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BlackBerry KEYone vs. BlackBerry Priv: Lock, stock and mobile


BlackBerry Mercury morphs into the KEYone, and the Priv is still all about your privilege. Which one is better for you, though?

There are only two Android-based BlackBerrys with keyboards, and while they share a few key features, at their cores they couldn’t be more different.

The BlackBerry Priv has been available since November of 2015, so it’s certainly not the newest cat around, but for all its quirks it did a lot of things right — and for being the first BlackBerry running Android, it was ambitious as hell.

The KEYone has a quirky name — as do most BlackBerrys cough DTEK50 cough — but it’s got some real reasons to get excited. Let’s run through some of them.


But first, a spec rundown between the two phones:

Operating System Android 7.1.1 Marshmallow Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
Display 4.5-inch 1620×1080 IPS LCD 434ppi 5.43-inch curved 2560×1440 AMOLED 540ppi
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 625Quad-core 2.00GHzAdreno 506 GPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 Hexa-core 1.8GHz Adreno 418 GPU
Storage 32GB 32GB
Expandable microSD up to 2TB microSD up to 2TB
Rear Camera 12MP f/2.0, PDAFdual-tone LED flashHDR, 4K, 30fps 18MP f/2.2, OIS, PDAF HDR, 4K, 30fps
Front Camera 8MP f/2.21.12um pixels 2MP f/2.81.75um pixels
Battery 3505 mAh non-removable 3410 mAh non-removable
Charging Quick Charge 3.0 USB-C Quick Charge 2.0 Micro-USB
Water resistance No No
Wireless charging No In some models
Dimensions 149.1 x 72.39 x 9.4 mm 147 x 77.2 x 9.4 mm
Weight 180 grams 192 grams


Now, the Priv, when it was announced, was a high-end phone; it cost $699 when it debuted which, without carrier support, made it pretty hard to swallow. It had a big, high-resolution display with curved glass, a fast-at-the-time processor in the Snapdragon 808, and an 18MP camera that produced some great shots. Its 3410mAh battery was no slouch either.

And while BlackBerry’s Android build debuted with some crushing bugs and some slow-as-mollasses software, it improved with the Marshmallow update (though our friend, MrMobile, somewhat disagrees).


Of course, many people bought the Priv not for the specs but the thing that lay underneath, the better-than-it-deserved-to-be slider keyboard. While shallow, sure, it was an incredible feat of engineering, and a viable input alternative to the also-excellent virtual option bundled with the phone.

The KEYone’s 3,505mAh battery should last considerable longer than the Priv’s.

The KEYone is a different class of phone altogether. At $549, it’s not as expensive (though not as cheap as we hoped), and the keyboard is prominent. It replaces the Priv’s high-resolution AMOLED display for a more reasonable and less battery-sucking IPS panel, and the camera has stepped down to a better-in-the-dark 12MP Sony IMX378 sensor.


Finally, the 3,505mAh battery should last considerable longer than the Priv’s, given its Snapdragon 625 chip, an octa-core multitasker that, while not as fast as the Snapdragon 808 in single-threaded tasks, shouldn’t pose a problem to any of its users’ average daily tasks. Indeed, the 625 holds its own in other devices like the Moto Z Play and Huawei Nova Plus, and leads them to best-in-class battery life, so I have no doubt the results will be similar in the KEYone.


Of course, the KEYone, running Android 7.1 out of the box, has a distinct advantage over the current Priv — better notifications, true multi-window, and improved efficiency — but the same update is expected on the Priv at some point. The Priv, however, has a 16:9 screen, with no obstructions like a keyboard when held in landscape, so it’s better for watching movies or playing games.

The Priv is currently sold for a more reasonable $499 directly from BlackBerry, and can be found for less aorund the

See Priv at BlackBerry

The BlackBerry KEYone will be released in April for $549, and you can find out more information over at BlackBerry.

See KEYone at BlackBerry


BlackBerry KEYone specs


What’s inside the BlackBerry KEYone?

