You can create shortcuts so that if you press and hold a key, it will start something up for you.. The space bar has a fingerprint scanner built in for unlocking the phone.
Security has a been a big BlackBerry thing for many years. The phone includes BlackBerry’s DTEK software which adds a layer of protection to the normal security built the Android Nougat 7.1.1 which the phone runs. This runs security scans and gives you a quick security dial to show you how safe your phone is. Furthermore, when the phone starts up or you reboot it, you have to enter your PIN before it will let Android load.
Classic BlackBerry apps are included, including one for the BlackBerry Messaging service, and its take on notes, tasks, calendar and contacts.
In most ways, the BlackBerry KEYone operates as though it were a standard Android phone. Indeed, even though BlackBerry has piled in a bunch of features, including some user interface enhancements, the essential nature of Android Nougat remains unchanged.
Amongst the additions is a swipe-in-from-the-right to access things like mail and contacts from wherever you are. There are the previously mentioned classic BlackBerry apps, now working well in the Android environment. The only confusion in this melding was with me taking a little while to get used to having the Android “Home” button about three centimetres up from the bottom of the phone. I kept hitting the space bar instead, since that’s where the “Home” button would normally be. I have no doubt that I’d soon acclimatise were this to become my main phone.
There’s also an extra key beyond those normally on an Android phone. The power key is on the left side, the volume rocker on the right, and below the volume rocker is a “Convenience Key”. This cn be set to one of four action: open an app, speed dial a number, send a message or open up all the shortcuts.
The keyboard, despite the necessarily small buttons, is surprisingly easy to use. That’s because it has a good rejection system. If your finger overlaps a key and starts pushing an adjacent one the second one is usually ignored. The spring loading of the keys is just about right too. Not so hard that it’s difficult to push them in, but heavy enough so that you rarely depress one accidentally.
The wireless connectivity was excellent. There’s a “Cast” shortcut (you have to edit the shortcuts to get it accessible, but it’s there), and using that, the phone immediately found my Microsoft Wireless Display Adaptor, my LG TV and my Chromecast Ultra dongle, and was able to connect to them all.
The OTG functionality was fine, with support for the usual things including a high quality digital to analogue converter for audio and external memory. There was no support for an Ethernet adaptor, which is probably the kind of thing that could prove useful for the kinds of professionals who would likely most appreciate this phone. (Nor, for that matter, was there space for a second SIM, which I imagine business people would find useful.)
The USB Type-C connection was very fast. I got impatient with having OneDrive sync photos, so I plugged the phone into my compter and dragged 39 photos – consuming 189MB of space – over, and they copied to the computer in only 12 seconds. Wires still beat wireless in many circumstances.
In terms of raw power, this is a middling phone as the use of the Snapdragon 625 would suggest. The Basemark OS II benchmark test gave it a score of 1178 overall, compared to 2816 for a Samsung Galaxy S7. The Basemark X 1.1 gaming benchmark gave it 21213 vs 41505 for the Samsung.
But this isn’t really a gaming phone anyway. With a screen aspect ratio of 3:2 rather than the norm of 16:9 or wider, it’s not ideally suited. Throughout the time I had the phone, it ran smoothly, never giving any sense that it might be under powered, because of course it isn’t.