Blackberry KEYone Black Edition 64GB Evaluation

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

Product: Blackberry KEYone Black Edition 64GB Smartphone
Provided By: Blackberry Canada
Price: $649 CAD ($509 USD) at time of publication



Over the past month, I've been using one of the more anticipated Blackberry devices since the odd Blackberry Passport launched. The KEYone is the successor to that device and this one packs in a current version of Android, a solid processor, lots of RAM and a few other features that make it distinctly Blackberry. While this one is made by TCL, the specifications show a lot of promise and with it weighing in with 64GB of built-in storage as well as a MicroSD card slot, things keep looking up. This is the first Blackberry device I've used in many years, so I really hoped that it lived up to my expectations. While it certainly isn't an entry-level phone, it's not quite a flagship either in terms of performance. It falls in the super-crowded mid-range device and as such it has a lot to compete with and live up to.



The KEYone is available at many wireless providers here in Canada, and our unit came to us unlocked and it works just fine on the Bell network. Before we spoil the ending, let's take a look at this device and what you get in the package as we kick things off.


First Look:

The Blackberry KEYone is a pretty interesting device as it is about the same size as a Samsung Galaxy S8 that has a 5.8-inch screen. The KEYone however, only has a 4.5-inch screen. A significant portion of the device is taken up with the physical keyboard and below-screen soft-buttons that control app switching, back and home functions. Once you get above these, you have a vivid 4.5-inch display that has a solid resolution of 1620x1080 at 433 pixels per inch. The screen itself is no slouch, it's just an odd 2:3 aspect ratio.

The device is powered by a mid-range Snapdragon 625 processor that packs in eight cores running at a modest 2.0GHz. The GPU is an Adreno 506 that runs at 650Mhz. While it's not a Razer phone, it should be able to handle pretty much any casual game you want to throw at it while you wait for your next meeting.

KEYone - Open Box


The bundle included with the KEYone is pretty basic - and it works. Included is a nice set of earbuds, a changing cable, quick charger, SIM eject tool and a bit of paper to help you get started. The KEYone has bottom facing speakers that are decent and is in fact much better than a speaker located on the back of the device. The volume on the external speaker is good, but the audio-jack and included earbuds are what you really need to enjoy music. Thank goodness that Blackberry realizes that people want a headphone jack.

KEYone Bundle


The Snapdragon 625 is a pretty efficient processor and Blackberry has teamed that up with a massive 3505mAh battery to help you get the most out of the device. With the smaller screen size, efficient CPU and a large battery, you should expect to get more than a day out of the KEYone. The real test will be if you can get two. Having a device that lasts a day and a half isn't really any better in the practical sense, than a device that only gets a full day.

The button layout and position on the KEYone is a bit of a problem for me. The volume keys are located nicely on the right side and are within easy reach of your thumb. The power button is on the left side across from the top of the volume button. Those positions are pretty safe and work well. My issue is with the "convenience" key that is located below the volume buttons on the right side. It is conveniently located where you push it far too often and launch shortcuts (camera by default) constantly. Also, when you talk on the phone, this key defaults to mute the microphone - which you will likely do during 50% of your phone calls if you're right-handed. It's not convenient at all.

KEYone - Power Button
Power Button

KEYone - Volume and Convenience Keys
Volume & Convenience Keys


I absolutely hate the position of the convenience key - although I do like the idea of it for sure. You can setup what function you want it to perform when you are at work, on the road or at home. You can, in-fact program it to bring up a menu and then choose from three different applications, function or shortcuts. Still, I found myself pushing this way too often. During a call, muting and unmuting the microphone became a game of frustrating, albeit, non-lethal Russian roulette and I didn't know if I was being heard or not. A software update could remove the mute feature, but the position of the key higher on the device would eliminate my biggest headaches with this device. While I found this to be incredibly frustrating, this is my experience with my larger hands and the way I use the device. Other people haven't experience (or complained) about this nearly as much as I have. Above the volume keys is the SIM card / MicroSD card slot. With 64GB of built-in storage, there are many that probably won't need additional space. If you're Jason Schneider, you'll be grabbing the biggest MicroSD card this supports (256GB) before you turn it on.

The top and bottom of the device are pretty basic with bottom speakers and a USB-C port and on the opposite end, a microphone and headphone jack. The microphone helps eliminate background noise and enhances speakerphone functionality.

KEYone - Bottom Speakers and USB-C
Bottom Speakers and USB-C

KEYone - Top Headphone and Microphone
Top Headphone and Microphone


While the storage is easily expandable, the battery is not easily replaceable. That is common, and while I don't like it - it seems to be the way things are these days.

On the next page, we'll cover more of the features and specifications from Blackberry and then talk about how well the device works in the real world and if you should consider the KEYone for your next business (or personal) device.