BlackBerry is back again with it’s new smartphone – BlackBerry Keyone. BlackBerry was once a king in the market when we had the keypad phones. But somewhere down the line BlackBerry lost it. Blackberry launched many phones since then – some had square shape, some had the sliding keypad, but none of them really went down well with the consumers.
Now, when we are seeing a shift in the smartphones towards a bezel less screen, Blackberry is back again with a QWERTY keyboard phone!! Surprising isn’t it? Well, some may found this move as ridiculous but I believe me they have made a smart move. How? Well, there are many flagship smartphones from different brands which have been competing around with almost the same specs. Making a place for your smartphone among Apple and Samsung is not an easy task today in 2017. They needed to differentiate and I applaud them for this bold move.
We will see in the coming time if this move will go down well with the consumers or not. But I am pretty sure that Blackberry has targeted a niche this time.
Before reviewing the Blackberry Keyone in detail, let’s check out the technical specifications first.
Technical Specifications in a nutshell:
- Weight – 180 gms
- Thickness – 9.4 mm
- Screen Size – 4.5″ inches
- PPI – 433
- O.S – Android 7.1 Nougat
- Processor – Snapdragon 625
- RAM – 4GB
- Internal Storage – 64GB
- Expandable – Yes, 256 GB
- Camera – 12 MP, f/2.0
- Front Camera – 8 MP, f/2.2
- Finger print sensor – Front Mounted
- Colors – Black, Black/Silver
Review of Blackberry Keyone in Detail:
Design and Features:
First of all, we have a QWERTY keyboard on the front, just below the screen. That’s the most distinguishable feature found in Keyone, when compared to other smartphones. Talking about the built quality. It feels a solid strong smartphone in hand.
With a weight of 180 gms, this is a heavy smartphone. The curved shape at the edges makes this phone easy to grab. It really has a good hold in hand. When other smartphones in the market are positing themselves as the slimmest smartphone in the market, Blackberry Keyone does not gives a damn about it. Atleast it seems so. With a thickness of 9.4 mm, this not a slim phone either.
On the top it has a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a secondary noise cancellation microphone. On the right side we have hybrid sim tray. So, you can either insert two nano sims or a one nano sim and one micro SD card. Also on the right side we have the volume control button and one another button, which at first seems to be power on-off button, but it isn’t. This is the blackberry special button, which you can map to anything you want. This special Blackberry button is placed at an awkward position. Everyone is in habit to use this position on the right for power on-off and Blackberry decided to do just the opposite here as well.
On the bottom we have USB type C charging slot and one speaker and microphone vent. On the left side we have power button. Good for left handed people. This is the phone for you.
On the back side, we have a pretty big opening 12 MP camera and a dual tone flash. The Aluminum casing on the top, makes this phone a really solid on the outer side. Definitely, built wise the quality of Keyone is top notch. Surprisingly, this phone is not water resistant and also does not support wireless charging.
The Physical keyboard:
The most distinguishing feature of Blackberry Keyone is the physical keyboard on the front, which always stay there. Some may dislike this feature, while others might love this nostalgia. Well, talking about the keyboard – this is not a regular keyboard like we had in the old phones, this keyboard is touch sensitive and also features a finger print sensor on it.
Another interesting feature on the physical keyboard is that you can map the key on the board to anything in smartphone. Every key can be mapped to two tasks or apps. Short key press and long key press can be assigned to two different tasks. So, for example you can map key “T” to launch of Twitter app and Torch as well. It might take some time to get used to launching apps with key press, but it definitely is a useful feature.
As mentioned before, the keyboard is touch sensitive. You can swipe up and down for scrolling through pages and you can swipe back on the keyboard to delete the word while typing. You can also do actual copy paste with this keyboard. So ctrl+C & ctrl +V works perfectly fine with the keyboard. All in all, it’s quite an intuitive keyboard.
The space bar on the keyboard is utilized quite well. It acts as sensor for finger print scanner and it works quite well. Some people with bigger hands might find the key size quite small, so may find it difficult to type with it. Also, dedicated number keys are missing on the board.
It has 12 MP, f/2.0 rear camera and 8 MP, f/2.2 front camera. The camera has Sony IMX378 Sensor, same sensor as google pixel. It has a wide angle lens with flash. Though Blackberry is known for Business oriented phones, which mainly focuses on security of data and easiness to communicate through mails and messages. But this time they have a got really good camera as well. Though it is not the best camera out there but definitely it can be compared to any of the high end smartphone cameras.
The picture quality is quite good and the camera interface is the regular options like any other high end smartphone cameras.
With 3505 mAh battery, Keyone can easily provide 6-7 hours of on screen time. If you are not using the phone heavily then it easily last for more than a day.
Blackberry Keyone runs on Android, so you would be seeing a typical Android interface with few changes here and there. It run on Android O.S 7.1 Nougat and you will have pretty smooth experience using it. It has got the latest security updates. Blackberry is known of security of data in smartphones and they have kept upto their name in Keyone as well.
The processor is Snapdragon 625, though it is a good processor but given this is a flagship phone from Blackberry, they should have used the latest processor.
They have launched a limited edition in Black color in India market. Everything is same in terms of looks and design in this limited edition, except that this is totally in black color and no doubt it looks classy. The limited edition in black color comes with 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage, while the regular international variant comes with the 3GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage.
Pros and Cons in Nutshell:
- Intuitive Keyboard
- Latest Android
- Super Strong built
- Good camera
- Good Battery Life
- Special key to map to anything
- Finger print sensor in Keyboard
- High Security
- Thick and Heavy weight
- Power button on Left
- Not water resistant
- No dash charging
This phone is not for everyone. So who should buy this phone? Well, if you are a blackberry fan or love the new intuitive keyboard or are bored with your regular touchscreen smartphone, then this phone is definitely for you. Even though the physical keyboard serves many functions like flick typing, touch pad for scrolling, quick navigation to any app through mapping keys but still it can’t get away from the fact that the keyboard literally always stay there and eats up a part of your phone size.
Though the phone has all the good features that any phone in 2017 should have, the built quality is the surely the best in class for Keyone. Still the USP for the phone would be it’s Keypad. Another good thing is that the phone runs on the latest Android, so thumbs up there to Blackberry for choosing wisely the O.S this time.
All in all, it is good and different phone. If you can manage with the keyboard then definitely you are going to grab some eyeballs, with this phone in your hand.