Alongside news that the Nokia 3310 3G and the Google Pixel 2XL will be available in Singapore very soon, another smartphone brand has been quietly making a comeback, and we’re no stranger to it.
Come October 16, BlackBerry will launch the black edition of its KEYone smartphone which it unveiled earlier this year at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona.
Available at Singtel, StarHub and M1 for S$858 ($632), the KEYone is a fully-Android phone but carries a slightly heftier price tag than what one would expect.
But the crucial question all ex-BB users want answered, is no doubt, whether the new model lives up to its predecessors.
Business Insider got our hands on a review unit to answer that question, and see what the new phone is all about, of course:
Back with its iconic Qwerty keyboard, the BlackBerry KEYone is marketed to be “the most secure Android phone in the world”.
But if you’re like me, with not that many secrets to hide, you’ll be more concerned with its user-friendliness, hardware sophistication and of course, whether typing on the keyboard brings back that nostalgic feeling of what’s like to be a BB-user.
On first glance, the phone looks sleek and professional, especially with its glossy front and matte rubberised textured back.
Despite accounts that the screen has a possibility of falling off, it gave off a sturdy and no-nonsense vibe when I first took it out of the box.
But the raised keyboard (pictured below) holds more secrets than just living up to its BlackBerry name.
Touch-sensitive, the keys respond to swiping gestures so you’ll be able to alternate between home screens with ease.
You’ll also be able to unlock the phone with your fingerprint.
Hidden in plain sight, the scanner is located at the space bar so lightly placing your finger there will unlock the phone.
According to BlackBerry’s sales director Mr Travis Bell, the most important feature is KEYone’s security that’s provided to users.
In response to Business Insider’s queries on whether the phone could be hacked, he claimed that it’s almost impossible because of BB applications such as DTEK.
One example he gave, was of a third-party weather app which can be downloaded off Google Play Store and uses the KEYone’s microphone without seeking permission.
DTEK would notify you about such suspicious activities, so you’ll be able to safeguard your security.
But as mentioned earlier, most ex-BB users would want to know how the new keyboard fares to old-models which are fondly remembered.
Unfortunately, the answer is, not well.
We asked colleagues in our office to try out the new keyboard and all five we asked gave it a thumbs down.
Some said it didn’t have the “comforting feel” the old BB keyboard had, and others complained they were inclined to make more typos with the new keyboard.
Personally, I’m used to the iPhone’s keyboard, so typing on the KEYone took me twice as much time and physical effort, with no help from my sausage fingers.
Also, we noticed the presence of a virtual keyboard. Why BlackBerry thought it was necessary to include 2 keyboards eludes us.
The camera quality seems decent though, but the hardware is nothing impressive.
Not only is it not water-resistant, I was also told that the phone probably won’t survive a steep dive to the ground, should I lose my grip on it.
So if you’re thinking of buying the BB KEYone for it’s features as a smartphone, it will probably serve you well.
Just don’t go expecting it to match up to the memories of your old BlackBerry circa-2000s – it probably won’t live up to your hype.