BlackBerry makes a comeback with ‘KEYone’

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BlackBerry has always produced quality mobile phones, but only a particular crowd of people prefer buying it. With the advanced technology and the latest versions of Apple and Samsung devices shining with glory in the market, BlackBerry does not seem to be popular enough anymore. After the great success of Blackberry Bold among BlackBerry lovers, the company has now made a comeback with it latest TCL built BlackBerry KEYone.

It is great news for the people who love the classic look and feel of old phones and felt more comfortable typing with a physical keyboard as BlackBerry KEYone has a keypad with 35 responsive keys and QWERTY layout.

Additional numbers and special characters can also be easily accessed as they are linked to each key on the keyboard but the plastic material of the keypad is what makes it look more ‘professional’ than stylish, but then again, the BlackBerry is truly known for that professional look.

Though the keyboard may seem like a big shift in contrast to the modern trend of all-touch screen phones and is, unfortunately, slower in comparison to the virtual keyboard, but the charm and delight of using the physical keys are appealing and also helps greatly in preventing typos.

One of the exciting features is the fingerprint sensor that has been installed under the space bar that increases the efficiency and allows you to move use the phone swiftly.

Adding to the usefulness, the company has also placed a ‘convenience key’ on the phone that allows you to manually program as a shortcut to any application of your choice i.e. an easy rapid access button through which you can open your favorite app; e.g. Twitter, by tapping just one button, anytime or at any instance, whenever required without having to select the app by hand. You may also set a specific key as a shortcut to a certain app, e.g. long press F key could take you directly to Facebook App.

BlackBerry KEYone has been reviewed to be slightly overpriced, considering the build and overall specs. With a black- silver body, this new BlackBerry device comes with a rubber back and rounded aluminum sides that allow firm grip in hand.

Although it is thicker (0.37 inches) and heavier (6.35 ounces) in comparison to the Galaxy S8 or iPhone 7, but the weight does not bother much, rather the mass and solid build keep it from giving out a cheap outlook.

But despite all that, KEYone does not stand out among other competitor companies when it comes to overall looks; with a vividly noticeable proximity sensor placed on the front of the phone, the slight bulging out camera.

BlackBerry KEYone comes with a 4.5” IPS display which is considerably small and watching videos and playing games may be less enjoyable, but it surely will serve you best if kept for work, than entertainment. The screen has a resolution of 1620 x1080 pixels that give out a sharp image, but it is certainly not the brightest phone. Also, the colors are probably not as sharp as OLED display presents.

But overall, the screen may probably seem just fine, if you are not too skeptical. The device’s overall size is fairly big, with an aspect ratio of 3:2, making it taller and narrower in shape. This makes the phone grip stronger but makes the handling difficult as it gets hard to reach the phone top to bottom, with one hand. The phone, however, at such high price lacks waterproofing feature, which is a big disappointment.

A USB-C port has been placed at the lower end of the phone and headphone jack on the top. Alongside the USB port, you will find fine sounding speakers, but they could have been better since they are not too loud.

If we dive into more specifics, the overall performance of the Blackberry KEYone is compelling and it is competing with the Moto G5 Plus. It works fine enough but it may likely not turn out to be robust in the long run.

Running on Android 7.1- Nougat i.e. the latest version, KEYone has been successful in revamping the software interface flawlessly. BlackBerry regularly updates its devices every month, via Google Security patches, keeping it safe from a variety of potential threats and exploits.

KEYone is powered by a 3GB RAM and is run on Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor. Although it may not be very efficient when it comes to gaming, but it is super-fast in performing the normal day-to-day tasks you require your phone for, without any significant lag. By default, the phone has a sufficient internal storage of 32 GB, which can easily be upgraded with a microSD card.

The phone has an outstanding battery of 3505 mAh which gives it a considerable amount of battery life, with a fast recharging capability. It also has an optional ‘boost mode’ which allows you shut down the background processes while the phone is charging. In standby mode, a fast battery drain was seen but it can easily be sorted out by upgrading your phone’s software.

The Camera on KEYone may not be ranked among the top tiers, in comparison to Galaxy S8 etc. but it is easy to manage and the image results are fairly acceptable. The front camera has been allotted 8 megapixels resolution, which will work great for Skype calls, but the pictures captured may seem rendered.

The rear camera comes with 12-megapixel shooter, with a f/2.0 aperture, that takes sharp detailed photos in good light. The auto-focus might not perfect, also, you would require steady handling to capture fine images and evade blurring because of the optical image stabilization. In dark surroundings, the camera produces noise in the image and loses detailing; however, the flash works pretty decently.

The phone comes with a ‘Productivity Tab’ that slides out the menu and rapidly shows upcoming events, text messages etc. The BlackBerry Messenger still exists in its old form.

One of the problems with KEYone is that BBM and BlackBerry Hub are easily available on other Android devices as well, and can be downloaded from Google Play Store, therefore it has not remained constricted to Blackberry devices only. BlackBerry also had DTEK App that is used for centralized security settings; the permission which can be managed through the main settings App.

The Blackberry KEYone- unlocked version shipping starts in the Canada and US market for $549 and in the UK at Carphone Warehouse and Selfridges for £499 around May 31st, 2017. This version will support all of the 4 mobile networks.

Final Conclusion

A wide majority of analysts and reviewers seem to like the overall performance of BlackBerry KEYone, most importantly impressed its speed and battery life lasting up to almost two days.

The fingerprint sensor placement on the front of the phone has also been an appealing feature along with the quick speed at which the phone unlocks, which is surely a big thumbs-up to this Android-based Blackberry device. With such positive response, the major part of the reviews included the physical backlit 4-rows keyboard that substantially has been augmented to have taken a lot of screen space.

The people who love playing games on the phones, and are in the habit of watching videos would prefer a larger screen on their smartphone, in contrast to the one available on the KEYone. It has a sophisticated high-end design and smart software but possesses a mid-range chipset with no availability of dual SIM slots or dual speakers. But, all-in-all, the BlackBerry KEYone is a great addition to the market and opens options for the keyboard lovers.

 

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Zoe J. Hayden, an engineering graduate from University of Oklahoma, who has a passion for writing technical blogs and craves to explore news about emerging Technologies, gadgets, Information Security etc.

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