BlackBerry KeyOne: Loyal users will love this Android phone

BlackBerry KeyOne: Loyal users will love this Android phone

The BlackBerry KeyOne

BlackBerry KeyOne: Loyal users will love this Android phone

DTEK software is preloaded on the KeyOne

And even thumb typists will appreciate an assist from the touch screen from time to time. So when you press the  “sym” key on the physical keyboard, a virtual touch screen keyboard with all the various symbol options turns up on the screen just above. What’s more, as you compose a text or email, a trio of predictive word suggestions you may want to include next appears, a feature that’s common to other phones as well.

What’s not common is how you might go with one of those word choices. You can lightly slide your finger up against the physical keyboard—it doubles as a kind of trackpad—to practically flick the word you’ve selected directly into your message. It’s a neat parlor trick, and "flick typing" might actually prove to be productive. You can alternatively just tap a word choice.

Meantime while gently guiding your finger along the trackpad, you can also scroll what’s on the screen, though frankly I found it just as simple, if not simpler, to scroll by making direct contact with my thumb along the display.

Keyboard shortcuts are another BlackBerry tradition that is a big part of the KeyOne experience. You can customize up to 52 such shortcuts, such as pressing the “c” key to summon the calendar app or the “m” key to text a message to a designated contact.

One feature that I really like is the fingerprint sensor that’s cleverly embedded into the space bar, a natural landing spot for your thumb and a fast and accurate way to authenticate your identify.

Alas, there’s also a downside: I too often mistook that space bar for the actual home key, which is the circle that you can tap just above the top row of physical keys.

BlackBerry KeyOne: Loyal users will love this Android phone

Front and rear views of the BlackBerry KeyOne

Meanwhile, BlackBerry has positioned a physical convenience key on the right side of the device that you can customize for an action, perhaps a one-key speed dial to your spouse. But you might also mistake that button for the power button that’s on the left side.

Other items on the KeyOne to make note of: the phone has 32GB of memory that’s expandable via microSD up to 2TB. The device is fast to charge (via USB-C adapter) and though I didn’t conduct a formal battery test, I never had to fret about power.

I don’t expect the KeyOne to spark a major resurgence of interest in BlackBerry. But there’s a lot to please loyal fans, and other smartphone users intoxicated by the prospects of a physical keyboard experience will also find much to like.

Email: [email protected]; Follow USA TODAY Personal Tech Columnist @edbaig on Twitter

BlackBerry KeyOne

$549, Blackberrymobile.com

Pro. Productivity workhorse with physical keyboard, robust security, strong battery, customizable shortcuts, fingerprint sensor embedded in space bar.

Con. Physical keyboard not for everybody. Not a great phone for entertainment. Some confusing design elements.



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