release date and price
BlackBerry's next QWERTY-equipped smartphone is now available in the UK as an exclusive from Selfridges on London's Oxford Street until 5 May. After that, it will be available nationwide from Carphone Warehouse stores.
In the UK, it's going to cost £499, while EU residents will need to cough up €599 for the latest BlackBerry. As for those in the US, the KeyOne could be yours for $549, when it's available to buy from 31 May.