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BlackBerry isn't done making smartphones with physical keyboards, sort of

The KEYone has apparently been so successful that BlackBerry is giving it a bronze makeover for select markets. The KEYone, to recall, is an old-school BlackBerry phone that features a physical keyboard and runs Android. Many believe the KEYone is the last of its kind, that it was on BlackBerry's drawing board long before the Canadian major hung its boots. Its towering success may propel BlackBerry to launch not one but a couple of more phones with physical keyboard in the days to come though.

According to a new Digital Trends report, BlackBerry is working on two new smartphones and both of them will be featuring a physical keyboard, more or less on the same lines as the KEYone. BlackBerry may not be looking to play the nostalgia card here though and the keyboards on-board its upcoming phones may just be more than a retro classic. That's not surprising since the keyword on-board the KEYone is also more than just another yesteryear classic. It can do so much more and BlackBerry has ensured it's fine-tuned with the times. At the same time, BlackBerry must know, phones with physical keyboards are a niche product category now since people have (obviously) moved on to an all touch-based form factor. Over the years. But, the success of the KEYone proves, there's still a market for physical keyboard-based phones and noone did them better than BlackBerry at one point of time.

Unlike the Priv (BlackBerry's last QWERTY phone) the KEYone features the physical keyboard in continuation with the touch screen. The design is old-school BlackBerry, which suggests that the phone may have been on the company's mind long before it hung its boots. The QWERTY, just like it was in the Priv, supports touch-gestures like scrolling and Flick Typing for predictive texting, as also over 50 app shortcuts. The space bar, meanwhile, gets a new fingerprint scanner up-top. The phone also comes with touch-based navigation keys.

Also Read: BlackBerry KEYone review: Work more, do more

Already it's available in two colour/hardware options. The KEYone that is available globally is black with grey/silver highlights on the edges and the keyboard and is made by TCL. The KEYone sold in India -- the Limited Edition Black -- comes in all-black and has slightly tweaked hardware and is made by Optiemus Infracom. It is getting another variant now -- the Bronze Edition -- that features the same specs as the Limited Edition Black. It will be sold in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, BlackBerry has announced. Because TCL is probably making this version, chances are it may not come to India, because Optiemus Infracom holds the rights for this marker but still we'll have to wait and watch how things pan out.

It has been sometime that BlackBerry stopped manufacturing its own phones. Instead, it focuses solely on software, something that it is already very good at. That does not mean the end of BlackBerry-branded phones however. BlackBerry, although it will not make its own phones, will outsource the job to third-party manufacturers, something on the lines of what Google used to do with its Nexus-branded phones.

Optiemus Infracom is the home-grown telecom enterprise, responsible for manufacturing BlackBerry Android handsets in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. This is similar to the exclusive, long-term licensing agreement that BlackBerry signed previously with TCL Communication for global and PT BlackBerry Merah Putih for the Indonesian markets.