The latest BlackBerry, the ‘Mercury’, is now officially called BlackBerry KEYone. The latest device from BlackBerry Mobile has a strange 3:2 aspect ratio screen to accommodate the full-sized QWERTY keyboard, similar to what CrackBerry addicts were using for years and years.

With a 4.5-inch HD display, a Snapdragon 625 processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, this isn’t necessarily a state-of-the-art powerful device, but the 3505mAh battery, along with the very efficient chip, is aimed at making the KEYone the longest-lasting BlackBerry to date.

Here’s the full spec sheet.

Operating System Android 7.1.1 Marshmallow
Display 4.5-inch, 1620×1080 IPS LCD434ppi
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 625Quad-core 2.00GHzAdreno 506 GPU
Storage 32GB
Expandable microSD up to 2TB
Rear Camera 12MP (1.55 micron) f/2.0, PDAFdual-tone LED flashHDR, 4K, 30fps
Front Camera 8MP f/2.21.12-micron pixelsSelfie flash1080p/30 video
Battery 3505 mAh non-removable
Charging Quick Charge 3.0 USB-C
Water resistance No
Security DTEK security suiteFIPS 140-2 Full Disk EncryptionAndroid For Work, Google Play for Work
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac, 5GHz, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, NFCGPS, GLONASS
Network (NA GSM) LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/19/20/28/29/30 TD-LTE Band 38/39/40/41
Network (NA CDMA) LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/12/13/20/25/26/28/29/30 TD-LTE Band 41 CDMA BC 0/1/10
Network (EMEA) LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/13/17/20/28 TD-LTE Band 38,40
Dimensions 149.1 mm x 72.39 mm x 9.4 mm
Weight 180 grams


When is the LG G6 launch and how can I watch it live?

LG has made no bones about the LG G6 launch, clearly telling everyone who will listen that LG G6 day is 26 February 2017. 

The company is looking to launch its new smartphone at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona, and is going to share the launch event live for everyone to watch. 

LG has been running a long campaign of drip-feeding information about the new 18:9 display, about the demands of customers wanting waterproofing and so on. In fact, there’s not a lot left that we don’t know about the LG G6. 

  • LG G6: Release date, rumours and everything you need to know

However, if you want to follow the action live, LG is hosting a livestream for the event over on YouTube. 

The action kicks off at 12:00CET in Barcelona, that’s 11:00GMT and we’ll be bringing you all the LG G6 action and everything else from Mobile World Congress 2017, as it happens.


BlackBerry’s ‘Mercury’ phone is now the KEYone

What was once known as the BlackBerry “Mercury” is now the KEYone. (Yeah, I don’t like the name either.) At a press conference in Barcelona, TCL — the new steward of BlackBerry’s hardware efforts — introduced, or rather re-introduced, its first Android handset with a QWERTY keyboard. It’s a tall, enterprise-friendly smartphone with BlackBerry’s DTEK software dumped on top of the OS. You can expect a fairly clean version of Android, but with the BlackBerry Hub and a few other apps aimed at business types. Clearly, this is a niche device — unlike the DTEK50 and DTEK60, which ditched the physical keyboard, this is a phone for the BlackBerry purists.

The keyboard is more than just a simple typing machine. It also serves as a touch-sensitive control pad, making it easier to adjust the cursor in long-winded emails and text documents. All 52 letter keys can also be programmed to launch specific apps when you tap or long-press them. F for Facebook, U for Uber — you get the idea. Above the nifty keys is a 4.5-inch, 1080p display, which is small by modern standards, but necessary to stop the phone from becoming a monster like the BlackBerry Passport. Buried inside is a Snapdragon 625 processor and a 3505mAh battery, which you can top up with “Boost,” BlackBerry’s take on fast charging.

The BlackBerry Mercury will be going on sale this April for $549/£499/€599. It’ll be available worldwide through various retailers and carriers — exclusively in black, of course.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from MWC 2017.


BlackBerry’s KEYone is an exciting return to form

With a global launch in the works and the hopes of diehards at an all-time high, the pressure was on BlackBerry and TCL to deliver on all that Mercury hype. We can’t render an official verdict yet, but my gut tells me they’re onto something. Say hello to the BlackBerry KEYone.

