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BlackBerry KeyOne Arrives May 31

A "new era of BlackBerry smartphones" is slated to kick off on May 31.

Chinese electronics giant TCL, which last year became the exclusive manufacturer and distributor for BlackBerry-branded smartphones, said Thursday that the new keyboarded, Android-powered BlackBerry KeyOne will go on sale in the US and Canada next month.

The KeyOne (formerly referred to as Mercury), which made its official debut at Mobile World Congress in February, has a 4.5-inch screen and the familiar BlackBerry keyboard; it will be compatible with all major US and Canadian carriers.

TCL hasn't yet offered up too many details of its US launch plans, except to say that "both GSM and CDMA unlocked variants" will arrive on May 31, "with the BlackBerry KeyOne also coming to additional carriers — including Sprint — later this summer." The company promised more details as we get closer to May 31.

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In Canada, the handset will available via Bell, Bell MTS, Rogers, SaskTel, and TELUS Business starting at $199 on a two-year contract. TCL said pre-orders in Canada will kick off May 18.

The KeyOne measures 5.87 by 2.85 by 0.37 inches, and has a 4.5-inch, 1,620-by-1,080 LCD screen in a 3:2 aspect ratio. The main camera is 12 megapixels and the front camera is 8 megapixels. There's 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, plus a MicroSD card slot. There's a huge 3505mAh battery, and it all runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor.

PCMag's Lead Mobile Analyst Sascha Segan spent some hands-on time with the KeyOne at Mobile World Congress, and talked up its capacitive keyboard and BlackBerry's unified messaging app Hub.

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