Review: BlackBerry KeyOne

Ben Woods

If you hanker for the days when your smartphone had a 'proper' keyboard, the BlackBerry KeyOne could be just for you

Hardware, camera and storage
Putting the keyboard aside for a second, there's not a whole lot to shout about in terms of specs or defining features of the KeyOne when you compare it with some of its similarly-priced rivals, or indeed cheaper brands like OnePlus. Sitting above the Qwerty is a 4.5-inch (1,620 x 1,080 pixels) Gorilla Glass 4 display.

While its 3:2 aspect ratio sets it apart from the dimensions of most other handsets, the screen isn't 'best-in-class' by a long shot. That's not to say it's bad, but if you're coming from a more premium device, you'll notice that it's not as bright or colourful as its pricier alternatives.

Nonetheless, it's still perfectly acceptable and bright enough for use in direct sunlight.

alt='BlackBerry KeyOne'

Under-the-bonnet, you get a 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Octa-Core chipset, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and some pretty run of the mill 12-megapixel and 8-megapixel cameras on the back and front, respectively.

That front-facing camera, at 8-megapixels, does offer some potentially handy features like a selfie panorama mode and an 84-degree field of view so you can fit more into your shots. Nonetheless, on paper, the KeyOne isn't blowing anyone away, and that's not really a surprise.

Fortunately, the rear-facing 12-megapixel affair has a Sony IMX378 sensor and takes better photos than its specs suggest. If you give it sufficient light, it'll produce some good images with popping colours. In regular daylight, rather than a bright sunny day, it fares pretty well too, not suffering too much from 'noise' in the images. As you continue to decrease the brightness of your surroundings, that noise ratio goes up though.


Actual image capture isn't quite as snappy as top-of-the-line options, but there's no huge delay either, and if you do happen to be shooting some fast-action footage, there are features like a slo-mo mode that will help compensate. 

The camera options are clearly laid out too, making it simple to switch settings, apply a filter (that you can see previewed live) and jump between manual and automatic mode. 

You can see in the sample images here that colour representation is accurate, and it deals well with shots that have bright and dark patches, but it doesn't deliver the 'pop' and vibrancy of more expensive options. 

While it doesn't have all the bells and whistles and isn't a competitor to a top-of-the-range S8 camera, it's certainly better than any BlackBerry phone I've used before, and costs at least £200 less than that particular class of rival too.

Powering everything along is a large, non-removable 3,505mAh battery.

Next page: The keyboard!

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