Over the previous seven years, BlackBerry’s market share has slipped away, misplaced to Apple and Android. The corporate made a number of makes an attempt to revive its personal fortunes, from its oft-delayed BB 10 working system to gadgets just like the Z10 and Passport. Nothing caught, together with the corporate’s first try to mix a keyboard and the Android working system, the BlackBerry Priv.

Final week, evaluations began to roll in on a brand new BlackBerry system, albeit one marketed, manufactured, and distributed by TCL fairly than by BlackBerry itself. It’s the final smartphone BlackBerry intends to design by itself, and in line with all of the evaluations we’ve seen thus far, it’s a surprisingly wonderful system. Engadget, PCMag, and The Verge have all printed evaluations of the brand new BlackBerry KeyOne they usually’re collectively the very best we’ve seen on a BlackBerry product in years.

Earlier than we dive into the evaluations, we’ll hit the essential specs. The KeyOne runs Android Nougat 7.1.1 and makes use of a Snapdragon 625 SoC. That’s an eight-core CPU clocked at 2GHz (all eight cores are based mostly on the Cortex-A53). Efficiency when working single-threaded code is not going to be significantly robust, for the reason that Cortex-A53 is meant for low energy consumption, however eight cores ought to give it cheap juice with multithreaded code. The KeyOne has 3GB of RAM, a 3505mAh battery, a 12MP again digital camera able to 4K seize with digital picture stabilization, and an 8MP, 1080p entrance digital camera. It gives 32GB of storage and could be expanded with as much as 2TB from a microSD card, if and when such voluminous capacities change into obtainable.

Because the title and images indicate, the KeyOne additionally includes a bodily keyboard — BlackBerry’s final farewell to the stalwart followers which have caught by the corporate by way of thick and skinny. In accordance with all three websites, the KeyOne feels extra like a BlackBerry than any of the DTEK rebrands it launched final 12 months. Everybody complimented the match and end of the system and in contrast it positively with the Priv, whose type issue and total measurement profile weren’t well-regarded (that’s the opinion of the varied reviewers, not myself). PCMag notes that the bodily keyboard is “stuffed with cool methods,” with a fingerprint scanner constructed into the spacebar and the flexibility to assign shortcuts to customized keys. The speaker and earpiece audio high quality additionally obtained high marks, and the KeyOne helps Bluetooth four.2, probably the most present model of the usual.


The KeyOne keyboard. Photograph by PCMag.

The Verge describes the match and end of the KeyOne as being “superb,” with satisfying response from the keyboard and buttons, and a rubberized end on the again that makes it straightforward to carry the system. If you happen to’ve ever used a smartphone with an oleophobic coating, it will possibly really feel just like the cellphone is actively making an attempt to fling itself out of your grasp to smash on the ground. The KeyOne has no such issues. The comparatively small four.5-inch show is a 1620×1080 panel with a three:2 side ratio, and evaluations listed here are blended. The Verge discovered the square-ish show to be constricting in lots of circumstances, although they famous that it labored effectively for electronic mail; Engadget reported no such issues.


The BlackBerry hub. Photograph by Engadget

The KeyOne doesn’t ship with inventory Android, however Engadget thought that the custom-made Android interface was “principally useful,” although there are some points with clearing notifications from the BlackBerry Hub and programming the comfort button. General efficiency was modest in testing — this isn’t a smartphone to purchase in case you care about gaming — however the Snapdragon 625 SoC pairs with the 3505mAh battery to supply wonderful battery life. PCMag experiences 1.5 days with common utilization, The Verge notes that the majority customers can get two (whereas the creator’s heavy utilization resulted in him getting simply someday), Engadget reported a simple day with heavy use, and as much as two days if the system is used rigorously. No matter private wants, all three evaluations are fairly complimentary about battery life.

The Verdict

All three evaluations additionally wind up in roughly the identical place: The BlackBerry KeyOne is a good productiveness system. If you happen to’re a BlackBerry keyboard die-hard who hasn’t moved to a touch-screen cellphone (or want to transfer again), this cellphone was made for you. Bear in mind, nevertheless, that the cellphone’s three:2 show ratio, decision, and specs are all designed to ship the sort of productiveness that made BlackBerry gadgets a legend. If you happen to’re wanting on the KeyOne as a typical Apple or Samsung person, it’s possible you’ll not discover the bodily keyboard or sq. display screen ratio a lot to your liking.

With a $550 MSRP, the KeyOne isn’t low-cost. However BlackBerry has delivered a stable swan track for its personal growth staff. If you happen to’ve lengthy hoped the corporate would ship one final stable product earlier than its designers exited stage left, your persistence has been rewarded.