Blackberry KEYone Black Edition 64GB Evaluation - General Usage

Article Index
Blackberry KEYone Black Edition 64GB Evaluation
Features and Specifications
General Usage
Camera and Video Thoughts
Battery Life, Calling and More
Final Thoughts

Using the KEYone:

I've used Android devices for many years now, but had a other devices in the past including Windows Phones, Nokia devices and more. While my wife has had an Apple device, I've tried to stay away from "the dark side" as much as I can. I do love physical keyboards on phones though and loved my Nokia E71 as well as HTC Windows Phone slider back in the day for that very reason. Blackberry really was the one that perfected the physical keyboard on a phone, so I was very excited to get a chance to look at this phone in depth when they offered a review sample. 

In terms of hardware, it's more than capable. Software is courtesy of a no-nonsense install of Android - so that should be good as well. Those two bits are fantastic. While the device itself isn't cheap off contract, you'll be able to pick one up for free, or close to it, if you sign up on a new 2-year contract. 

KEYone

I installed a nice 64GB memory card as well as my SIM card into the KEYone and went through a quick setup process, initialed the transfer wizard - which worked like a charm. In a very short time I had a fully functioning, familiar device that had all my applications, accounts and data restored to it and it was ready to go. I enrolled a few fingerprints into it to help protect my data and was good to go. The fingerprint sensor is located on the space bar and is a great position for it.

The volume keys are conveniently located where a slight reach with your thumb controls the volume (if you're right-handed) and the power button is located opposite. The only thing that really frustrated me was the dedicated "convenience" key that is positioned too low on the right side to be considered convenient at all.

The screen is bright enough for usage in anything but direct sunlight and is average for vibrancy, contrast and overall usability. As the screen is an IPS LCD, it won't be as bright or as vivid as an AMOLED screen, but it keeps up with mainstream devices for sure. The 8-core processor has plenty of horsepower to record in 4K, slow motion and do most every task you need to get done. In fact, the Snapdragon 625 processor excels at providing enough horsepower, all while being quite efficient on battery usage. I'm not sure if the power management is to blame or perhaps the processor itself, but there were a few times where applications were quite laggy. Again, I'm not sure if the phone was simply trying to conserve power and the CPU / GPU wasn't speeding up, or if the phone simply lacks power for some applications. I have a hard time believing it's out of power with 8-cores running at 2GHz each. In fact, that should be more power than a new MacBook Air.

There is so much about the KEYone that sets it apart from a standard Android device. Blackberry has incorporated a "Privacy Shade" with blocks out most of the screen and lets your view either a variable sized round or rectangle section. It's a bit clunky, but if you're trying to keep your Christmas list away from prying eyes, it works well enough. Another feature of the device is that you can set the physical keyboard to a whole host of keyboard shortcuts. Think of each key on the keyboard as a macro key like you find on your high-end gaming keyboard for your PC. You can specify each key to do a specific function or launch a specific application by simply doing a long-press. For instance, you can set up the "C" key long press to launch the Chrome browser, "T" long press to launch Twitter and so on. You can specify each key to launch it's own application, settings and more. This is a brilliant bit that can be as simple or as complicated as you decide to make it.

The Blackberry KEYone is priced close to a flagship device with slightly-better-than-mainstream features. The keyboard is a great touch that works exceptionally well, but I'm not sure it's worth the $200 extra over a device with similar storage, RAM and CPU but without the keyboard.