Does Blackberry’s 2017 flagship deserve your attention

Almost every time Blackberry launches a new device, there’s a palpable excitement. The brand’s loyal legion of fans are almost unaffected by BB’s recent setbacks and cling on to the nostalgia that surrounds the brand’s Qwerty keyboard. Yes, nobody quite cracked the physical keyboard like Blackberry and we’ve been mighty impressed with the build quality of the brand’s recent launches like the Passport. The KEYone is set to prove that the brand is still relevant at a time when the same corporate honchos and road warriors seem to have ditched the BB for iPhones and Android devices. Here’s your low-down on Blackberry’s 2017 flagship:

The build quality is terrific: the phone has premium stamped all over it – the black aluminium frame, soft grip (makes it less prone to drops) and the trademark Blackberry textured back that we loved on devices like the Z10.

Image sample – Anjuna beach, Goa on a cloudy day

The Keyboard is sheer joy for BB fans: yes, the iconic qwerty keyboard is back. Personally, I love the iPhone keyboard. It’s great to get stuff done and dash off those emails. But if you need the reassurance of the physical keyboard, the KEYone is a no-brainer. We also like that each of the 52 keys can be customised as short keys, its quite a task to keep track of all those shortcuts though.

The hardware spec sheet is solid but not best in class: the KEYone is powered by a Qualcomm 625 processor. It’s certainly not in the same league as some of the more powerful processors under the hood of competing devices  but add the 4GB of RAM and 64GB of ROM (plus support for extended memory) and the device chugs along without a fuss.

The KEYone nails the battery: the 3505 mAh battery outperforms most of the competition and will comfortably last over a day even if you push it hard.

Image sample – Humayun’s tomb, Delhi just before sunset

The 4.5-inch display seems like an acceptable compromise: especially if the physical keyboard matters to you. It’s certainly not as engaging to watch videos on this device vis-a-vis the Samsung S8. Blackberry will be quick to point out that the screen size is almost the same as the iPhone 7. Fair point!

The selfie cam is surprisingly good: the 8MP front can shoot ‘wefies’, while we were quite impressed with the 12MP primary shooter.

Blackberry throwback with the Google Play Store: Blackberry’s legacy Apps are integrated into the KEYone. There’s BBM (good luck with finding someone on the other end), Blackberry Hub that cleverly integrates all your conversations in a single window and DTEK that ring-fences the Android Ecosystem in quintessential Blackberry style. Add the Google Play Store and it’s quite a formidable mix.

 

Image sample – Humayun’s tomb just before sunset.

The KEYone is one of the best BBs in a while; it’s elegantly designed and we dig the physical keyboard. It’s certainly not perfect but at Rs 39,990, Blackberry seems to have got the pricing right; something it didnt manage with some of it’s recent flagships.

 

The Blackberry KEYone is available exclusively on Amazon. with special offers on American Express Credit cards. 

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