With the KEYone, BlackBerry threads the needle on retro smartphone appeal

The BlackBerry KEYone, which goes on sale in its home country of Canada today, is a weird device.

But it’s weird not because it wasn’t designed in-house, and instead was handled by partner TCL; it’s weird because it’s strangely successful at pulling off an odd balancing act of combining modern functionality with the same kind of retro appeal Fujifilm has managed to infuse throughout their mirrorless camera lineup, with nostalgia for the earliest days of the smartphone, which are apparently far enough away that we can feel genuine nostalgia for them.

Up until relatively recently, BlackBerry’s attempts to hold on to its hardware keyboard heritage felt like grasping at a past that was sadly and irreversibly fading. Sure, you’d get some fans among…

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