BlackBerry KEYone review: Make or break

Make or break

GSMArena Team, 29 May 2017.

File managing is hard

There is no default file manager app which might complicate things (though, iOS seems to be doing just fine without one). Luckily, there are several file managers that are readily accessible from the Play Store. Still, a proper file manager is needed in a smartphone such as this one that might get cluttered with email attachments, PDFs and power point presentations.

At least there is some form of universal search which BlackBerry calls "Device search". Although this feature is not enabled by default, if may serve more useful than keyboard shortcuts to some. This could be the easiest way to find anything like a contact, an email, or that app you may not feel like digging for. Just start typing away and you'll be able to search among many categories of things on your device.

Enabling and performing a device search - Blackberry Keyone review Enabling and performing a device search - Blackberry Keyone review Enabling and performing a device search - Blackberry Keyone review
Enabling and performing a device search

You can still use long-press key shortcuts with Device Search enabled. This cuts down the number of usable shortcuts by about half, though you gain a very useful tool. If you don't want to cut this many usable shortcuts, you can always put the Device Search app on your home screen and access it that way.

Everything Device Search looks through - Blackberry Keyone review Everything Device Search looks through - Blackberry Keyone review
Everything Device Search looks through

FM Radio

The KEYone is equipped with a built-in FM radio. As usual, a pair of headphones needs to be plugged into the jack for signal. Once plugged in, you can scan for local channels, edit their names, and you can toggle audio output between the loudspeaker and the connected earphones.

Scanning for stations - Blackberry Keyone review channel list - Blackberry Keyone review tuner view - Blackberry Keyone review
Scanning for stations • channel list • tuner view

If you find the Radio's interface too simple, you can always install a third-party FM tuner. There's about a handful of these that you can download from the Play Store.

Google is the standard for photos and video

Google Photos is the default photo viewer on this device and it offers plenty of functionality like free and unlimited online storage with Google Photos. There's also an extensive photo editing tool that lets you crop, rotate, adjust various levels, and offers filters you can slap onto your photos.

Google Photos: Assistant - Blackberry Keyone review Google Photos: Photos - Blackberry Keyone review Google Photos: Albums - Blackberry Keyone review Google Photos: Menu - Blackberry Keyone review
Google Photos: Assistant • Photos • Albums • Menu

You can tap the drop-down arrow for even more adjustment sliders.

Editing an image on Google Photos - Blackberry Keyone review Editing an image on Google Photos - Blackberry Keyone review Editing an image on Google Photos - Blackberry Keyone review Editing an image on Google Photos - Blackberry Keyone review
Editing an image on Google Photos

You can also use Google Photos to create collages, make gifs out of multiple photos, or generate a video clip. You can also share a large number of photos with a link. This would require that your photos are uploaded to a cloud-based album by using your Gmail account.

Selecting multiple photos - Blackberry Keyone review Sharing options - Blackberry Keyone review 'Create new...' - Blackberry Keyone review
Selecting multiple photos • Sharing options • 'Create new...'

Video playback

The default video player is the one that's baked deep into Google Photos and there's nothing special about it. It will play videos, and will let you skip forward or back a video. You can also "Share" the video and toggle a "loop video" option.

Video player - Blackberry Keyone review Video player - Blackberry Keyone review
Video player

Many third-party video players on the Play Store offer additional functionality including aspect ratio crop zooming (which you'll want with this 3:2 display), subtitles, swipe-to-seek, and some even offer pop-out players.

Pre-allocated storage

The KEYone comes with 32GB of internal storage and that is expandable via a microSD card slot on the SIM tray.

The KEYone's usable storage out of the box calculates to about 21.4 GB. Thankfully, you'll be able to store photos and videos taken with the camera on either an external microSD or using Google Photo's unlimited cloud storage option.

Internal storage usage - Blackberry Keyone review Internal storage usage - Blackberry Keyone review
Internal storage usage

There are a bunch of pre-installed apps, though, none of them are entirely useless. The storage taken up by them isn't very much compared to other phones we've reviewed in the past with gobs of useless bloatware. Our unit is unlocked, therefore its bloatware is at a minimum. So we sure hope Sprint doesn't go ham with the carrier bloatware.

Solid audio quality

The BlackBerry KEYone did splendidly in the first part of our audio test. When hooked to an active external amplifier it delivered very loud and yet perfectly accurate output.

Plugging in a pair of headphones damaged the stereo quality a moderate amount, but caused no other distortion whatsoever. The output is still nicely loud and it’s overall a pretty great performance.

TestFrequency responseNoise levelDynamic rangeTHDIMD + NoiseStereo crosstalk
BlackBerry KEYone+0.06, -0.04-92.292.60.00610.0084-96.4
BlackBerry KEYone (headphones attached)+0.06, -0.05-92.888.80.0130.053-47.2
Samsung Galaxy S8+0.04, -0.00-92.592.50.00160.0072-92.8
Samsung Galaxy S8 (headphones attached)+0.03, -0.03-92.392.30.00560.060-77.2
Sony Xperia XZs+0.01, -0.02-93.593.30.00420.0092-92.7
Sony Xperia XZs (headphones attached)+0.12, -0.32-92.693.20.00720.219-67.0
LG G6+0.01, -0.02-93.393.30.00590.0095-94.4
LG G6 (headphones attached)+0.01, -0.02-93.493.40.00670.020-56.3
Huawei P10+0.01, -0.04-93.094.80.00190.0080-93.5
Huawei P10 (headphones attached)+0.25, -0.02-92.793.00.1920.175-59.5
Apple iPhone 7+0.06, -0.10-92.492.30.00150.0093-80.9
Apple iPhone 7 (headphones attached)+0.03, -0.11-92.392.30.00110.012-77.0

BlackBerry KEYone frequency response
BlackBerry KEYone frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Reader comments

  • lis

is the messenger active?

Why didn't this phone got any OS update? Any specific reason?

Give it a try to migrate all contacts into the BBHub account.