To say that the launch of the BlackBerry KEYone has been protracted would be an understatement. BlackBerry and TCL teased the high-profile phone in January, dished out proper details in February, and has left people wondering about a specific US release date ever since. At last, you can relax: BlackBerry and TCL have revealed that the keyboard-equipped Android phone will reach both the US and Canada on May 31st. Americans will be limited to buying the $549 unlocked CDMA or GSM versions at first, but take heart -- there will be carrier deals, including a Sprint launch sometime in the summer. If you thought the up front price was too much to swallow, you'll have a way of softening the blow.
In Canada, the handset will be available through Bell, Rogers, SaskTel and Telus for $199 CAD on a 2-year contract. For context, a Galaxy S8 is typically $250 CAD on similar terms. That might give you a hint as to what you could expect for American carrier pricing -- it'll be considered high end, but might not be as expensive as certain flagships.
The US carrier deal is important. BlackBerry's previous Android phones, the DTEK series, were virtually non-existent in the States for anyone besides business customers and dedicated fans. A carrier deal not only makes the KEYone more palatable to price-conscious buyers, it puts the phone on the map for shoppers who won't even consider a phone if don't see it in a local provider's store. While the KEYone is unlikely to be a runaway hit, that exposure might help BlackBerry regain some of its long-lost reputation.