Review: BlackBerry KeyOne
The KeyOne mixes a vintage vibe with modern design lines. At 149.1mm in height, it is almost as tall as the Samsung Galaxy S8 (148.9mm), making it the tallest BlackBerry phone ever. The limited-edition black colour variant looks sophisticated. Tipping the scales at 180g, this isn’t the lightest phone around, but the heft, coupled with the aluminium frame, does lend it a rather reassuring feel.
There is no standout visual element; the understated design should fit neatly into a boardroom.
The KeyOne’s attempts to revisit the past are built on the foundations of a fantastic Qwerty keyboard that is touch- sensitive. For instance, if you are browsing a web page, you can simply swipe up and down over the keyboard to scroll through it. The space key can be used as the camera shutter button too, and each key can be mapped as a short-cut. However, the fact is that our thumbs have become used to tapping on a glass pane, and the return to a physical keyboard slows typing.
The 4.5-inch display (1,620x1,080 resolution) is intended for document editing, mails and instant messenger apps. Admittedly, it’ll be too small for any Netflix binge-watching though. Brightness is adequate, and the crisp text makes for a comfortable reading experience.
It is a tad perplexing that the KeyOne runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. This is the same chip that powers the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Rs9,999 onwards) and Moto G5 Plus (Rs15,999), and one would have expected more power under the KeyOne’s hood. While the global variants of the KeyOne have 3 GB RAM, the India-specification variant gets 4 GB RAM. Performance with Android 7.1.1 is fine for the most part, but things slow down visibly during multitasking. The 3,050 mAh battery lasts a day and a half with ease, taking pressure off during a heavy workday when you may not have the time to charge it.
The KeyOne retains the same focus on security, stripping away unnecessary Android features, that we saw in its predecessors, including the Priv, so it is a secure Android phone.
The 12-megapixel camera using Sony’s IMX378 sensor does a fairly good job with photographs in good light, given that cameras have never been the forte of BlackBerry phones.
What the KeyOne has managed to do is take the modern Android element and blend it with the best of the BlackBerry phones of the past. And for the most part, it is a job well done. If you still love BlackBerry phones, you could just find yourself buying one. For everyone else, the switch back to a physical keyboard may not be enticing enough.