BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition review: Sexier look with minor performance improvements

Android / Mobile / Mobile Reviews / Reviews / Top Picks
BlackBerry-KEYone-Black-Edition-review

Not only does the BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition look sharper, in my opinion, but it offers a minor performance bump with extra RAM and storage.

TA-ratings-95Wait, didn’t you already review the BlackBerry KEYone at Techaeris? We sure did! Shortly after our review, however, TCL announced a new BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition (not to be confused with the TELUS exclusive Space Black Edition). Not only does it feature an all black colour scheme, getting rid of the silver accents, it also got a bump in RAM to 4GB and in storage size to 64GB. Even though it has minor differences, our BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition review will take a quick, and shortened, look at the updated device to see if it stands up as a Top Pick of 2017.

NOTE: Because of the minor changes, we’ll only be discussing Design, Performance, and Battery Life, as well as Price/Value in this mini-review. If you haven’t already, I’d suggest you read our BlackBerry KEYone review first for the lowdown on the rest.

Specifications

The BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition has the following features and specifications:

  • Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 625 Octa-Core 2.0 GHz, 64-bit Adreno 506, 650MHz GPU
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Storage: 64 GB Flash
  • Expandable memory: Expandable memory via hot swappable microSD memory card (up to 2TB)
  • Screen size: 4.5″ diagonal; 3:2 aspect ratio
  • Resolution: 1620×1080 IPS LCD, 433 PPI, 24-bit color depth
  • Rear camera: 12MP f/2.0 auto-focus, large pixel camera with PDAF, fast focus lock, HDR, dual-tone LED flash, multi-frame low light enhancement
  • Front camera: 8MP f/2.2 fixed-focus, 1.125um pixel size, 84° wide angle/field of view lens, image & video stabilization, light-up LCD flash, wide selfie mode, multi-frame low light enhancement
  • Ports: USB Type-C (USB 3.1)
  • Battery: 3505 mAh 4.4V non-removable Lithium-Ion battery QC3.0; Enabled 50% charge in 36 minutes
  • Operating system: Android OS 7.1.1 Nougat
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz, 802.11 a/n 5GHz, 802.11 ac 5GHz, 4G mobile hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.2 LE and EDR
  • NFC: Yes
  • GPS: GLONASS, BeiDou2, OTDOA
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, proximity, ambient light, hall effect
  • Dimensions: 149.3 x 72.5 x 9.4mm (5.8 x 2.8 x 0.37″)
  • Weight: 180g (6.34oz)

What’s in the box

  • BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition
  • USB to USB Type-C cable
  • Power adapter
  • BlackBerry branded earbuds
  • SIM card tray remover
  • Quick Start Guide
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What’s in the box…

Design

While I enjoyed the silver/black look of the original BlackBerry KEYone, it does have a bit of a retro/nostalgic look to it with the dual-tone design. By replacing the silver frame and accents with a matte black colour, TCL and BlackBerry have transformed it into a modern, slick, and yes, I’ll say sexy looking smartphone. While the silver aluminum finish on the original wasn’t very shiny, the black blends in with the rest of the phone and looks sharp.

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Back view of the BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition.

Performance

The original BlackBerry KEYone and the TELUS-exclusive Space Black Edition both feature 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage space. The BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition gets a 33% boost in RAM, bringing the total to 4GB. You’re also getting double the storage space with 64GB of internal storage. Of course, the microSD card slot is still available, allowing you to store your music, photos, or otherwise generally expand the storage on the device.

BlackBerry-KEYone-Black-Edition-review-04

Front view of the BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition.

So the question is, does an extra GB of RAM and double the storage space warrant an upgrade or purchase over the original version? While I had no issues with the 32GB of RAM in the original BlackBerry KEYone, the Black Edition definitely feels snappier, especially when launching and switching between multiple apps or games. As discussed in the Price/Value section below, the extra GB of RAM and double the storage will also give you more breathing room as far as longevity of the device is concerned.

Battery Life

Even with an extra GB of RAM, the 3505mAh battery on the BlackBerry KEYone still lasts throughout the day with a decent 7 to 8 hours of screen on time with about 25% battery left. As always, your battery life will depend on what type of apps and games you use on a daily basis.

Price/Value

While the BlackBerry KEYone is available for $700CAD off contract at most carriers (or $729.99CAD at retailers), the BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition is available to purchase outright for $799.99 at retailers. With 33% more RAM and double the storage space for less than $100 more, if you’re considering a BlackBerry KEYone, you should definitely snag the Black Edition instead.

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Colour aside, the extra RAM and storage is worth the price difference.

Wrap-up

The BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition definitely looks prettier — in my opinion — than its silver sibling. Colour difference aside, the increase in RAM and double the storage is definitely worth the price difference between the two KEYone versions and easily retains its Top Pick of 2017 status here at Techaeris. Either way, you can’t really go wrong with either version.

*We were sent a sample of the BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition for the purposes of this review.

BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition

$799.99 CAD
BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition
9.5

Design

10/10

    Display

    10/10

      Software

      10/10

        Performance

        10/10

          Speakers/Sound

          9/10

            Camera

            9/10

              Reception/Call Quality

              10/10

                Battery Life

                10/10

                  Price/Value

                  10/10

                    Nailed it

                    • Sexy, all-black look
                    • Increased RAM, double the storage
                    • Sturdy construction
                    • Solid design
                    • Physical keyboard adds much functionality
                    • Plenty of productivity apps
                    • Very customizable, especially with the BlackBerry Hub
                    • Great battery life
                    • Decent camera
                    • Fairly decent sound

                    Needs work

                    • Shift and Alt keys reversed from typical keyboards
                    • Convenience key can't be disabled
                    • Doesn't seem to connect with fitness trackers
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