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BlackBerry KEYone Review

BlackBerry KEYone

Posted: , by Stephen S.

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Call Quality

Good audio quality and a comfortable grip make this BlackBerry a strong voice-call performer

BlackBerry KEYone Review
Stereotypes about BlackBerry users and them being not quite the fastest to embrace new technologies sure had us thinking that voice calls would still be a priority when it came to the KEYone's design, and we're happy to say that the phone hasn't let us down when it comes to call quality.

More than just sounding good, the KEYone feels good to use for even extended-length calls, with its metal frame feeling secure and sturdy in the hand, while that fake-leather back texture gives you something pleasing to grip.

Battery Life

With utterly fantastic battery life, the KEYone goes from useful curiosity to all-day productivity powerhouse

Already, we've seen a good amount of things to like about the KEYone, and many of those centered around its surprisingly versatile keyboard. But the most impressive part of this smartphone may not be the keyboard, or anything related to the BlackBerry name at all. Instead, we're captivated by its jaw-dropping battery life.

There's a lot going right here that supports what you'd need to build a phone with killer battery life. We've got that Snapdragon 625 processor, which is practically second-to-none when it comes to creating handsets with exceptionally low power demands. Then there's also the pint-sized screen, and while we have to presume that that's primarily a decision meant to save room for the keyboard, it also helps reduce the phone's power consumption. Finally, we've got a beefy 3,505mAh battery, one that's large enough to power full-blown phablets; and instead, it's providing massive power reserves for a phone that doesn't need a ton of juice to begin with.

BlackBerry KEYone Review

The end result of all that is a phone that's capable of continuous screen-on operation for easily north of twelve hours. Want a reliable smartphone that won't give you any issues at all getting through a full day of usage? Look no further than the KEYone.

Recharge times are no slouch, either, and we were able to power the KEYone from empty to full in just shy of two hours. Really, the only thing that could make the battery situation on this phone any better would be if it supported wireless charging. Just think how nice that would be, pairing the stylish KEYone with a matching wireless charging stand, maybe decked out in soft leather. But given just how well everything else works here, even that seems like picking at straws. Make no mistake about it: the KEYone is an absolute champ when it comes to battery life.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
BlackBerry KEYone 12h 26 min (Excellent)
Apple iPhone 7 7h 46 min (Good)
Samsung Galaxy S8 8h 22 min (Excellent)
LG G6 6h 9 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
BlackBerry KEYone 115
Apple iPhone 7 141
Samsung Galaxy S8 100
LG G6 97
View all

Conclusion


BlackBerry KEYone Review

Maybe of all the phones we've looked at so far this year, the BlackBerry KEYone was the easiest to let prejudices affect our enthusiasm for the handset. BlackBerry as a brand? Hasn't that experiment played out by now? Hardware QWERTY keyboards on phones? Haven't we all agreed that on-screen keyboards are the obvious way to go?

And when we looked at the middle-of-the-road specs, combined with pricing that, while below flagship level, is still north of similarly-equipped mid-range competition, it was easy to think that the KEYone was attempting to fill some niche that just didn't seem to exist in reality.

BlackBerry KEYone Review
But then we actually started using the phone, and while it didn't happen overnight, eventually we “got it.”

The KEYone is just so different from every other smartphone out there on the market that it takes a little while to appreciate all that it has to offer. We absolutely love things like its stellar battery life, but that's something any phone could do (if the manufacturer set its mind to it). What's really special about the KEYone is how the keyboard enhances the user experience.

On-screen keyboards have gotten so, so good over the past five years that even former hardware-QWERTY die-hards have likely graduated to software systems with predicative text, swipe input, and all that other modern good stuff. But when you start using the KEYone's keyboard you realize that it's more than just an array of physical buttons. It does predictions, it accepts swipe gestures, and it really does go a long way towards offering a best-of-both-worlds compromise.

We'll freely admit that going back to hardware keys takes a bit of adjusting, but it's just so satisfying to type on all these clicky, responsive keys that you'll be looking for extra opportunities to do so – and that means that you'll be getting plenty of practice in. And when we stack on extras like app-launch shortcuts and using the keyboard as a touchpad to effortlessly scroll the phone's screen, that's only making a good thing better.

The KEYone still isn't a phone for everyone. And at just about $550, it's still a little more expensive than we'd like it to be. But for the right user, it's just such an extremely satisfying phone to operate that all its missteps and eccentricities don't seem to really matter. This is a phone that knows exactly what it wants to be, and has no qualms in doing things its own way. That's an increasingly rare thing in today's homogenized smartphone market, and that TCL is able to do it so successfully with the KEYone is all the more impressive.

Thought BlackBerry phones were on the way out? If they're able to recapture some of this KEYone magic for another couple BlackBerry handsets, you may be very much reconsidering that fate.



Pros

  • Incredibly satisfying hardware keyboard
  • Beautiful, solid-feeling construction
  • Phenomenal battery life
  • Decent, reliable camera

Cons

  • Pricing steep compared to similarly-specced phones
  • No extras like wireless charging/waterproofing
  • BlackBerry apps can be hit-and-miss
  • Unusual screen size/shape and device layout isn't for everyone
PhoneArena rating:
8.5Excellent
User rating:
Not rated
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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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