Over the past few years, BlackBerry is trying hard to keep the smartphone business momentum going, but the more the Canadian giant spreads its wings, the more it felt like something cut them. BlackBerry Priv, Classic, DTEK 50, Passport are some of the recently launched smartphones that all looked great but failed to garnered a good response from consumers and left BlackBerry dwindling to attract new users.
In February, BlackBerry announced its partnership with Optiemus to licence software and services for the production of secure Android handsets in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. Under the terms of the agreement, BlackBerry will licence its security software and services suite, as well as related brand assets to Optiemus Infracom Ltd.
Optiemus will design, manufacture, sell, promote and provide customer support for BlackBerry-branded mobile devices that offer the full BlackBerry experience, including the trusted BlackBerry for Android secure software.
Last month, BlackBerry launched its flagship smartphone KEYone ‘Limited Edition Black’ in India at Rs 39,990. Will KEYone be able to breathe life in to the sinking smartphone business. Let’s find out.
QWERTY layout design
The smartphone may look heavy but is evenly weighed with rounded edges and for a near bezel less feel just like in the Galaxy S8. The antenna bands are outside the metal frame just like the iPhone. Overall the built quality is top notch.
However, button placement is weird and it might take time to adjust. Where there is power button (usually present on the right), you will find a new “Convenience” button. Power button is located on the left side of the smartphone
The BlackBerry KEYone is not water resistant but looks drop resistant as compared to other premium flagships.
The display is 1080p in the Quad-HD world and struggles in brightness department. When going from 75 to 100 brightness, you will hardly feel a difference. Also, when compared to the display of OnePlus 5, the BlackBerry KEYone produced more natural colours, black seemed much truer and shaded of green and reds were a pleasure to watch. The colours on OnePlus 5 looked more brighter and over saturated.
Speedy performance with few bumps
Given the price, the BlackBerry KEYone fits nicely in line with decent 2017 hardware and combines the best of BlackBerry’s productivity, security and privacy features with the wide world of Google Play store apps.
The Snapdradon 625 processor clubbed with 3GB of RAM delivered powerful performance and a smooth multitasking for a normal to typical use. The full-HD display produced great contrast ratio and colours. During the BlackBerry KEYone review period, the device handled games very well with no hint of lag even in high-end games. We played Elite Killer, Gods of Rome, Asphalt 8: Airborne and did not find anything much to complain and graphics in gaming were held up strongly.
But, I did find some issues with device. There was abrupt vanishing of network and also took a few more seconds while opening apps like Instagram, Snapchat etc. Also, at times KEYone turned itself off automatically without the need to press power button which to me was irritating. It might be a issue of hardware, but it just did.
The multitasking window displays recently used apps in the form of a tray in different sizes, we are not sure why but that’s the way it is. BlackBerry hub is same as last year, gathering all information in one place from text to email to Instagram – basically all your information piles up onto one place without the need to navigate through different apps.
Keyboard and typing experience
While the keys in hardware keyboard are, tiny and are close together, however they pack some tricks into it for those who want to use that keyboard.
The USP of the device’s keyboard is its customisation wherein you can map literally any of the keys on the keyboard to act as a launch shortcut. You can also pick any app or any shortcut both for a short press and for a long press of that key. Thus, each button can launch two different keys.
The keyboard also doubles up as a scroller without getting you finger on the screen. Thus, for Instagram users, there would be no accidental double taps, but swiping hard hits the home button which is why I preferred using the keyboard scroll in the landscape mode.
Users can also map the convenience button on the right allows you to launch any application or shortcut.
The camera on KEYone is one of best snapper on BlackBerry till now. The smartphone offers a 12MP rear camera with dual tone LED flash, Sony IMX378 sensor, f/2.0 aperture and phase-detection auto-focus.
The rear camera captured appreciable amount of detail in images and pictures looked pleasant on the display. Hues of blue, black and green looked great. But, the 16MP rear camera of OnePlus 5 captured truer colours and is definitely a step up as compared to KEYone camera. Also for editing, purposes, the images of KEYone are not appropriates and got pixelated.
Below are some of the sample images.
The 3,505mAh battery powers the KEYone and delivers enough juice to last for a day on mixed usage including social media apps, light gaming and other productivity tools.
The charging indicator is intuitive and takes the form of a bar in right side of display and grows bigger once the battery charging is increasing and also tells you the time it requires for the full charge.
The BlackBerry KEYone comes with good ideas, bunch of productivity tricks but still will not be enough to win over the likes of Apple and Samsung. I may not be the demographic audience but the smartphone will be cheered by fans of Blackberry who would like to have a Blackberry device coupled with Google's services and with physical keyboard.