After the successful announcement of BlackBerry KEYone early this year, BlackBerry Mobile released the Black Edition at IFA 2017. This time, there was no delay in making it available in Singapore. It’s October, and it’s already here. The classy look of the Black Edition embodies the understated design that executives prefer over the contemporary silver edition.
While its global smartphone market share is statistically non-existent, BlackBerry continues to garner a loyal following. Indeed, there are unique features that only a BlackBerry can offer. For the nostalgic, BlackBerry KEYone has the familiar chiclet keyboard that fans love. But it does more than just typing. The KEYone physical keyboard is laden with capacitive sensors that allow gestures as an input. It is a trackpad, like a laptop, where you can glide your fingers to scroll the screen in all directions. It supports swipe input, like Swiftkey, so you can opt not to press on them at all to input text. It is also a library of shortcut buttons – 52 to be exact – which you can program for every alphabet, and with both the short press and long press. Having said that, it is questionable whether consumers will see better benefits in using a physical keyboard after years of on-screen keyboard developments.
Another key (pun unintended) feature like all BlackBerry units is security. The KEYone is touted as the world’s most secure Android smartphone, with security embedded into the hardware while the DTEK app allows you to catch apps that are accessing your info without authorization. You can set alerts when any app is using a particular hardware, for instance, microphone, and I find that very useful to track how many times an app like Telegram is accessing my contacts on a single day, even though it could be a legitimate process. It definitely empowers the user to watch over their smartphones for unusual activities.
The KEYone further adds to the familiarity with the use of Android OS. Installed with Android 7.1.1 out of the box, users will enjoy all the apps on Google Play Store. The near-stock UI build reduces the bloat, except for the BlackBerry apps that are practically essential to drive productivity. So instead of checking messages and notifications on a separate email, SMS, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so on, the BlackBerry Hub aggregates everything to a single chronological interface where you can conveniently take action.
The Blackberry KEYone is well-designed, Android smartphone with a difference: it sports a physical keyboard that offers additional capabilities to make it current for the savvy users of today, balanced with a nostalgia that BlackBerry users will appreciate. Enjoy while it lasts, for it could well be the last keyboard smartphone ever made.