Mobiles: BlackBerry fails to impress

The BlackBerry phone is back. That’s good news for diehard fans of the physical keyboard, but I’ve never understood the attraction. First, the screen size is sacrificed to make room for the keys. Second, virtual keyboards are fine, and pop up only when you need them. Third, increasingly we just tap on icons to get things done, and finally there’s voice-to-text, which is much easier.

The BlackBerry KEYone ($ 899) is the latest offering, an Android phone built by Chinese electronics company TCL.

Nice, if you like keyboards.

Nice, if you like keyboards.

Bucking the trend, the designers had no interest in making the KEYone as thin as possible, going instead with a thicker aluminium body. It’s a solid device that feels good to hold, with a tactile rubberised back. But it does look like a weird elongated calculator.

There is a fingerprint reader in the space bar, which is also a camera shutter button.

It’s cool to shake the device twice to quickly turn on the camera, but the photos are not as crisp and detailed as ones I took with an iPhone 7 Plus and a Samsung Galaxy S7, especially in low light.

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