At its peak, BlackBerry sold more than 15 million smartphones every three months.

This year, the company's handsets represent less than one per cent of smartphones sold worldwide, according to Gartner, an unprecedented decade-long sales crash.

But the BlackBerry still has a name and a reputation, and TCL Communications revealed plans to revive both in a keyboard-toting smartphone unveiled at the world's biggest mobile phone show this morning.

The BlackBerry KEYone features a thumb-friendly, 35-button backlit keyboard like its phone of the past, and TCL has paired it with a 4.5-inch touchscreen, Google Android software, and a 12-megapixel camera.

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TCL Communications chief executive Nicolas Zibell said the company was determined to breathe new life into the BlackBerry name and create a new generation of devoted fans.

"We all know how iconic BlackBerry has been and we are eager to prove to the world that the excitement is something they have in the future," he said.

"It's for successful people who are concerned with security but also for those who dare to be different."

The KEYone had been designed for business people and "professional consumers," according to BlackBerry Mobile senior product manager Logan Bell, who said its physical keyboard would set it apart from other phones.

That "smart keyboard" had been "completely reimagined," he said, so it could also act as a touchpad to move a cursor around the screen or to create app shortcuts.

"You will not see anything like the KEYone," Mr Bell said.

A spokeswoman said the device would launch in Australia for $799 as early as May this year.

The new BlackBerry device will face serious competition as Mobile World Congress kicks off in Barcelona, however, with established smartphone sellers including Sony, Huawei, and LG due to launch handsets at the event.

Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson travelled to Barcelona as a guest of Sony.