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 units 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 machine, albeit one marketed, manufactured, and distributed by TCL relatively than by BlackBerry itself. It’s the final smartphone BlackBerry intends to design by itself, and based on all of the evaluations we’ve seen to this point, it’s a surprisingly wonderful machine. Engadget, PCMag, and The Verge have all printed evaluations of the brand new BlackBerry KeyOne they usually’re collectively one of the best we’ve seen on a BlackBerry product in years.

Earlier than we dive into the evaluations, we’ll hit the fundamental 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 primarily based on the Cortex-A53). Efficiency when working single-threaded code won’t be significantly robust, for the reason that Cortex-A53 is meant for low energy consumption, however eight cores ought to give it affordable juice with multithreaded code. The KeyOne has 3GB of RAM, a 3505mAh battery, a 12MP again digicam able to 4K seize with digital picture stabilization, and an 8MP, 1080p entrance digicam. It presents 32GB of storage and will be expanded with as much as 2TB from a microSD card, if and when such voluminous capacities turn into accessible.

Because the identify and photographs suggest, the KeyOne additionally contains a bodily keyboard — BlackBerry’s final farewell to the stalwart followers which have caught by the corporate by means 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 yr. Everybody complimented the match and end of the machine and in contrast it positively with the Priv, whose kind issue and general dimension profile weren’t well-regarded (that’s the opinion of the assorted reviewers, not myself). PCMag notes that the bodily keyboard is “stuffed with cool tips,” with a fingerprint scanner constructed into the spacebar and the power to assign shortcuts to customized keys. The speaker and earpiece audio high quality additionally received high marks, and the KeyOne helps Bluetooth four.2, essentially the most present model of the usual.


The KeyOne keyboard. Picture 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 machine. In the event you’ve ever used a smartphone with an oleophobic coating, it might 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 below are blended. The Verge discovered the square-ish show to be constricting in lots of instances, although they famous that it labored effectively for electronic mail; Engadget reported no such issues.


The BlackBerry hub. Picture by Engadget

The KeyOne doesn’t ship with inventory Android, however Engadget thought that the custom-made Android interface was “largely 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 should you care about gaming — however the Snapdragon 625 SoC pairs with the 3505mAh battery to supply wonderful battery life. PCMag reviews 1.5 days with common utilization, The Verge notes that almost all customers can get two (whereas the creator’s heavy utilization resulted in him getting simply someday), Engadget reported a straightforward day with heavy use, and as much as two days if the machine 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 superb productiveness machine. In the event you’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. Have in mind, nonetheless, that the cellphone’s three:2 show ratio, decision, and specs are all designed to ship the form of productiveness that made BlackBerry units a legend. In the event you’re trying on the KeyOne as a typical Apple or Samsung consumer, you might not discover the bodily keyboard or sq. display ratio a lot to your liking.

With a $550 MSRP, the KeyOne isn’t low cost. However BlackBerry has delivered a strong swan music for its personal growth workforce. In the event you’ve lengthy hoped the corporate would ship one final strong product earlier than its designers exited stage left, your persistence has been rewarded.