I was a teenager when I first got my hands on a BlackBerry phone. It was a BlackBerry Curve, a hand-me-down from my dad of course, and I loved it. It was sleek, it was sexy, and most importantly, it was in. Most of my friends had one model or another, and BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, was all the rage. After a futile attempt at battling Android however, BlackBerry slipped into irrelevancy. That is, until the release of the KEYone, which is manufactured by Chinese tech titans TCL Corporation. I’m going to be frank and say it is not the best smartphone on the market right now. However, I love this phone for what it is. In a market where smartphones are created from similar moulds, the KEYone dares to be different. It has a physical keyboard, because it can. I like to think of it as a middle finger to the bigger boys. So without rambling on too much here are 4 reasons you may want to consider getting the BlackBerry KEYone.
I’m a very tactile person, so the way a phone feels in my hand holds quite a bit of importance. The KEYone Black Edition, which I am reviewing, has a sturdy aluminium frame with a sleek matte black finish. It has a soft textured back that almost feels like leather. Combined with its weight, this gives the KEYone a luxurious feel. The textured back also prevents the phone from getting cold and uncomfortable in your hands, unlike certain phones that have metal backs. Like I mentioned, it comes with a physical keyboard, so if you enjoyed this on your older BlackBerry phones, you’re going to enjoy this. I do find it a little slower to type with so I turn on the on-screen keyboard instead. The spacebar on the keyboard also serves as a fingerprint scanner.
2) BlackBerry Hub
Let’s face it. These days we have an account for everything. Email, social media, shopping, messaging etc.. Why BlackBerry Hub is such a brilliant app is it consolidates all those notifications in one place. Let’s say you go into a meeting and listen to your boss drone on for a couple of hours about hitting this quarter’s numbers. When you get out, instead of clicking on your Facebook, WhatsApp, Gmail, and Outlook apps to check your notifications, you just need hit BlackBerry Hub. From calls to LinkedIn, this convenient app will surely increase your productivity.
3) 3.5mm Jack
I still find it hard to believe that this makes for a convincing selling point, but the KEYone has a 3.5mm jack. No converters, no adaptors. Just plug in and play. While I really loved the Google Pixel 2 XL, I was sorely disappointed that it doesn’t come with a 3.5mm jack. While reviewing the phone on a roadtrip in Thailand, I forgot to bring the adaptor, so I was stuck listening to the driver’s music for over 3 hours. You won’t run into a complication like that with the KEYone. The next generation of this phone might not have it, looking at the current market trends, but for now, I’m enjoying it.
4) Convenience Key and Shortcuts
One of the biggest plus points with the KEYone is how much it increases productivity. The phone comes with a convenience key on the right side of the phone that you can programme to perform certain actions. From composing emails to opening apps, the convenience key can help you perform all sorts of tasks with the touch of one button. I suggest avoid tagging it to speed dials. I’ve had a number of butt-dialing incidents. You can also program any key on the keyboard to perform shortcuts. For example, if you’re constantly using Facebook, you can program the phone to open the app with a quick tap of the “F” key.
Look, if you’re in the market for an android smartphone there are a few better ones out there, for sure. If you are a BlackBerry fan who’s looking to rekindle that flame, however, I think you’re going to be satisfied with the KEYone. It runs Android 7.1, takes decent pictures, is great for productivity, so overall, it’s a viable option, as smartphones go. I’m just not sure it’s worth $858.