Day One with the BlackBerry KEYone

I got quite a surprise yesterday. I got a KEYone.

Yesterday, a package showed up that I wasn’t expecting. In that package was a BlackBerry Mobile KEYone. Let’s just say I was extremely surprised. I had decided to pass on this phone. Not because I didn’t want one. Of course I wanted one. But I’ve bought quite a few phones since I started this little UTB hobby of mine. I’ve bought a Z10, a Q5, a Passport, a Classic, a Leap, and a Priv. And I’m somebody that had always kept my phone for a good two years. I decided it was time to slow down. It wasn’t too difficult when the DTEK’s came out. After all, those are all touch phones, and I’m a keyboard guy. But when the KEYone arrived, it was extremely difficult. I wrestled with myself for a while, wanting to get it, telling myself not to. Well, my air conditioner made that decision for me. It decided to die, and with the temps hanging over 110 f, replacing that is a bit of an expensive necessity, and I just can’t justify what is truly an extra phone.

Let’s just say I’m an exceptionally lucky guy. Apparently, the fine folks behind UTB pitched in and sent me a KEYone. I have no idea what got in to them, and I really feel rather odd accepting the phone, but wow, once this thing was in my hand, I wasn’t going to let it go. Can I just say how great a bunch the UTB crew is? They’re an amazing group of people. Yes, even Wayno.

So, today was my first day with the BlackBerry KEYone. And I was shocked.

This is by no means a review, I haven’t had enough time to really be able to make a real review. But there are already a few things I can comment on.

Design

This phone feels like it was designed specifically for me. And I know I’m not the only one that feels that way. I love the physical keyboard BlackBerrys. I always have. The classic candy bar BlackBerry design that we last saw in, of course, the Classic, has always had a drawback. That drawback was the screen size. We were relegated to a very small screen, which was perfectly fine back in the days of the BBOS Curves and Bolds, but once the competitor’s devices turned into slab phone pocket arcades, we began to notice what we were missing. The Passport made up for that with it’s large square screen that gave us the ability to “work wide” and it was amazing. The Passport SE arrived taking that striking Passport form factor to the next level, by adding a very classy industrial look, making in my opinion, the best looking phone I had ever seen. But even that came with a certain drawback. One of it’s greatest strengths was also it’s greatest drawback. The abilities we gained with the “work wide” screen also ensured that this was a two handed device. Now, I was one of those that would have never complained about that, because what we gained was greater than what we lost, but I do know some people used that two handed use as a reason not to purchase a Passport.

The KEYone brings the best of all these worlds together.  It is that classic candy bar phone, except this time the screen is not too small. It’s just right. Large enough to be able to watch videos and play games, yet not so large that it seems off balance. The keyboard isn’t as large as the Passport, nothing is, and in all honesty, I’m glad. Going to the Passport was difficult. It took a couple of weeks for me to get used to it, and comfortable typing on it. After the Passport I had a Classic and a Priv, it took minutes to get used to typing on the classic four row BlackBerry keyboard again. And while the keyboard of the Classic, Priv, and KEYone, are smaller than the Passport, they are absolutely huge compared to the BBOS devices we all loved from before. And this keyboard is great. Better than the Priv, but in all honesty, I still stand by my opinion that the Classic has the best keyboard ever produced on a BlackBerry. One handed use is an absolute breeze on the KEYone. It’s light compared to my Priv, yet has enough weight that it feels like how I want a phone to feel. It’s actually a fair amount lighter than the Priv, and is just about the same thickness, yet doesn’t feel too thin like the Priv does to me. And, this is important, it has the same classy industrial design as the Passport SE. In short, I think the KEYone is now the best looking phone I have ever seen. It’s beautiful, and feels as good in the hand as it looks.

UI and OS

Well, by now I am used to Marshmallow on the Priv. I wasn’t expecting a huge difference with Nougat, and so far I have seen exactly what I expected. There are definitely some differences but nothing earth shattering, at least nothing I’ve seen so far in my one day of use. Notifications look a bit different, and there is one surprise all BB10 users will love. The ability to quick reply to BBM’s. Now, it just feels more like BB10. Quite honestly, the whole phone just feels more like a BlackBerry experience than the Priv, yet I haven’t really been able to figure out if this is based on design differences or UI differences. I haven’t even begun to dive into all the menu’s on this phone, and I’ll let you know as I do, but as of yet, I can say it’s a better experience than the Priv. I’m just honestly not sure why I feel that way yet.

Battery

For what is essentially a first impressions post, I wasn’t planning to get into any specific details besides overall look and feel of the device, but I can’t not mention the battery. This phone is incredible.

First of all, I’m really bad on batteries, and that’s not a good thing. We have a friend that is extremely proud of his ability to run through a battery quickly. I’m not proud of it. I hate it. I want a phone that lasts, and yet, I’ve never managed to get the battery life others do out of their BlackBerry phones. I always turn off adaptive brightness on my phones. I hate it. I can’t stand seeing a phone screen dim as I’m looking at it. I also keep my phone screen bright. Why would anyone want to look at a dim screen? I also set my screen to time out after a minute or two, depending on what options are available. I hate reading something and having the screen turn off on me. Add to that, my screen on time is really excessive, and I always have a wearable attached through Bluetooth and stream a lot of podcasts through Bluetooth headphones. Needless to say, I’m not a good example of proper battery management. In fact I’m a really bad example.

The BlackBerry Passport was a known beast when it came to the battery. I was never able to get a full 8 hour day out of my Passport. Every lunch break, would be spent topping off my battery for the full hour, just to get my Passport to last me until the end of my shift. Once the shift was over, my Passport was back on the charger. This is saying nothing bad about the Passport, I saw plenty of people getting two days use out of Passports, but the way I use my phone, I never saw that type of longevity. I honestly expected the same type of experience with the KEYone. Boy was I surprised.

I made sure to take my charger with me when I left my house today. I knew I would be charging the phone on my lunch break. It wasn’t even a question. I was just anxious to see how much battery I had left at that time. But when I went to lunch, I still had 71% left of my battery! So, I didn’t charge. And I spent my entire hour long lunch break playing on my new phone. Come on, you know you would have too. Today, with a massive amount of playing with my phone, still setting up accounts, and exploring the device, I got 14 hours out of my device when I hit 15% and finally plugged the phone in to a charger. 14 hours of what I would consider heavy use even for me! 14 hours for the guy that never got 8 hours out of a Passport!

After completing day one with the KEYone, all I can say is wow! This phone is amazing.

And to our UTB crew, thank you.

Brad

Founder & Owner of UTB Blogs. Former BlackBerry Elite. When I'm not talking or writing about BlackBerry, you'll find me using my BlackBerry.

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