Yes, “Mercury” was a better name, and yes, the capitalization is weirding us out too. No matter: Despite the nature of its creation, the KEYone feels like a pretty triumphant return to form for a brand in need of a boost.

The hardware hasn’t changed since the phone broke cover at CES, but we now know what makes it tick. Inside is one of Qualcomm’s octa-core Snapdragon 625 chipsets, with an Adreno 506 GPU, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage. (Thankfully, you can toss in a microSD card as large as 2TB, just to be safe.) While that’s certainly not the fastest slab of silicon out there, BlackBerry Mobile says it chose the processor “very specifically” to work in tandem with the 3,505mAh battery to deliver battery life that can stretch into two full days — another classic BlackBerry trait the KEYone tries to channel.

I wouldn’t worry a whole lot about performance, by the way. We’ve seen that exact load-out before in devices like the Moto Z Play, and while it won’t necessarily blow you away, I was more than pleased with how quick this little thing was. Even with a non-final version of Android 7.1 Nougat onboard, navigating through menus and frenzied multitasking were no problem — just what you’d want in a device meant specifically to get things done. Up front is that 4.5-inch display running at a slightly odd, 3:2 aspect ratio. Everything on that 1,620×1,080 screen is plenty crisp, though it certainly takes a little getting used to.

To hear the company’s pitchmen tell it, the KEYone was purpose-built for people who appreciated the things that made old-school BlackBerrys so great. It stands to reason that the people involved agonized over the keyboard, and they’ve done a great job: I’ve used every BlackBerry with a physical QWERTY since the BB10 days and I’m pretty pleased with how the keys depress and spring back into place. It’ll take a lot of re-training to get my chubby thumbs weaned off a glass touchscreen, but even a few moments with the KEYone made me feel like I was up to the challenge. Even better, you can slide your fingers across the keyboard to swipe between home-screens and down webpages. Every key also doubles a shortcut for an app or action — think holding down the L button to launch Lyft — and I’m seriously thinking of buying a KEYone just for that.

That functionality sits nicely on top of BlackBerry’s spin on Android, and very little of it has changed since the days of the DTEK50 and DTEK60. Now we’re getting to that other thing BlackBerry has pushed for decades. The main draw (beyond the keyboard, natch) is the hardened kernel BlackBerry has worked to bake into Android itself — spokespeople eagerly call it the most secure Android device in the world, and apps like DTEK should help even lay-people figure out how to make their phones a little safer.

Then there’s the other stuff needed to play in the big leagues. BlackBerrys have never been great at cameras, but they went surprisingly big with the KEYone. Tucked away in the phone’s back is one of Sony’s 12-megapixel IMX378 camera sensors, like the one seen in Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL. I didn’t get much time to play with the camera in bright daylight, but the photos I did shoot were fairly detailed and well colored, even in low light. The Pixels use a lot of really impressive machine learning to make photos taken with their cameras really pop, so don’t expect the KEYone to steal Google’s imaging crown. Even though the software driving it still needs some fine-tuning, the KEYone’s camera seems leagues ahead of those used in other BlackBerrys.

Ultimately, the phone’s designers didn’t want to build a phone for everyone, or a phone that excelled at everything. They tried that once with the Priv, and you probably remember how that went. (Quick reminder: it was mostly just OK). This new-found focus is both refreshing and intelligent. BlackBerry Mobile openly admits the KEYone is a total niche phone, but considers it an important part of the growing BlackBerry portfolio. Building a strong foundation of phones is how BlackBerry and TCL plan to turn things around, and at least some of the carriers that didn’t love the Priv are taking note.

The KEYone is set to launch in multiple markets in April, and we’re hearing that the US is lower on the list than other places. Fair enough. Even so, the company confirmed that, in addition to being sold unlocked for $549, carriers will almost certainly offer the KEYone too. That’s good news for you — you can pay for one by the month — and even better for BlackBerry. Carrier deals mean more visibility, and they could definitely use it. As I’ve said, we’ll hold off on passing judgment until we get to play with some final hardware, but I feel something for BlackBerry now the company hasn’t given in me years: cautious excitement.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from MWC 2017.


