The BlackBerry PRIV, while a solid, all round attempt, wasn’t perfect and left quite a bit to be desired when it came to overall performance. It was decent, but it lagged behind the iPhone and Galaxy S releases at the time. Still, it did give BlackBerry a chance to show off what it could do with Android.
The BlackBerry KEYone is the phone maker’s next play for the Android space and it is a very bizarre kettle of fish indeed! It’s kind of pricey when you examine the specs, but it is still positioned well below the asking price for the Galaxy S8 and the incoming iPhone 8.
I have now completed my review of the BlackBerry KEYone and I can safely say that it is one of the best phones I have tested in the past six months. I love the way it looks – it looks unlike anything else on market right now – and it performs like an absolute champion, despite the fact it is running slightly below par specs.
I wasn’t expecting much from the KEYone, not after the DTEK50, but after just a few short days with the handset, I came to a simple conclusion: this is the first proper BlackBerry phone we’ve had since the Passport. It looks like a BlackBerry. It performs like a BlackBerry. And it has a proper BlackBerry keyboard.
The BlackBerry KEYone is also A LOT cheaper than most of its peers. This is important because, in a world of $1000 flagships, a phone like the BlackBerry KEYone starts to look very interesting, indeed…
This was a smart move by BlackBerry; it cannot complete on brand, so it needs to complete on value and shows customers that there is another, cheaper way of doing phone stuff.
“In software,” reports FORTUNE, “adjusted sales totaled $169 million, up just 2% from last year and about $15 million less than Wall Street expected. And Blackberry said it had orders from 3,000 customers, down from 3,500 the previous quarter. The sales slight increase didn’t make up for the 76% plunge in hardware revenues, to just $37 million. Blackberry last year licensed the right to make phones with its brand to to Chinese manufacturer TCL Communications, which introduced a new model called the KeyOne in February.”
The KEYone harks back to a more classic BlackBerry design; it’s like the Passport and Priv had a baby or something. It’s smart, well styled and designed purely to be a working machine.
Speaking at the BlackBerry KEYone launch event at Selfridges, Johnathan Young, UK Country Manager for BlackBerry Mobile said “We are delighted to launch the BlackBerry KEYone first in the UK with Selfridges. Selfridges voted world’s best department store three times consecutively have been a longtime supporter of BlackBerry. Our retail strategy is to be where our customers are and, as a multichannel retailer dealing in the premium end of the market, Selfridges reflects BlackBerry KEYone’s identity in the smartphone market.”
“Our retail strategy is to be where our customers are and, as a multichannel retailer dealing in the premium end of the market, Selfridges reflects BlackBerry KEYone’s identity in the smartphone market.”
“We want to congratulate BlackBerry Mobile on the UK launch of the BlackBerry KEYone.” said Bosse Myhr, Selfridges Director of Technology, Home and Menswear “We are thrilled to be the first UK retailer to offer customers the BlackBerry KEYone at our flagship Oxford Street store and provide them with a premium smartphone that aligns with their unique and discerning style.”
BlackBerry KEYone Specs & Features:
The big USP with the BlackBerry KEYone, obviously, is its keyboard. The full QWERTY keyboard is designed to offer more utility than a touchscreen one as well as faster typing and a more familiar environment for composition.
BlackBerry has backed everything up with some pretty impressive specs, which include:
- Android Nougat
- 4.5” 1620 x 1080 IPS LCDscratch-resistant display
- Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 625 Octa-Core 2.0 GHz, 64-bit Adreno 506, 650MHz GPU
- 8MP front camera with flash
- 12MP auto-focus large pixel rear camera
- 3 GB RAM
- 32 GB Flash
- Fingerprint Sensor
- USB Type-C
- 3505 mAh battery
- BlackBerry Security software
Why BlackBerry opted to go for Qualcomm’s lesser Snapdragon platform remains to be seen; the 625, while potent, is very much a mid-range chipset and, let’s be honest here, BlackBerry IS NOT charging mid-range prices for this handset.
The camera tech is on point though, as is storage and memory. I still can’t see any hardcore Android fans being tempted by these specs, however, so I suspect BlackBerry is being a lot more focussed with its target market for this phone.
BlackBerry highlighted the following features at launch:
- An iconic BlackBerry smartphone made reliable for the demanding user, the BlackBerry KEYone combines a sleek aluminum frame and soft grip textured back built to offer the best in durability.
- Runs Android 7.1 Nougat – giving users access to the entire Google Play store and apps – and will receive Google™ security patch updates.
- QWERTY Keyboard – Forget what you knew about keyboards, the BlackBerry Smart Keyboard goes beyond typing. It can be easily programmed to launch up to 52 customizable shortcuts, providing even greater ease of use.
- …And use it to scroll through web pages, the picture gallery or to take a picture.
- BlackBerry Hub – Bringing all your messages into one consolidated place; including emails, texts, and messages from any social media account.
- Security features – The BlackBerry KEYone is designed to offer the most secure Android smartphone experience possible.
- Long battery life – Featuring the largest battery ever found in a BlackBerry smartphone, the BlackBerry KEYone offers roughly 26 hours of mixed use, thanks to its 3505mAh battery.
- Camera – The BlackBerry KEYone includes a 12MP rear camera with an industry leading camera sensor that captures sharp, crisp photos in any light. And for when you have to take a video conference on the go, it includes an 8MP front camera with fixed focus and 84-degree wide angle lens.
The BlackBerry KEYone is available from Selfridges. Prices start at £499.
You can read my full review of the BlackBerry KEYone for a complete breakdown of the handset.
BlackBerry KEYone Available From £36 Per Month (Carphone Warehouse)
The BlackBerry KEYone is now widely available from Carphone Warehouse in the UK.
The handset starts at £36 a month, which is pretty darn cheap, and so far has been receiving glowing reviews from users’ on the site.
You can pick the handset up for £499 SIM-free too, if that’s more your thing.
You can check out ALL the deals over on Carphone Warehouse’s site.