Blackberry KEYone phone: Full, in-depth review

So Blackberry just made one of the best Android smartphones ever

BlackBerry KEYone phone
  • BlackBerry KEYone phone
  • BlackBerry KEYone phone
  • BlackBerry KEYone phone
  • Expert Rating

    5.00 / 5

Pros

  • Accurate keyboard
  • Good battery
  • Solidly built
  • Great cameras
  • Fast
  • Good value

Cons

  • Small screen

Bottom Line

Blackberry just made one of the best all-round Android phones we've ever seen. Who knew? If your smartphone usage leans more towards text than multimedia, you should check this out.

Would you buy this?

Battery Life

Blackberry boasts that this is the largest battery it’s ever used in a phone but the power requirements of Android are incomparable to the company’s older, simpler devices. Certainly this doesn’t come close to the week-long battery-life of the emailer units that made Blackberry what it was in its heyday but still, the hefty 3,405 mAh unit performed very well indeed – lasting a day and a half under heavy use – it can be pushed to two days if you’re focusing on (non multimedia-based) work functions. Either way, it’s the longest lasting Android flagship we’ve seen in some time.

There are also the quick-charging features. It uses Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3 which, we’re told, allows for a 50 per cent charge in 36 minutes. There’s also a special Boost mode which gives it a spike charge if you’ve only got a few minutes. A handy on screen bar lets you quickly see what state it’s in.

Conclusion

To say we were surprised is an understatement. Blackberry (along with manufacturing partner TCL) has delivered the exact device that it needed to. It melds the best parts of Blackberry – the keyboard, security, management features and build-quality – seamlessly into the latest version of Android. Even if you never use the Blackberry features, you’re left with an excellent Android phone with a very useful keyboard. This is great for those who are more focused on text-based smartphone functions than viewing photos and watching movies.

We’ve reviewed many phones lately, and in the rare moments that we go back to a stalwart, it’s tended to be the Samsung Galaxy S8 (or Huawei P10 Plus if we need fine photography). However, speaking as people who are lost without a smartphone, we’re now finding that the keyboard (and to some extent, the message management features) of the KEYone have turned our head. Going back to other flagships feels like a step down.

To cap it all, at $899 (AUD... it's US$550) it’s undercutting much of the competition by hundreds of dollars. 

While it won’t suit everyone, this is one of the very best Android phones on the market to the point where it’s a Phone of the Year contender. All the old Blackberry users who left for Android and iPhone have a very viable route back into the fold and Blackberry even has an opportunity to gain new customers and fans with the KEYone. We did not expect to be writing that.

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