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BlackBerry KEYone Review

BlackBerry KEYone

Posted: , by Stephen S.

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Camera

Rather than feeling like an afterthought, the KEYone comes through with a surprisingly satisfying camera

BlackBerry KEYone Review
Camera interface of the BlackBerry KEYone - BlackBerry KEYone Review
Camera interface of the BlackBerry KEYone - BlackBerry KEYone Review
Camera interface of the BlackBerry KEYone - BlackBerry KEYone Review
Camera interface of the BlackBerry KEYone - BlackBerry KEYone Review

Camera interface of the BlackBerry KEYone


The KEYone really doesn't have to do a whole lot with its camera for the phone to be successful; it's difficult to argue that too many of the shoppers whom the KEYone will appeal to are going to judge the phone based on its image-capturing prowess.

Basically, all the phone's camera has to do is not be an unworkable piece of garbage – and we're happy to say it very much isn't.

TCL equips the KEYone with a 12MP main camera with an f/2.0 lens, as well as an 8MP f/2.2 front-facer. There's nothing real fancy here – no laser-assisted auto-focus or LED flash for the selfie cam. On one hand, that could be a good sign, that instead of getting bogged down with extras, the KEYone is instead focused on a clean, no-frills, straightforward but functional camera experience. Then again, it could also reflect a a general lack of attention to the camera as a whole. So what's it going to be? Let's take a look.

Image quality


Going in with our expectations appropriately tempered, image quality from the BlackBerry KEYone's camera really turned out not bad at all. Focus speeds are quick enough, exposures tended to come out looking nicely balanced, and while the HDR mode occasionally took a little longer than we'd like, the output really is pretty consistently solid.

Of special note, we found the KEYone camera's low-light performance to be much better than we could have hoped for, snapping shots as evening faded into twilight without missing a beat.

If we were going out with the express intent of taking lots of pictures with a smartphone, the KEYone probably wouldn't be the first handset we reached for, but for a phone where you wouldn't expect imaging to be a top priority, the KEYone comes through with an impressively competent camera.


Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
BlackBerry KEYone 1.6
2.4
792
465
Apple iPhone 7 1.13
1.49
No data
No data
Samsung Galaxy S8 1.2
1.3
281
261
LG G6 1.7
2.7
522
530
View all

Video recording


If our expectations were low when it came to still image-taking, they're even lower when it comes to video. After all, who ever said, “hold on, let me get my BlackBerry,” when anticipating the need to film a moment for posterity? None of this is to say that we didn't expect the phone would be decent at video – we just doubt anyone is betting on the KEYone being a video-recording superstar.

One immediate plus is a nice mix of shooting options: how many other mid-rangers offer 4K filming in both 30fps and 24fps modes? And so long as you're filming at 1080p 30fps or below, you can tap into the phone's electronic stabilization to help smooth-out your shots.

Video shot on the KEYone looks alright, and is about as sharp as we'd expect, though exposure had a tendency to be on the darker side. And while the stabilization is nice to have for shooting modes that support it, we couldn't help but notice a small degree of background image-warping, as the the algorithm appeared to be struggling to keep things looking stable.

All in all, we're pretty darn satisfied with what the KEYone was able to do in terms of video. Re-focus times are nice, the interface is easy to use, and for a feature we initially were ready to nearly write off entirely, the phone ended up leaving us pleasantly surprised.

Multimedia

The KEYone's speaker won't blow anyone away, but earbuds with interchangeable tips are a nice extra

BlackBerry KEYone Review

The small, oddly-shaped screen on the BlackBerry KEYone doesn't exactly lend itself to media-watching. With the 3:2 aspect display, you're pretty much guaranteed to be wasting screen real estate with black bars no matter what content you care to consume.

But get past the small size of that video, and there's a lot to like about media on the KEYone. One nice aspect to having this hardware keyboard is that it give you somewhere solid to hold the phone without smudging up the screen. And while to hear to most manufacturers talk about how bezelless phones are the way of the future, sometimes we really appreciate having a nice big non-screen spot to grip our phones.

Speaker output is a little on the quiet side of things, and while it's not the lowest we've tested so far this year, it's definitely not among the top performers. At least the analog headphone jack remains, and much like BlackBerry itself, that's one hold-over from the past that still has a little life in it yet.

