Yup, it's here! The phone that was showcased at CES, but wasn't made clear over anything. Back then, the beautiful phone with a physical keyboard didn't even have a name and was called as 'mercury'.
It's real name is now said to be the KEYone. It has caught a lot of obvious attention at MWC, and I'm not surprised! It had to be the hot new thing that everyone wanted a piece of. And these are some initial impressions over it.
The phone is super compact, meant to be used in one hand. It's textured back and rounded edges make for a very comfortable single handed experience.
It's not the slimmest or the lightest thing out there, weighing almost 180 gm. But there's no arguing with the premium feel it gives in your palms or while it's in your pocket.
The power button is on the left side as a TCL trademark and on the right, there's the volume rockers and a convenience key. It's common to mistake it for a power key, because of the obviously confusing placement. But once you get used to it, it's actually quite convenient.
You can launch your desired app or shortcut from the key, or mute calls. Other than that, the physical keyboard also has a ton of shortcuts to be assigned. Long pressing any key would take you to the destination that you programmed. It's awesome!
Speaking of awesome, the space key now holds the fingerprint sensor. It's flanked on either sides by two small LED indicators, which glow while the sensor is active. It works really well, and unlocks your phone almost instantly . Great job, TCL!
It can still be used as a trackpad, to scroll the pages on your screen, and the text predictions can be selected by swiping up in their direction, on the keyboard.
The keys are very tactile and give an excellent typing experience. It's not as awesome as the early BlackBerrys, but it's definitely the closest thing to it.
This great keyboard sits below a 4.5 inch IPS LCD display of 1620x1080 resolution.
Weird resolution, but display is pretty nice. The brightness was great and initial impressions are super positive on the panel here.
It has SD card expandability and also a headphone jack, in case you were wondering!
On the camera department, it uses a 12 mp sensor on the rear, that's essentially the same one which we saw in the Google pixel phones last year. There's also an 8 mp wide angle selfie snapper, for great quality photos. I'll comment more on the camera performance in my full review.
The rear camera is also capable of 4K recording and 1080p on the front camera. There doesn't seem to be any OIS. But let's see if we see another Google-like approach for software stabilization!
Speaking about performance, this phone is a snappy one. These are the specs:
A 2 GHz octacore Snapdragon 625 CPU
3 GB of DDR4 RAM
Adreno 506 for graphics
32 GB of expandable storage
Massive 3500 mAh battery
Near stock Android 7.1 Nougat OS
Even though the specs may seem a bit underwhelming, trust me, there's nothing to be disappointed about. The phone is super fast and a real marathon runner. If you remember, it's a similar spec sheet to the Moto Z play and the ZTE blade V8 pro. Both of those phones were super fast and long lasting ones.
There's also quick charge support via the usb type C standard port. You can get 0-55\\\% in half an hour. If you want faster charging, you can turn on the boost mode, which kills all the background stuff, optionally puts your phone in airplane mode and charges even faster!
BlackBerry announced the price to be somewhere near $550. If you ask me, that's a bit too much for a phone that packs a seemingly mid range specs. The phone is definitely unique and amazing in it's own way. But for that price, you're better off getting the OnePlus 3T, with similar battery and a much beefier processor.
That's not to say the KEYone isn't worth it though. If you're a corporate guy and
want a phone that you can comfortably use and type a lot in one hand, with enhanced, useful features like BlackBerry hub and DTEK security, it's a no brainer! Get one for yourself, you'll be more than happy.
However if you're more of a multimedia user, surely you don't need a physical keyboard. Unless you get an excellent offer/discount on this one, I suggest you sit this one out.