Using a BlackBerry in 2019

I use a phone with a QWERTY keyboard. In this day and age.
I get a variety of reactions when I pull out my phone in public (mostly pity for being poor, I guess)
Which phone is that? When was it released? Keypads are in the past now!
Is that a BlackBerry? Didn’t they die out long ago?

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Photo by Saurav Kulkarni https://www.instagram.com/saur_123/

Yes, it is a BlackBerry and they still make excellent phones. I have a BlackBerry KeyOne Black edition which was released in 2017 and it is runs Android.
Did I mention it’s a wonderful phone?

Have you noticed how similar all brands of phones look these days? It’s like they are all black slabs of glass with varying sizes. It’s gotten boring that nothing different is seen in this tech space. This is where a BlackBerry phone stands out from the crowd.

The whole point of getting a BlackBerry in this day and age is for one and only one reason: the physical keyboard. No other brand makes a phone like this. For a similar price, you can find more powerful phones running Android. That being said, it is a combination of a few factors that make buying a BlackBerry very compelling.

Productivity

The form factor of the KeyOne encourages productivity and discourages media consumption and gaming. Since I started using this phone, I find myself wanting to type more- a lot of writing and texting and much less of gaming, social media and video watching.  I love the feel of these tactile buttons. The first QWERTY phone I used was my Dad’s BlackBerry Curve and the first QWERTY  phone I owned was the Samsung Corby Plus (which was a touch and type phone with a slider keyboard). I feel like with modern phones, the death of the physical keyboard has contributed greatly to getting us addicted to social media instead of using the phone for what it is meant to be: a communications device.

A cool thing is, I can now multitask in peace because the on-screen keyboard won’t cover the bottom half of  the screen!

Gaming and Media

Disclaimer: I’m not a hardcore gamer. I play games rarely. I play on Blackberry very rarely. The main appeal of the KeyOne is the physical keyboard. Naturally, many people wonder how well it functions as a gaming device. Can the buttons be useful for emulation? Does the keyboard come in the way of touchscreen gaming?

The KeyOne is a fairly powerful device. It handles games very well. Keep in mind, my previous phone was the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 which I bought in the December of 2015 and I still use it as a secondary device. Mainly for gaming. So that is what I am comparing to.

That being said, the KeyOne is NOT a device you should consider if gaming and video streaming are very important to you. The keyboard will be a hindrance to both these uses.

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Photo by Saurav Kulkarni https://www.instagram.com/saur_123/

I have exactly one game on my BlackBerry: BombSquad (which is an excellent game to play local multiplayer). The screen is smaller than other phones and the keyboard is a bit of a hindrance because I have to stretch my fingers farther up. But I only ever play once a month or so. Not a big deal of gaming to miss out on.

At first, I thought the keys are awesome for emulation gaming. They are alright. I worry that I’ll wear out the individual keys by gaming and then render the phone useless for what I intended to do in the first place: Writing.

I wanted to see if Pokemon on Drastic would run well and it does. I wanted to see if the input of swiping the keyboard could be made to function as the directional keys but it doesn’t work that way.

That being said, I would totally recommend playing RPGs on the KeyOne. Just remap the buttons to some other key once in a while if you are paranoid like me about the keys getting worn out.

Watching videos is strange due to the small screen, the black bars on the top and bottom and the keyboard on one side. I see this as a positive sign that makes me not want to watch videos and memes endlessly.

Keyboard Shortcuts and Convenience Key

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Photo by Saurav Kulkarni https://www.instagram.com/saur_123/

Every button on the phone can be used as a shortcut to any app twice-  With short press and long press. That means you can launch 52 apps with a jiffy! Those keys can also perform app-specific functions like call a specific number, turn on the torch or start recording audio. Oh, and another cool part is the convenience key on the side. It can launch apps and perform app-specific functions too. I have mapped my convenience key to launch an app that pulls down my notification window. Makes it much more ‘convenient’ than reaching all the way up to pull down notifications.

Excellent Battery Life

The KeyOne can easily go a full day working on full power, two days on moderate use. This is because although it has a battery capacity comparable to other phones, the processor is fairly energy efficient and holds charge longer. It also charges faster, thanks to the fast charging technology from the USB-C charger.

Premium Business Phone Feel

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Photo by Saurav Kulkarni https://www.instagram.com/saur_123/

The rubberized back and the smooth metal edges give it a premium look and it feels great in hand.

Other Features

You can drag your finger on the capacitive keyboard to scroll on almost all apps. Also drag back while typing to delete a full word at  a time. The security is really top notch but I don’t care much about the capacitive keyboard. A nice feature to have. The cameras (both front and back) are good enough and get the job done. Nothing great; you buy a BlackBerry for the keyboard, not the camera.

Older BlackBerry Phones

Before buying, I was researching for a phone with a physical keyboard and I saw many people recommending the two older phones: BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Priv. Almost everyone claims that Passport has the best keyboard ever and that tempted me to get one. What so many reviewers do is that they buy the passport and praise its square design and the superior keyboard. All that seems reasonable yeah, I might have considered a passport if it could run modern apps but it doesn’t! And these reviewers carry that passport in addition to a flagship device for other things! Jeez! Nobody has that kind of wealth to blow. So for all practical purposes, you’ll need a fully functioning Android device. The Priv has a slider keyboard but many users complained of sluggish performance and battery draining issues so I went with the KeyOne.

Newer BlackBerry Phones

The KeyOne is the perfect blend of modern smartphone features, everyday apps and the physical keyboard. The newer KeyTwo is better in many ways but the KeyOne is all I could afford (barely). The price is problematic on these phones. I wish it was priced for ₹20,000 instead of the ₹33,000 I paid (discounted) but considering that no other phones have a physical keyboard, I can’t complain.

Another option is the new KeyTwoLE- the light edition of KeyTwo. I would highly recommend getting the KeyOne Bronze edition or the KeyTwo LE to anyone interested in a good phone that rocks a physical keyboard.

Click on these images to check out the KeyOne and KeyTwo. Any purchases you make, Amazon will pay me a tiny percentage of the earnings.

BlackBerry KeyOne Bronze Edition51uOX410-fL._SL1000_

BlackBerry KeyTwo

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