Originally announced at CES 2017, and allegedly scheduled for release next month, the BlackBerry KEYone is supposed to be last in-house design from the mobile giants. The company is using its traditional three-row physical keyboard with a number pad situated on the left.
It’s generally considered that the QWERTY keyboard on the Bold 9000, released in 2008, is the holy grail of phone keyboards, and while BlackBerry might fall short of that with its new phone, it is undoubtedly a far cry from the keyboard used on the previous instalment, the BlackBerry Priv.
You can use it to scroll without touching the screen; you can assign each key a shortcut, like “I for Instagram” app speed-dial; you can just start typing to start searching Google. There’s also a fingerprint sensor on the space bar, combined with the fairly narrow screen, the keyboard makes the KEYone feel really good to use one-handed.
The BlackBerry KEYone holds a Gorilla Glass 4 protected 4.5-inch LCD display with a 1080×1920 resolution (FHD). It’s powered by the Snapdragon 625 chip featuring an octa-core 2.0GHz CPU and the Adreno 506 GPU. RAM stands at 3GB with 32GB of native storage. It also houses a microSD slot with a 2TB capacity for those of you who seek additional storage.
The rear camera sensor is the same one found on the Google Pixel, which means it’s the Sony IMX378 and it captures at 12MP and has a f/2.0 aperture and PDAF laser focusing. The front-facing camera on the KEYone is 8MP and will also contain the same sensor used on the Pixel, which is the Samsung Omnivision.
The battery is 3505mAh which provides long battery life and a Quick Charge 3.0 will half charge the battery in just 35 minutes.
BlackBerry is also concentrating on security with the KEYone, launching the phone with Android 7.1 and committing to issuing Google’s monthly security patches. Among BlackBerry mainstays like BBM and the BlackBerry Hub, the KEYone comes with the same BlackBerry DTEK software pre-loaded on TCL’s earlier BlackBerry devices; it monitors the phone’s status, analyses how secure it is, and gives you granular control over how services are able to use its functions.
BlackBerry have struggled to keep up with the smart phone market, with people favouring Samsung or Apple. But with the updated physical keyboard and an OS update to Android, as well as the processing power and huge expandable storage, I think the KEYone is definitely one to watch.
Get your microSD card here ahead of launch to avoid disappointment at launch