Getting started with BlackBerry KEYOne: the physical keyboard doesn't die ever

Mobile World Congress has nice that start officially on Monday, some manufacturers already present their novelties. This is the case of BlackBerry who held my press conference Saturday night to formalize its new smartphone, the KEYOne. Present on the spot, we were able to take it in hand to give you our first impressions.

BlackBerry KEYone – Release Date and price

presented briefly at the last CES in Las Vegas under the name of Mercury, the new BlackBerry KEYOne (this is its official name) was finally formalized during this MWC 2017. The smartphone will be available from April in all over the world. Side tariff, this KEYOne is also quite interesting since it takes 599 euros in Europe. For your information, this is $ 549 in the USA.

AndroidPIT BlackBerry KEYone price
here are the prices in different currencies. © AndroidPIT

BlackBerry KEYone – Design and finish

the Key One is a phone created for the diehard fans of BlackBerry. Some previous smartphones of the manufacturer, as the DTEK50, have disappointed fans of the Canadian firm, if not the case of the KEYOne which is the first of a new generation of mobile BlackBerry smartphone manufactured by TCL (a second model should be launched this year). This new BlackBerry smartphone is clear in its position: it is for people who prefer physical keyboards. This market abandoned by other manufacturers is still depending on the brand trusted by many users, including former clients of the brand, aimed foremost productivity with their smartphone.

The phone is therefore thought to professional customers. The haptic feedback provides the physical keyboard is indeed impossible to recreate with a virtual keyboard and some people cannot do without this feature.

AndroidPIT BlackBerry KEYone back 4
here’s what looks like this BlackBerry back. © AndroidPIT

at the level of design, finished the slide-up of the private the KEYOne format is a one-piece smartphone consisting of a screen and a QWERTY keyboard. Despite the presence of the latter, the smartphone knows to be compact as there are still smaller than most smartphones of 5.5 inches ( Google Pixel XL , iPhone 7 more, OnePlus 3 T …). Below the screen, BlackBerry has retained the capacitive Android-specific navigation buttons.

Although the chassis is aluminum, the keys on the keyboard are plastic and the back of the smartphone features a coating with a pretty soft and rubbery finish. Small feature, the KEYOne offers a fingerprint reader that is built into the space bar on the keyboard on the face before the camera.  

AndroidPIT BlackBerry KEYone keyboard
would be BlackBerry without a physical keyboard? © AndroidPIT

the keyboard, like the Priv, is gifted with capacitive gestures. In practice, he does not just write. He is also a trackpad. You can slide upwards and downwards, to the left or to the right to move your homescreen, or even scroll through the applications. Other features are also possible: copy – paste, keyboard shortcuts, a double tap to bring up the cursor… The keyboard seems very close, at first glance, but turns finally excellent when used with both hands. 

For the rest, it’s traditional. We find the volume buttons on the right slice. Right, we have the location for Sims (Nano-SIMs) and the power button. Downstairs, there is a C Type USB plug and speakers. BlackBerry has kept a plug mini jack at the top of the unit.

AndroidPIT BlackBerry KEYone jack
mini-jack is always there! © AndroidPIT

if the finishes are in the whole quite serious, this rear coating a bit surprised and feels more low end than some competing flagships. It is also important to note that if it is BlackBerry that deals with the design and promotion, it is TCL, a Chinese company, which manufactures the smartphone. TCL is not a new one in the sector, the company already designing Alcatel smartphones.

BlackBerry KEYone – screen

the BlackBerry has KEYOne to a 4.5 inch screen with a Full HD (1620 x 1080 pixels) definition. On the side of technology, BlackBerry has opted for the IPS LCD. Unfortunately I could not take care of the smartphone in outdoor light conditions so I can’t really comment on the quality of the screen but at first glance it looks OK, the colors are rather well represented.

AndroidPIT BlackBerry KEYone front blurry less
a form associated with the physical, typical BlackBerry keyboard. © AndroidPIT

BlackBerry KEYone – software Interface

it’s Android 7.1 Nougat which takes place within the KEYOne BlackBerry. BlackBerry has confirmed that security updates will be broadcast continuously during the lifetime of the product, and this of course includes monthly updates of Google for Android security. BlackBerry also encrypted the processor for more security.

If you are familiar with the BlackBerry Android smartphones, so the interface don’t change of scenery you. Therefore, it remains very close to stock Android. Nevertheless, we found different BlackBerry additions the Organization, security and productivity-oriented. The House like BBM, BlackBerry Hub, and DTEK of BlackBerry apps are present.

AndroidPIT BlackBerry KEYone N
Android Nougat is there! © AndroidPIT

BlackBerry KEYone – performance

under the hood of the KEYOne is a 625 Snapdragon processor that takes place. Those who hoped for more with the Snapdragon 835 must be a reason: the first stocks are only for the S8 Samsung Galaxy. However, octacore Qualcomm processor is not ridiculous and has the merit to consume through the process 14 nm PPA. Coupled with 3 GB of RAM and a chip Adreno 506, it allows the smartphone to offer flawless fluidity. An extension for a microSD card is also part.

The overall performance should be also but one a full test will allow to learn more about the potential of the smartphone. 

BlackBerry KEYone – sound quality

the KEYOne offer stereo speakers. Alas, the noisy conditions under which I performed my grip has not allowed me to do a precise idea of the qualities of the smartphone in this area. A complete (and quiet) test will tell us more. (

BlackBerry KEYone – camera

side picture, the KEYOne BlackBerry offers a 12 megapixel (Sony IMX378 sensor) with an f/2.0 aperture main camera). No optical stabilization is present. The front camera offers a resolution of 8 megapixels.

Is that what this is enough to take photos and videos of quality? This will be seen during our final test.

AndroidPIT BlackBerry KEYone camera 7
12 megapixels and opening F/2.0. © AndroidPIT

BlackBerry KEYone – autonomy

difficult to evaluate the battery life of a smartphone after only a few minutes of use. However, the BlackBerry KEYOne has a built-in 3505 mAh battery that looks promising. She is capable of is charer to 50% in 36 minutes thanks to Quick Charge 3.0. Coupled with the Nougat Doze mode, the smartphone should be widely more than a day. The final test will give us my verdict.

first verdict

no, BlackBerry is not dead. The KEYOne proves (at least through its partnership with TCL). The phone whose slogan is “Distinctly Different” (different Distintement) stands in fact of many of its competitors because of its physical keyboard. Clearly, the smartphone is promising (special mentions to the fingerprint reader and the presence of Android Nougat) and, despite a few flaws as the quality of finishes, it can appeal to a professional audience who put on productivity

Samsung, Apple and others do not have necessarily to be worried for the time being, but people allergic to the virtual keyboard for smartphones will be satisfied to see that BlackBerry is always present on the market of smartphones…

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