Product Review: BlackBerry KEYone Smartphone


Rating : 4.29

TCL now makes phones under the BlackBerry banner.

It’s called the KEYone and it blends a powerful physical keyboard with an all-day battery that a lot of productivity nuts will go gaga for.

FULL REVIEW at Tom’s Guide: http://bit.ly/toms_blackberry

As far as design goes, the keyboard really does take center stage.

It occupies a huge chunk of the front of the phone making the screen feel a little small – especially when compared to the newer iPhone and Samsung Galaxy.

TCL claims that you actually get more usable screen space with the KeyOne than you would with a conventional 5.5-inch screen, since there’s no virtual keyboard.

When you use apps for browsing, chat and surfing the web, that’s certainly true, but when we’re talking about Netflix, or YouTube you feel a little jipped!

What it lacks in screen, it more than makes up for in weight. It’s heavier than the LG G6, Google Pixel and Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Its anodized aluminum frame makes it feel like it could definitely survive a drop, although the textured back gives you confidence that’ll you’re never likely to have it slip out of your hands.

Just as you’d expect from a BlackBerry, there’s a physical QWERTY keyboard.

If you’re anything like me and have spent the better part of a decade getting comfortable with a virtual keyboard, going back to physical keys might take some getting used to.

More than just your traditional keyboard though, TCL has built several helpful capabilities into its functionality, making the keyboard one the best features on the phone.

The space bar doubles as a fingerprint sensor, and does a really good job too. The sensor is about as accurate as the one on my iPhone.

The keyboard doubles as a trackpad, which doesn’t sound like a big deal until you scroll through an article or a lengthy email without ever moving your finger onto the display.

The keyboard is also riddled shortcuts.

Each letter key can be programmed with up to two shortcuts — one for a long press and another for a short one.

That gives you up to 52 potential shortcuts.

Display and Audio

Abandoning something like Samsung’s new Infinity Display for a screen that’s hemmed in by a keyboard seems a little counterproductive.

Of course, TCL says, the 4.5-inch display offers plenty of room for composing emails or reading articles.

The KeyOne’s LCD screen does a solid – though unspectacular – job of reproducing 134% of the sRGB color gamut.

That’s ok, but obviously no match for an AMOLED panel like the one on the Galaxy S8 or Pixel XL.

It’s got one speaker (here on the bottom) and it does a great job. The audio was crisp and loud. You won’t have to crank up the volume.

Performance

There’s a mid-tier Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 mobile processor on the inside, which makes sense.

TCL says that people using the KeyOne are primarily looking for a communications device – not mobile gaming.

As for software, it includes the company’s Dtek app.

This app monitors the security of the device, giving you an overall rating and walking you through how to ratchet up your phone’s security.

Dtek also monitors which apps are accessing which permissions, even allowing you to set alerts if an app tries to do something like access your contacts or turn on the phone’s microphone.

Battery

The standout feature is the battery!

The KeyOne’s battery lasted 12 hours, 47 minutes.

That’s more than 3 hours longer than the average smartphone, and an hour-and-a-half better than both the Galaxy S8+ and Pixel XL.

In fact, the BlackBerry KeyOne is the third longest-lasting smartphone we’ve tested in the last two years, bested only by the Moto Z Play and LG X Power.

When the battery does finally die, TCL promises a 50% charge in about 30 minutes.

And, the KeyOne also offers a “Boost” mode for those times when you don’t have an hour to charge up your phone.

Bottom Line

Look, if you’re often overcome with nostalgia for a phone that’s got a physical keyboard, you’re gonna like the KeyOne.

The functionality built into the keyboard is great. The and long-lasting battery is even better.

Sure, the $550 price tag might be hard to swallow, but the combination of BlackBerry’s software and hardware that’ll make you more productive, can’t be overlooked.

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