We’re live from MWC 2017 in Barcelona!

It’s the end of February, which means we’re back in Barcelona once again. For the next few days, we’ll bringing you coverage of Mobile World Congress 2017 as the news breaks here in Spain. BlackBerry kicks things off with a press conference this evening before the likes of LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony and many more take the stage at the start of the week. To easily follow all the announcements as they happen, click the link down below.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from MWC 2017.


Recommended Reading: AI and the future of music

We Are the Robots:
Is the Future of
Music Artificial?

Jack Needham,

Artificial intelligence is invading more of our lives by the day and it’s going to work making music as well. FACT takes a look at the use of robots for creative exploits and if we as a collective audience are ready for AI to compose our tunes.

Beyond ‘Hidden Figures’: Nurturing New Black and Latino Math Whizzes
Amy Harmon, The New York Times

A look at BEAM 6, a math camp for New York City students from low-income areas. You can try your hand at a few of the problems to see how your skills stack up.

Why Some Apps Use Fake Progress Bars
Kaveh Waddell, The Atlantic

Tax season is as good a time as any to discuss whether those progress bars that a number of apps use are being truthful or just working to put your mind at ease.

MakerBot Is Trapped in the Nastiest Part of the Tech Hype Cycle
Victor Luckerson, The Ringer

MakerBot helped bring 3D printing to the masses a few years ago, but the company has struggled to find its place after discovering the quest to put one of the machines in every home was out of reach.

Don’t Cry for the Laugh Track
Anthony Crupi, Advertising Age

A look at the history of TV’s tool for comedy including if it was every really needed, its effectiveness and why some modern shows have such a faithful following genuine laughter is easy to produce.


We’re live from BlackBerry Mobile’s MWC 2017 press conference!

And so it begins. The first big press conference of MWC 2017 is all about BlackBerry, specifically the so-called “Mercury.” We were pretty big fans when we first met the QWERTY keyboard-packing phone at CES, a lot of you were too — hopefully today’s press conference sheds a lot more light on what’s running inside of it and we can get our hands on one. With any luck, TCL and BlackBerry Mobile will have a few surprises for us, too, but we’ll just have to wait and see: the event starts at 7PM here in Barcelona, 1PM Eastern and 10AM on the west coast.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from MWC 2017.


Hosting an Oscar’s party? Here’s how to add some terrific tech touches

Why it matters to you

Want to throw a last-minute Oscars party? These ideas will add some tech touches to the festivities.

The Academy Awards start at 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, and that means there’s still time for you to put together a viewing party, if you’re so inclined. Stock up on champagne, get your evening wear pressed, do some quick housecleaning, prep some snacks, and — OK, it’s actually quite a bit of work. Are you sure you want to do this? If so, here are some techy ideas to add some glitz to your event.

More: Academy Award nominees: La La Land ties all-time record for Oscar nominations

Make it a party

Text and Facebook both work for invites, but you can also use Paperless Post or Punchbowl for something a bit more formal. And what’s more formal than the Oscars?

Set to stream

The Oscars are airing on ABC, but if you don’t even get the basic networks on TV, you can stream them on ABC’s website or by using the network’s official mobile app and a login address from a cable provider. If you haven’t seen many of the nominated films, there are quite a few available to watch on Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes, including Hell or High Water, Moonlight, and Arrival.

Ask Alexa

Amazon Echo Alexa

In terms of of predictions, Amazon’s Alexa can give you her views on who will win Best Actress, Best Director, and so on. She had to flip a coin to choose between Denzel Washington and Casey Affleck, however, just in case you’re curious. The virtual assistant can also run through the nominees for several categories, and if you enable the Ultimate Hollywood Trivia Skill, Alexa will ask five questions in a row.

Get competitive

There’s also the official Oscar’s challenge you can sign up for, or you can scour Pinterest for bingo cards. Vanity Fair has a printable ballot, as well. If you need a little help, there’s supposedly an AI-backed pick you can turn to when it comes to Best Picture.

