BlackBerry KEYone Impressions: A Whole Lot Of Character With A Couple Of Flaws

Simon Alvarez - Author

Feb. 26 2017, Updated 6:43 p.m. ET

BlackBerry is back, and while its latest device was not a homegrown effort like the Priv, the smartphone maker’s recently revealed flagship, the KEYone, is arguably its best smartphone in years. Running Android 7.1 and built like a classic BlackBerry, initial impressions of the KEYone are largely positive.

The device, however, is not perfect, as the BlackBerry KEYone, previously codenamed Mercury, also includes a couple of flaws that might discourage consumers from purchasing the device. Here is a look at what early reviewers are saying about the BlackBerry KEYone.

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A Whole Lot Of Character

If there is one thing that the BlackBerry KEYone has, it is character. Proudly standing with a physical keyboard in the sea of glass slabs that is the smartphone market, the KEYone is arguably one of the most unique devices today. Sam Byford of The Verge stated in an early review that the KEYone might very well be the first BlackBerry in the long time that could very well be attractive to the majority of the mobile market.

Clad in aluminum and covered in Gorilla Glass 4 on the front, the KEYone’s 4.5 LCD display dominates most of the device’s front. While the KEYone’s screen does not feature an AMOLED panel, its premium 4.5-inch LCD’s 1620 x1080 resolution allows the images in the KEYone’s display to be as pin-sharp as possible. A powerful camera, the same 12-megapixel Sony sensor with 1.55-micron pixels found in the Google Pixel, stands prominently in the back.

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Being a BlackBerry, the defining feature of the KEYone is its physical keyboard. Practically being the only flagship smartphone with physical keys, the KEYone immediately sets itself apart from the rest of its competitors. In true BlackBerry fashion, the keyboard on the KEYone is excellent, with YouTube reviewer Mr. Mobile stating that the keys on the current flagship are far superior to those featured in the BlackBerry Priv.

Just like the BlackBerry Priv, however, the KEYone’s physical keyboard also doubles as a touchpad, with the space bar being set as the fingerprint sensor of the device. Apart from this, the keys in the KEYone could be programmed to act as shortcuts to apps. Thus, Facebook-savvy users of the BlackBerry KEYone could simply press “F” to open the social media platform.

Being a BlackBerry device, the KEYone is equipped with the best security suite that the tech giant has to offer, which makes the device one of the most secure smartphones in the market today. Coupled with its large 3505mAh battery and Quick Charge 3.0 technology that can give up to 50 percent battery power in just 36 minutes, the KEYone would most likely be one of the endurance champions of this year’s flagship devices.

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The Flaws

Inasmuch as the BlackBerry KEYone is a compelling device, the flagship does have a couple of big issues that would most likely make it a tough sell to consumers. Unlike most flagships on the market, the KEYone ships with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, an SoC geared more towards the midrange market. Coupled with just 3GB of RAM, the KEYone is downright underpowered compared to its rivals in the smartphone industry. Nevertheless, early impressions of the device show no lag or drop in performance during the smartphone’s operation.

This is not all, however, as the BlackBerry KEYone is also quite expensive for its specs. Priced at $549, the KEYone is arguably expensive, especially since similarly-specced rivals exist far below its price range. As stated by users in the CrackBerry forum, however, the KEYone is not really designed for the mainstream market. It is attractive and unique enough to be a compelling device for everyday smartphone users, but at its core, it is a device created as means to tap into the enterprise demographic that the company used to dominate in the past. In this respect, at least, the KEYone definitely appears to be the right bet for the smartphone maker.

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[Featured Image by Pixabay]


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