Design & Build5.7
The BlackBerry KEYone is one distinctive looking phone. For a design done differently, it sure is one good looking phone and the rubberized back feels solid and does not feel like it would come loose. I particularly liked the rounded bottom paired with a sharp edged top and the smooth back-to-front curvature makes the phone so good to hold. As you wrap your hand around the phone, you will feel the phone’s curves just beautifully blend into the skin of your palms. The rubber feels good and even if you were to sweet, the phone won’t slip out of your hands. The feel of this phone is just super.
So why such a low score on our design and build review? Well, while the build quality and design of the body of the phone is great, where we feel the design falls short is the keyboard. The KEYone’s main USP is the physical keyboard. Use something long enough and you get used to it, but in the two weeks I used this phone, there was just no getting used to the keyboard. Typing required too much bending of the thumbs, which also meant painful times when typing long messages. I wouldn’t shy away from saying that this could just be a personal short-coming, but I had a few in the family try the keyboard as well and we came to the same conclusion. The keys themselves are a little on the harder side to press, so its added pressure on the bent joint in our thumb. We wish the keys were touch sensitive for typing as well as it would reduce the fatigue on the thumbs, but that was not the case.
The other feature we found a little annoying was the convenience key. It is a great key to have no doubt, but the problem is its placement. The key if genuinely functional as you can configure it to do any one of a number of things, in my case, opening the camera. The downside is that it is placed just before the volume button and ends up getting pressed either accidentally while reaching for the volume rocker. Every time I wanted to hit the power key, I ended up hitting the convenience key instead. I found myself continuously wishing the position of the convenience key and the power button was reversed. The positioning bummer aside, the volume, power and the convenience key rocker have a very pleasing amount of travel.
The BlackBerry KEYone isn’t a smartphone that would naturally, seamlessly blend into your usage pattern, especially given that touch screens have been around for so long. It definitely takes getting used to, something that I failed at in the two weeks I had with the phone. The keyboard just does not work for me, given that I type over a thousand words per day on the phone, a lot of which goes into time sensitive stories. The keyboard takes a lot of getting used to, with no guarantee that you will actually ever get used to it.