Give a swag bag

The company that gives out unaffiliated Oscar swag bags is notorious for the six-figure price tags on its loot. This year’s haul has a few tech items, from vaporizers to smart-home systems. If you can’t afford to give luxury vacations to your guests, just stick to candy, popcorn, and a ballot.

Famous food

Francis Ford Coppola recently paired with Sun Basket, and the meal-kit delivery company hosts some of the iconic director’s recipes on its site, including Pizza Sofia, named in honor of his daughter and maker of our favorite champagne in a can.

Although it’s totally un-tech related, you can also go punny, and make food inspired by the nominees: Emma Stone Fruit Salad, Dev Pateled eggs, Zootopizza, Raviola Davis, and Hell or High Watermelon bites. For drinks, you could serve dark and stormies with Ryan Gosling’s ginger beer.

Keep it on ice

If you’re going to pour champagne instead of cocktails, a dedicated wine cooler that keeps it at perfect serving temperature is a nice way to go. It works better than a bucket, at least.


Have a safe adventure with the Mountain Conditions Report app

Why it matters to you

Professional guides are doing their best to make sure that information impacting safety is readily available for the general public.

Safety is always a big concern when exploring the wilderness, and finding up-to-date reports on trail conditions can be difficult, to say the least. The newly relaunched Mountain Conditions Report (MCR) website and app, however, provide exactly that.

MCR is a free public platform for professional guides to share relevant information on. It was founded in partnership with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) and has been around for decades. Originally, the service existed as an email-based system for guides to send information between other guides, but MCR has recently relaunched in an effort to broaden its reach to the general public.

More: Patagonia’s lightweight winter layering system provides warmth in extreme conditions

The idea to go public had been growing for a while, but it was George Weetman who approached the ACMG about the app and website. MCR is a map-based tool that provides detailed information about routes, conditions, recommendations, and more for skiing, climbing, and hiking. All the information is gathered and posted by professional guides in the area. If there are any incident reports, wildlife alerts, or avalanche conditions. MCR is the place to find them.

To help move MCR from an email list to a working application, Arc’teryx provided the platform and created the app. With it up and running, it’s now up to local guides to fill it with up-to-date information. We spoke with their Global Community Marketing Director, John Irvine, about getting the word out.

“We have worked hard with the ACMG and the AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) to inspire guides to more frequently use the tools and share info. for North America,” Irvine told Digital Trends. “We have worked hard with the ACMG and the AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) to inspire guides to more frequently use the tools and share info for North America.”

Arc’teryx made sure the project didn’t start with an empty website, either. The firm had been working on it for about three years before the soft launch in February 2016. “Really the tools have been available for one year, and we purposely did not market the tools because we wanted to beta test it and figure out any bugs via this soft launch. Now in our second year, we are at present working to get more guides posting and broaden the geographic pull for info,” continued Irvine. “We have definitely noticed an increase in posts and app downloads in the last month with the public launch. Hopefully, this is sustained and the number of posts and geographic reach of the guides posting will continue to improve.”

Each guide has the ability to upload their information and a picture if they choose to do so. Pictures have been used in creative ways already. For instance, on some of the incident reports, guides have mapped out what happened to better inform the general public. “Some guides are great about posting every day they get out and based on changing conditions,” says Irvine. “In the area where I live I would say we get about a post a day or a post every 2-3 days.”

Currently, the MCR app focuses mainly on North America, but this will change in the future. Arc’teryx is working with the British Mountain Guides to get more European guiding associations promoting public safety through the app and website.

Feedback from the public has been mostly positive since the relaunch. “The guides have been getting great feedback and mostly thanks from recreationists,” said Irvine. “The guides are motivated to support public safety and this is highly appreciated by recreational users.” As far as the app itself, Arc’teryx meets regularly with the ACMG and AMGA to get feedback and improve. For example, right now their focus is on enhancing the filter capabilities by time and geography. Other improvements would allow guides to see views or receive thumbs up from the public.

“We will always work to improve and further evolve the app and website,” concludes Irvine. “We want it to be a valued and appreciated venue for creating public safety knowledge.”

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