Ahead of my full review, I figured I’d do a little write-up of my thoughts after spending a few days with the BlackBerry KEYone
Ah BlackBerry, it’s been a good long while since the company produced an all-round, solid smartphone. For me, the last handset of note – meaning, the one I actually enjoyed using – was the BlackBerry Passport way back in 2014.
Between then and now, BlackBerry has ditched BB10, a real shame that one, as the platform was great, and adopted Google’s Android OS. This means BlackBerry phones now run all the same apps as Samsung Galaxy phones and that is very good news, indeed.
All that’s missing now is a really strong release from BlackBerry, a phone that plops the company back in contention and shows the naysayers that it can still put together a decent smartphone when given the opportunity. And I think the BlackBerry KEYone could very well be that phone.
As I said above: this is NOT a review – it’s merely a collection of thoughts based around three day’s worth of usage. It is not a final verdict nor is it meant to be taken as a complete review; things might change in the coming week, as I start more thorough tests.
BlackBerry KEYone Design: QWERTY’s Back… BIG TIME
In a sea of slab-like phones, the BlackBerry KEYone really does stand out. It looks unlike anything else in the phone space and, for once, this is a very good thing indeed.
I’ve tested two (three, including the KEYone) phones in 2017 so far and they both shared one thing in common: they were kinda dull.
The Huawei P10, while a solid performer all round, looked like an iPhone and the LG G6, another great performer with a brilliant camera, essentially looks like a boring rehash of the Galaxy S8.
And if reports are to be believed, Apple’s iPhone 8 will share more than a passing resemblance to the Galaxy S8 as well.
The BlackBerry KEYone, however, looks NOTHING like either. It stands alone in its uniqueness and, once you take it out the box, you will also realise that this phone is an absolute TANK.
It’s all metal and angles and lovely clicky buttons. It feels like a workhorse, a phone that you could run an entire business on. The KEYone also feels like one of the most premium phones BlackBerry has ever released; pictures do not do it justice – this is one mean-looking phone.
The design, which champions functionality over form, is spot on in my opinion. The KEYone has a heft to it that I like; it’s reassuring in the hand. The chamfered edging, eye-catching soft-touch back panel, metal exoskeleton and wonderful keyboard are all implemented exquisitely. Nothing is out of place and everything services a purpose.
The QWERTY keyboard is easily one of the best keyboards BlackBerry has ever put on a phone. It is MILES better than the one included inside the PRIV. The tactility, which is so important for a QWERTY, is back with aplomb on the KEYone and this means you can bash out long texts and emails in record time.
The entire package – the design, the feel, the QWERTY keyboard, the display – just feels way more cohesive than the PRIV. BlackBerry made concessions on the PRIV and the DTEK50. Big concessions in some instances. And this effected the phones’ in a rather negative manner. The KEYone is different though – it feels solid, like proper BlackBerry phones used to.
And then there’s the camera…
I definitely wasn’t expecting too much from the KEYone’s 12MP rear sensor when I put it through its paces on a recent trip to Wales. I figured it’d be OK, moderate at best.
Boy, was I wrong!
The BlackBerry KEYone’s camera is fantastic, as you can see below in the pictures.
I didn’t use any effects or filters when capturing these images, either – just point and shoot. The detail and colours are very impressive. I was genuinely shocked by how good some of these pictures came out, as I am definitely not what you’d call a “photographer”.
After spending three days with the BlackBerry KEYone I am immensely impressed. I love the way it looks, I like the fact that it is different, I was blow away by its camera and, from what I’ve seen so far, I really like the software and touches Blackberry has applied to Android.