Have BlackBerry just launched the best mobile handset for the demanding social media user, digital influencer and blogger? Is the KEYone the socialites’ IT Girl’s new handset?
The other day I had a chance to get my hands on the new BlackBerry, the KEYone, at the UK launch event at Selfridges. It was only a little while I had to test a handset, as we were enjoying breakfast and waiting for the speeches of the official launch, but it gave me enough time to gleen a first impression and judge whether I’m buying it as my next phone.
As a blogger and intensive social media user I was impressed with what I experienced:
The KEYone’s build
The phone has a metal case with a rubbery, leathery backpanel, which made it feel secure in my hand. With relatively small hands the phone didn’t feel it was going to slip out very easily.
The handset felt robust and well built. No waterproofing, due to the keyboard, but that’s no different than my current devices.
The KEYone’s keyboard
Having never had a BlackBerry before exactly because of the keyboard- , as I always felt the keyboard took up too much space and the screen was too small,- the KEYone is different.
The KEYone creates a good balance: the physical keyboard is significantly smaller than what the virtual keyboard takes up of the screen. If you are like me you are typing away more than half the time, this is a bonus.
The keyboard is actually a revelation: it’s a touch pad, a fingerprint sensor, cursor and allows for setting up 52 shortcuts(!) depending on whether you short press or long press a key. Now that is great for productivity! WhatsApp- long W, Weather app- short W, Skype- long S, etc…
The KEYone’s camera
The camera was one of the first things I played with on the demo handsets. It’s a 12MP camera with a Sony sensor. The pictures seemed good, certainly good enough for Twitter and Facebook. Adjusting exposure and other settings was incredibly easy, as was sharing.
I’d like to spend more time testing this give a final verdict.
The KEYone’s operating system
The KEYone comes with the latest Android OS, with it all the the apps in the Play Store. What BlackBerry also brings, though, is built-in security that is encrypted at chip level. It’s not something lots of us give thought to when choosing a phone, but I think it’s becoming increasingly important; we store so much on our handsets, our whole lives, passwords are on the devices. How easy is it really for someone to hack it and take our identity?
From a practical productivity point of view, the biggest revelation for me was the potential of the single messaging centre: I use email, SMS, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, get the occasional twitter DMs…keeping up means flicking across. BlackBerry pulls all these into one hub. It’s a feature I really liked on my windows phone, but never got developed to its full potential really there. I think this is a great feature on the KEYone.
The KEYone’s battery
Apparently the BlackBerry KEYone has a large 3500mA battery which apparently charges super fast as well- 50% charge in a little over 30 minutes. I wasn’t able to test this feature. If true the new KEYone has the potential to be a perfect handset for demanding consumers like bloggers, digital influencers and those wanting to stay actively connected and interacting while on the go all day. …like busy mums and dads? None of my handsets, thus far, have managed to keep up with me on a day out, when I’m sharing about the occassion and interacting with friends and followers. (I wonder if my nifty little spare battery pack I got for Mothers’ Day will become redundant?)
The KEYone’s price
The KEYone retails at £499 bought outright SIM free. that’s just £21 a month over the average 24 months a contract would last. I think for the specs that’s not bad.
The handset launched exclusively at Selfridges, but is rolled out to other outlets over the coming weeks and months.
Verdict based on first impressions
My first impressions of the BlackBerry KEYone were excellent.
The build, the keyboard and functionality all seem to be winners for me. The security is a big bonus. The price is reasonable for a high-end handset.
Ultimately, my decision on whether to buy this handset, as I am actively searching for one, will come down to the camera reviews- is it good enough for Instagram pictures?- and the battery life – will it really hold up a full day with my use of social live updates?