BlackBerry KEYone review: Plans | Pricing | Specs

Quick Verdict

If you're a long-term BlackBerry fan and can deal with that slightly slick keyboard feel, you'll be right at home with the KEYone.

The good

  • Great battery life
  • Clever keyboard
  • Inbuilt enterprise-grade security
  • Information focus

The bad

  • Uneven performance for its price
  • Camera is only good, not great
  • Small display

BlackBerry KEYone at a glance
When did the BlackBerry KEYone come out? July 2017
What’s new about the BlackBerry KEYone? Physical keyboard, USB C charging, Android 7.1
How much does the BlackBerry KEYone cost? The BlackBerry KEYone retails for $899 outright

The KEYone is the best BlackBerry in years, but the market for it is still quite niche.

I've been writing about phones for long enough that I can still well and truly remember when BlackBerry was the undeniable king of the hill. BlackBerry handsets were the combined iPhone and Galaxy phones of the day, desirable by many and always interesting. Then smartphones hit the market hard via the iPhone 3G, and it all rather went tumbling downhill for BlackBerry as a handset manufacturer.

In the enterprise space, it retained a niche largely for its impressive security credentials, but for regular consumers, both the desirability and innovation in the BlackBerry handsets being offered rapidly declined.

Yes, there were die-hard BlackBerry fans out there, but relatively few, and that had the effect of also turning developers away from the platform. The late era switch to Android did help a little there, but it wasn't much of a surprise to see BlackBerry itself switch off the production lines for hardware after the disappointing BlackBerry PRIV.

This makes the BlackBerry KEYone a really fascinating concept because it's the first BlackBerry device not manufactured by BlackBerry itself, that task having been outsourced to TCL. TCL's phone heritage lies in the Alcatel brand of phones, typically low-cost devices, and that's not traditionally been the BlackBerry story. The KEYone launched at Mobile World Congress early in 2017, with its local debut in July 2017 at an asking price of $899.

Design

  • Retains the iconic BlackBerry keyboard and businesslike aesthetic
  • Slightly bulky, though the textured back makes it easy to hold

Camera

  • The 12MP rear camera is a significant step up from previous BlackBerry handsets
  • Tends to underexpose shots when using automatic settings

Performance

  • Decent mid-range performance across most apps and tasks
  • Inconsistent support for the physical keyboard leads to interface issues in some apps

Battery life

  • Outlasts many other premium handsets thanks to its smaller screen and mid-range processor
  • Quick Charge 3.0 support allows for fast recharging

Verdict

  • A solid yet predictable successor to BlackBerry phones of yore

Pricing and availability

BlackBerry KEYone

Keyed in

The first BlackBerry handset manufactured by TCL combines the classic BlackBerry design with the modern smartphone features of Android 7.1.

Promoted
  • The BlackBerry KEYone retails for $899, though you can find it cheaper at online retailers like Catch, DWI and Kogan.
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OS Android 7
Display size (inches) 4.5
Display resolution (pixels) 1620 x 1080
Pixels per inch (PPI) 433
Processor Snapdragon 625
Height (mm) 149.3
Width (mm) 72.5
Depth (mm) 9.4
Weight (g) 180
Battery size (mAh) 3,505
Wireless charging No
Internal storage 32GB
MicroSD expansion 256GB
Fingerprint scanner Yes
RAM 3
Water resistance N/A
Rear camera (1) resolution 12
Rear camera (1) aperture f/2.0
Rear camera (2) resolution
Rear camera (2) aperture
Rear camera (3) resolution
Rear camera (3) aperture
Front camera (1) resolution 8
Front camera (1) aperture f/2.2
Front camera (2) resolution
Front camera (2) aperture
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Network category speed N/A
NFC support Yes
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Updated September 19th, 2018
Name Product Processor type Display size Display resolution Internal storage
Snapdragon 625
4.5
1620 x 1080
32GB

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