The 3 Best And Worst Things About The BlackBerry KEYone

 

The BlackBerry KEYone.

BlackBerry used to rule the smartphone space, then the iPhone came along. Rather than accept the tide was turning, BlackBerry watched as most of its market share was gobbled up by touchscreen smartphones running iOS and Android. Now, BlackBerry sells Android phones, and fans of the classic BlackBerry design have been anxiously awaiting the company’s latest device, the KEYone. Does it live up to the hype? Is the keyboard making a comeback? You be the judge as we go over the best and worst things about this phone.

The Best

  • The keyboard: If you want an Android phone with a keyboard, this is your only option right now. It happens to be a pretty good keyboard, though. The keys are clicky and have more travel than you’d expect. Even if you have larger thumbs, the buttons are easy to hit, and there’s a satisfying surety when you type on a physical keyboard. Each one can also be set as a shortcut for apps and contacts. BlackBerry also slapped a fingerprint sensor in the spacebar, a clever design quirk.
  • The software: BlackBerry is launching this phone with Android 7.1.1, which Samsung and LG can’t be bothered to do (those phones have 7.0 only). What’s more, BB isn’t messing around with clunky custom UI layers. This is very close to stock Android, but there are a few useful BlackBerry apps and services included like the Hub, Password Keeper, and more. BlackBerry also promises tight security and frequent updates.
  • Battery life: The KEYone has a huge (relative to its size) 3,505mAh battery. The modest hardware and smaller screen mean this phone can easily make it through two or three days of heavy usage. When you do need to refill, it has quick charge support over the USB Type-C port.

The KEYone's keyboard.

Ryan Whitwam

The KEYone’s keyboard.

The Worst

  • The small screen: If you don’t absolutely need a keyboard, the KEYone doesn’t make a lot of sense. The screen has to shrink to accommodate the keyboard, so it’s only 4.5 inches and 1080×1620 pixels. The panel is bright and clear, but it’s not good for playing games, and it can feel cramped.
  • Performance: The KEYone is not a slow phone, but it’s nowhere near as fast as a Pixel or Galaxy S8. This phone has 3GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 625 ARM chip. Basic tasks like messaging, browsing the web, and multitasking are fine. However, apps can sometimes be slow to load, and gaming performance is disappointing. Although, I don’t know why you’d buy a phone with a keyboard if you want to play games.
  • Price: BlackBerry still seems to be counting on its name to carry some weight here. The KEYone will cost $550 unlocked. That’s only $100 less than the Pixel, which is faster and has more mainstream appeal. You have to pay a premium for that keyboard, and that’s going to drive away some people who were on the fence about going back to a physical QWERTY phone.

Sacrificing screen real estate.

Ryan Whitwam

Sacrificing screen real estate.

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