More than that, beyond just having a headphone jack, the KEYone actually comes with a pair of earbuds – and ones with a bunch of alternate tips, at that. Coming with headphones is far from a certainty with even more mass-market smartphones, and for them to show up on a BlackBerry is a nice treat. There's nothing particularly special about the audio output of the included pair, so just we'll just consider them a welcome bonus.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
BlackBerry KEYone 0.317
Apple iPhone 7 0.991
Samsung Galaxy S8 0.75
LG G6 0.78
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
BlackBerry KEYone 70.1
Apple iPhone 7 78.1
Samsung Galaxy S8 78
LG G6 74
View all


138 Comments
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posted on 04 May 2017, 08:06 6

1. Plasticsh1t (Posts: 2443; Member since: 01 Sep 2014)


BB is back on track with a very unique smartphone. Good job.

posted on 04 May 2017, 10:45 4

17. LebronJamesFanboy (Posts: 660; Member since: 23 Mar 2013)


I'm buying one no matter what. Still going to use my Mi Note 2 or GS7 Edge as daily drivers, but I just can't help it.

This phone looks so damn good to me in terms of build and hardware.

posted on 04 May 2017, 13:29

27. DoggyDangerous (Posts: 1015; Member since: 28 Aug 2015)


I am going to pass on and will opt for Xiaomi mi6. Blackberry has killed this beautiful phone for me by opting for low end soc.

I wish that there will be KeyTwo or Keyone pro with sd835 in future.

posted on 04 May 2017, 13:32 4

28. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


There will be a KEYtwo. Not sure it will be the one with the flagship specs, but there is a BlackBerry branded handset coming out from BlackBerry Mobile with a flagship SoC in it.

posted on 04 May 2017, 13:36 3

29. BuffaloSouce (Posts: 383; Member since: 01 May 2017)


It doesn't need the 835 because its not a power hungry media toy like every flagship

posted on 04 May 2017, 15:41 5

33. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


Totally agree with you there. This handset is meant for productivity and getting work done, and this handset more than provides that as is.

posted on 05 May 2017, 15:00 3

36. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)


But it costs almost as much as a flagship. It doesn't have a QHD screen, so it's not like it would have been difficult to include a better processor.

posted on 05 May 2017, 16:10 3

43. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


I'm actually glad that they didn't include a power hungry processor as opposed to a more power efficient one this time around. This handset screams productivity, and part of productivity means having fantastic power management.

posted on 06 May 2017, 00:34

49. DoggyDangerous (Posts: 1015; Member since: 28 Aug 2015)


I think that productivity mean, to have a powerful soc.

I have a powerful desktop in the office to accommodate the productivity related task. Because a PC with a normal specs cannot accommodate Photoshop, Coral, AutoCAD, eagle eye etc.

posted on 06 May 2017, 01:39

50. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


You don't necessarily need the latest and greatest in SoC's for proper productivity. You need something that manages power more and that's less power hungry so you're not plugging your device in 2 or 3 times just to get through the day.

posted on 06 May 2017, 10:28

51. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)


I agree. Some productivity options, like the ones you listed above, would require a much better SoC than what's provided in the KeyONE. Some people don't see that because they think that they are the only ones who will benefit from the KeyONE.

posted on 06 May 2017, 11:16

59. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


Some people don't understand that we are talking about smartphones, and SoC at hand is more than up to the task. But of course, some people will say anything negative (not you) about a BlackBerry branded handset, and think that they're he only ones who will benefit from them.

posted on 08 May 2017, 07:47

72. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)


Understand that you can't say anything about blackberry that is even slightly negative otherwise you'll have to hear the salty tears and butthurt from a wasp. Best to just put on a beekeeper suit and spray some Raid on it.

I agree about the SoC can be better. They could have used the same one the G6 is using or even the SD 810.

posted on 08 May 2017, 07:59

79. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


Understand that there cannot be a BlackBerry article without its resident troll trying to stir up negativity, even when there is none to begin with. He keeps on crying out in pain every time there is a positive article concerning BlackBerry, as if BlackBerry touched him on his "special parts" when he was a cub.

