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    The BlackBerry KEYone comes with android Nougat 7.1.1
    | 5 min read

    BlackBerry KEYone Review: The ‘Key’ To Better Smartphone Security

    A few years ago, you would have been able to spot a BlackBerry phone from a mile out. Now you wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from the rest of the phones available today.

    The recent years haven’t been that hunky-dory for BB (BlackBerry) since the Chinese invasion began.

    Many thought that Android was the missing piece of the puzzle from BB’s portfolio. But after BB’s first Android device, the Priv didn’t garner much attention and their full touchscreen DTEK series also disappeared off the radar pretty quick. So, it was back to the drawing-board for BB.

    The KEYone comes with an 8-megapixel front camera
    The KEYone comes with an 8-megapixel front camera

    Now, BB is back with another Android phone – the KEYone. Being an ardent Android user and a touchpad addict it, was tough for me to move to the QWERTY style KEYone. But this phone has shown me a different side of BB, things that I felt were missing on the previous iterations.

    Here’s my review of the BlackBerry KEYone.

    Snapshot
    Click here to collapse

    Pros:

    • Ergonomic design
    • DTEK security
    • Keyboard gestures
    • Good battery

    Cons:

    • Average camera
    • Bit overpriced
    • No water-resistance

    What’s Good

    The best thing about this phone is that it doesn’t shy away from its root. This phone screams BlackBerry. It’s solid brick design feels comfortable to hold, not to forget the rubbery-textured finish giving a better grip. The 3D-curved design adds to that extra premium form factor the phone has.

    The rubbery-textured finish on the back gives better grip.
    The rubbery-textured finish on the back gives better grip.

    The screen-to-body ratio feels just right, The 4.5-inch full HD touch screen is vibrant and crisp. One hand use and navigating on the screen is tough and that’s why BB has added gestures to the keyboard which are great. You can swipe and scroll using the keyboard and the same reflects on the display.

    There are also 52 customisable shortcuts in the keyboard, but I rarely needed the use of any. You can forget speed typing with the QWERTY keyboard in the early days, but a few days of regular usage will bring back the efficiency.

    The QWERTY keyboard of the KEYone supports 52 customisable shortcuts   
    The QWERTY keyboard of the KEYone supports 52 customisable shortcuts  
    Wait! there’s more. The space bar acts as a fingerprint sensor and a camera shutter button so there you have ‘UTILITY’ with the ‘QWERTY’.

    The convenience key also has many advantages, if used judiciously. Like I check my WhatsApp every 5 minutes so I just customised the key to open WhatsApp and Voila!

    The performance is not blazing fast and not at par with what flagships today offer, but still it gets you there (not too hot, not too cold.. Just right).

    The KEYone has a fingerprint scanner in the physical keyboard’s space bar
    The KEYone has a fingerprint scanner in the physical keyboard’s space bar

    The Limited Edition Black KEYone runs on a Snapdragon 625 coupled with 4GB of RAM. Not meant to be a powerhouse – so hardcore gamers and heavy media consumers, stay away! The KEYone caters more to business tasks offering more productivity. Emails on the go, instant messaging and daily tasks moves swimmingly on the KEYone.

    The phone is like a safe even the CIA will have a tough time cracking. The DTEK security on-board provides prompts if your device is not safe and also offers additional security features like ‘Password Keeper’ and ‘Privacy Shade’ that always come in handy. Beware hackers!

    The phone sports a 4.5-inch full HD display
    The phone sports a 4.5-inch full HD display

    Battery-life really impressed me. The 3505mAh battery (biggest on a BB till now) offers enough juice to last the entire day and the icing on the ‘battery’ is the Quick Charge it offers.

    What’s Bad?

    Handling is easy, but at 180 gram it feels a tad heavy. Long time usage proved to be straining to the wrists. I’m not a fan of the BB UI that the phone offers. It’s running on the latest Android Nougat 7.1.1 but somehow the interface looks antiquated and the user experience feels too boring. The millennials and the more ‘hip’ crowd won’t be that impresses.

    Oh, would have liked some water-resistance. Big miss.

    The KEYone sports a 12-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture
    The KEYone sports a 12-megapixel rear camera with f/2.0 aperture

    Camera quality let me down. It comes with a 12-megapixel rear and an 8-megapixel front camera. Pictures both in daylight and in low lit conditions do look decent, but when zoomed in loose their clarity and sharpness. Big miss on detail. Not bad, but again not excellent.

    backclosenext imageprevious imageopen gallery in fullscreen
    • Captured with the BlackBerry KEYone
      Captured with the BlackBerry KEYone
    • Captured with the BlackBerry KEYone in bokeh mode
      Captured with the BlackBerry KEYone in bokeh mode
    • Captured with the BlackBerry KEYone in bokeh mode
      Captured with the BlackBerry KEYone in bokeh mode
    • Captured with the BlackBerry KEYone indoors
      Captured with the BlackBerry KEYone indoors
    • Captured with the BlackBerry KEYone in low light
      Captured with the BlackBerry KEYone in low light
    • Captured with the BlackBerry KEYone outdoors
      Captured with the BlackBerry KEYone outdoors
    • 1 / 6
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    • 5 / 6
    • 6 / 6

    Front camera gets a decent upgrade and works as a great lens for video conferencing.

    The power button could have been placed a bit lower. Tough to access if you want to quickly turn off the screen.

    Worth the Money?

    Okay, let me clear one thing first.

    I know there are a lot of people who might just write-off BB completely. But hang on, it’s a lot to offer otherwise. Yes, it’s not your typical flagship, but then again it does bring something different and new to the consumer and I like that.

    It’s not your typical touchscreen phone and also not meant for everyone. The business class and the ones looking for efficient productivity can trot towards the KEYone.

    At Rs 39,999, the price tag might sound a bit exorbitant, but again it’s a BlackBerry.

    Want efficient security and functioning, then the KEYone is the way to go. It’s not a specs loaded beast, but an efficient workhorse that gets the job done.

    I wouldn’t call it a perfect phone but still a good one.

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