Alleged BlackBerry Athena renders show that the keyboard will stay (Updated)

By | 11th April 2018

BlackBerry Athena Slashleaks

Update (04/30): China’s TENAA regulatory body has uploaded images of a QWERTY-equipped BlackBerry handset, which appear to corroborate the Slashleaks renders of the BlackBerry Athena — for the most part.

There are a couple of differences between them, such as the lack of BlackBerry branding on the spacebar in the TENAA image. The TENAA device is also missing capacitive navigation keys (or they might not light up when the phone is turned off). Leaked device renders can be based on early/work-in-progress products, however, so these kinds of discrepancies can appear between leaks of the same product.

Nevertheless, we do spot what appears to be a “convenience” key for app shortcuts, as well as that dual-camera setup.

A BlackBerry device on TENAA. TENAA

The listing also gives us a few hard details, such as a 4.5-inch 1,620 x 1,080 LCD screen, a 3,360mAh battery, 6GB of RAM, a fingerprint scanner (presumably in the spacebar), and 64GB of expandable storage. The supplied chip is an octa-core processor running at 2.2Ghz. The BlackBerry KEYone made use of the mid-range Snapdragon 625 chipset, so a more modern Snapdragon 600-series chip is likely if the new model is indeed a successor.

All in all, we certainly have a better picture of what to expect from the phone when it eventually launches. Now all we have to do is wait for a release date… 

Original article: The usefulness of a physical keyboard on a smartphone in 2018 is questionable. At the same time, BlackBerry made enough tweaks with the KEYone’s keyboard to give us some of our favorite experiences in Android in 2017.

Whether that continues with the rumored Athena is unknown, though alleged renders published by Slashleaks show us that BlackBerry is not yet ready to give up on its famed calling card.

Taking a look at the Athena’s keyboard, it looks like the keycaps are larger than the KEYone’s. The layout remains the same, though the space bar now features the BlackBerry logo. We presume the space bar pulls double duty as the phone’s fingerprint sensor, much like it did on the KEYone, though we are not sure.

The alleged renders also show that the Athena’s keyboard is covered by some sort of matte material. By comparison, the KEYone’s keyboard is glossy.

Also redesigned is everything above the keyboard. The front camera seemingly lives in a smaller housing, while the earpiece goes from a grille to a smaller single piece.

Slashleaks

Even the sensor next to the earpiece shrunk in size. This size management looks to give the Athena’s display more room to work with, though we do not know if the display is larger relative to the KEYone’s.

The changes are equally subtle around back, where you can find dual primary cameras. The KEYone’s grippy back and metal frame make a return, though GizmoChina allege that the upper part of the back is leather.

Design annoyances rear their ugly heads, starting with the button placement. The Athena reportedly features the volume rocker, convenience key, and power button on the same side. Expect plenty of complaints concerning accidental button presses.

Also, capacitive keys seemingly make a return on the Athena. The KEYone’s capacitive keys sometimes got in the way when using the keyboard, so to see them return is disappointing.

I understand that BlackBerry wants to give you as much display real estate as possible when typing. Still, I hope that the company includes some sort of toggle between virtual and capacitive keys.

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Finally, the Athena’s alleged renders show a USB Type-C port at the bottom and a headphone jack up top. It is good to see that BlackBerry might not follow other manufacturers’ decisions to remove the unicorn that has become the headphone jack.

Because the Athena’s specs are still unknown, we do not know how it stacks up with the rumored Ghost and Ghost Pro. Based on what the KEYone offers, the Athena could feature mid-range internals and a decently-sized battery.

Here’s hoping that the Athena does not feature a high price tag.