This is arguably the best SD SoC available for power management, which lends to productivity, which is what BlackBerry is all about. The battery benchmarks prove it.

posted on 08 May 2017, 14:31

86. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)


[Deleted]

posted on 08 May 2017, 15:14

95. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


Lol, either autocorrect made a fail out of you once again, or you're too much of a coward to direct your comments at me.

posted on 09 May 2017, 14:18

103. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)


You're the last person who should be talking about Autocorrect fail.

And no, I'm not afraid of directing anything. I'm not a keyboard warrior like you.

posted on 09 May 2017, 14:33

115. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


Pot, meet kettle.

Lies, lies, and more lies, cowardly keyboard warrior.

posted on 11 May 2017, 11:16

121. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)


Back at you.

Pot meet the motherf-ing kettle, btch.

posted on 11 May 2017, 12:11

127. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


A "no, you" response. Another thing you always complain about. Hypocrisy at its finest.

Lol, still touching that nerve deep in your gut, I see.

posted on 08 May 2017, 14:33

87. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)


Understand that there cannot be a blackberry article without a certain someone giving their typical "BlackBerry is the best" sales pitch. Heaven forbid you say something otherwise because then he will hound you until he gets the last word in because he's just that petty. Methinks he has shoved too many BlackBerry's up his rear.

This is arguably an excuse to make for an expensive midrange phone.

posted on 08 May 2017, 15:13

94. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


Lol, BlackBerry is best for me. I know that hurts you to your very rotten core, as you have already admitted to making ignorant statements on BlackBerry articles because of me. Heaven forbid that someone else actually like what BlackBerry has to offer, because it sends you into a trolling frenzy because you expect everyone to hate BlackBerry because you do. A device BlackBerry clearly has been rammed up your burned bum as a child, as there is really no other reason (besides me, of course. You even admitted to making ignorant comments because of me.) that you would hate BlackBerry so much.

This is a great midrange phone, and you can't stand it.

posted on 09 May 2017, 14:21

104. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)


I figured you would be triggered by the cold heart truth. You just can't stand the fact that I am correct. And once again your superiority complex rears its ugly head. The world doesn't revolve around you.

I don't deny it being a good midrange phone. It's just lacking the midrange price.

posted on 09 May 2017, 14:37

116. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


Lol, I figured you seeing the word "BlackBerry" in the title would trigger you into one of your troll rants. And you've already admitted to making willfully ignorant comments on BlackBerry articles, so you're not fooling anyone. The world isn't as stupid as you are.

You're hating on it because it's a BlackBerry. This is something you're already known for on this site, and it's your own fault.

posted on 11 May 2017, 11:20

122. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)


I figured you would copy my response. You're incapable of coming up with your own material, cornball, to take a page out of your book. Get over yourself. I can talk about whatever subject I want, and I don't need your permission to do so. There's not a d@mn thing you can do about it, so get over it..

Whatever man.

posted on 11 May 2017, 12:14

128. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


Says I'm incapable of coming up with my own material, yet he steals JPlightnings words like "cornball" all the time. What a hypocrite, lol. And get over yourself. I can challenge any trolling, factually incorrect and ignorant statement made in a public forum, and I don't need your permission to do so. There's not a gottdam (thanks, JP!) thing you can do about it, so get over it....

Mxy code for, "Meanest is telling the truth."

posted on 21 May 2017, 14:19

134. Admonisher (Posts: 10; Member since: 22 Aug 2015)


Yeah, if you are going to have a desktop taking space, might as well turn it into a useful beast that covers all of your needs : work, creativity and play.

posted on 06 May 2017, 00:29

48. DoggyDangerous (Posts: 1015; Member since: 28 Aug 2015)


It doesn't need but I need as a consumer.

posted on 06 May 2017, 10:29

52. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)


Of course someone would say otherwise just because I disagreed. Smh, what a brick wall.

posted on 06 May 2017, 11:14

58. meanestgenius (Posts: 17280; Member since: 28 May 2014)


Of course someone would prove that he's a hypocrite and say otherwise because I disagree with him. Some people are just dumb as dirt with the judgement of jelly.

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PhoneArena rating:
8.5Excellent
Display4.5 inches, 1080 x 1620 pixels (433 ppi) IPS LCD
Camera12 megapixels
Hardware
Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, Octa-core, 2000 MHz, ARM Cortex-A53 processor
3 GB RAM
Size5.87 x 2.85 x 0.37 inches
(149.1 x 72.4 x 9.4 mm)
6.35 oz  (180 g)

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