Launched in April 2017, the BlackBerry KeyOne is approaching its first year anniversary. It is the most recent BlackBerry smartphone with a hardware keyboard. It also belongs to the new guard of BlackBerry smartphones, as it runs Android OS and not the now discontinued BlackBerry 10 OS.
A quick list of key specs: it has a 4.5-inch display with Gorilla Glass, 4GB RAM, Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, a 3505mAh battery and QuickCharge 3.0. Those are respectable specs. Well, minus the 4.5 inches screen, which is small among today’s flagship smartphones. But that is understandable: if you want a hardware keyboard on a candy bar form factor, you must be ready to accommodate a smaller display.
A tweet by long-time Mobilista, Ekene, triggered a conversation that shed some light on his experience with the Keyone. Ekene was my guest on an episode of Hangout With Mister Mo back in 2013. His tweet read, “I miss my Galaxy Note 4 when I need to read an ebook or play Marvel’s #FutureFight but overall the #BlackberryKeyone is the best device I’ve used for productivity since my BlackBerry Z3 in 2014”. Here is the tweet embedded:
I miss my Galaxy Note 4 when I need to read an ebook or play Marvel's #FutureFight but overall the #BlackberryKeyone is the best device I've used for productivity since my BlackBerry Z3 in 2014. pic.twitter.com/63jri7lBdD
— Xavier (@Dzschesh) February 22, 2018
So I asked Ekene what set the Keyone that high for him, and he was gracious to share. These were his thoughts about the Blackberry keyone:
PKB has me more conscious of my spellings. I am less likely to be aimless on social media or gaming like on Galaxy Note 4 because the PKB ‘gets in the way’, reminding me these aren’t what it was primarily designed for. The camera is also wicked – so it is not all business. I can now take HD nudes.
At the end of the day, it is so much easier to deal with mobile-related distractions with the Keyone. I can’t count how many times I got lost watching The Voice on YouTube with Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The black bars on the screen and the smaller screen size here ensure I never get carried away.
It handles these things well enough, but you get the sense it wants you to go back to your email or browser or Evernote, as these are where it truly shines.
My response to this was, “I like how you paint the picture. Is it accurate to say that the Keyone might be an Android smartphone but it is still a BlackBerry in spirit?” And Ekene replied with, “Precisely.”
There are not a lot of smartphones made in 2017 that have a hardware keyboard. But Blackberry pulled it off and they seem to have done an excellent job with the Keyone. It has all the benefits of Android OS – apps and services – yet has BlackBerry’s signature design that pulls the user more towards productivity than consumption.
Google has the Keyone on its list of Android Enterprise recommended devices for corporate/business use. It would have been a shock if it wasn’t listed. BlackBerry has one of the most secure implementations of Android OS available and also provides speedy software updates to those phones, including the Keyone.
Last year, I wrote about how the Keyone was overpriced at launch. Perhaps it would have sold more if it had been given a more competitive price tag. It is has gotten a price cut here and there since then, so you can probably get it for less now.