One month with the BlackBerry KEYone: Productivity and battery life trump mid-level specs

After using the BlackBerry KEYone for a month, it is easy to see how this mid-level specced device serves as a productive daily driver for enterprise customers. It's been a joy to use and the classy looking device fits in perfectly at the office.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer
Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The BlackBerry KEYone is more than just a smartphone with a hardware QWERTY keyboard and is proving to be one of my favorite phones of all time.

While there are some excellent mid-tier devices, I use my phone as an essential tool for several hours a day, so I can justify paying the high price for flagship phones. However, the BlackBerry KEYone keeps taking my primary SIM and has proven to be an extremely productive device with very few tradeoffs -- while being priced at a reasonable $550, hundreds less than flagships from Samsung and Apple.

My initial experiences focused on the excellent QWERTY keyboard and it continues to impress me with its capability. However, the entire package is proving to be compelling with BlackBerry Hub's efficient communications management, a solid camera experience, stunning battery life, timely software and security updates, and a unique look that stands out from the crowd.

The more I use my phones for work, the more important that battery life becomes. You can use the BlackBerry KEYone as heavily as you want and it will last into the next day. It is refreshing to just use a phone as much as you want or need and not have to worry at all about topping it off to get to the end of the day. As people use their smartphones as their primary computing device, long battery life gets to be an essential feature and the KEYone stands out from the pack.

BlackBerry Hub on Android offers a better experience for me than having Gmail and/or an Exchange client on an Android phone, with options to manage my email being a bit faster than other email clients. The ability to easily swipe through all of the messages in the Hub is also essential for efficiency. Similar to how the iPad makes work enjoyable, the BlackBerry Hub takes away some of the pain of communications with its centralized system and user interface.

I bounce around phones with fingerprint scanners on the front and on the back, but having the scanner included in the space bar where I naturally rest my thumb when using the KEYone means I am able to unlock and start using the KEYone faster than with any other phone I have used in the past couple years with fingerprint scanners.

The BlackBerry KEYone is not your typical black slab smartphone and offers innovation in its hardware keyboard and software. It feels fantastic in your hand and looks like it belongs in the office with smart looks and unique design. To be honest, the BlackBerry KEYone is one of my favorite Android devices of all time and is even more compelling with its reasonable $550 price tag. If you haven't tried one yet, visit your local Best Buy and take a spin on the QWERTY keyboard.

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