The main USP of the BlackBerry KEYone is the keyboard. In fact, talk to a BlackBerry fan and they will swear that the keyboard is what makes the BlackBerry devices special. When using the keyboard on the KEYone, there were two things that immediately stood out; first, the keys were packed fairly close together and second, the keys were very stiff. We’ve all gotten so used to having a letter appear on the screen at the lightest touch that having to push the keys on the KEYone actually starts to hurt the tips of my thumbs after a while. Typing long messages was not only slow, but also arduous. Throughout my time with the KEYone, I kept wishing the keys were touch sensitive, that they didn’t actually require so much pressure to type so that the joints in my thumb wouldn’t be in pain by the end of the day.
While the keyboard is difficult to type on, it does serve a very handy purpose. Each of the letters can be programmed to launch an app when long pressed, which I found to be rather handy. Some keys already have a pre-defined function which cannot be changed, but that is fine. Being able to launch all my frequently used apps without having to scroll through the app drawer or go through folders was actually very convenient. They spacebar is where the fingerprint sensor has been embedded and it doubles up as the shutter button when the camera is launched, however, it does not function as the home key by default.
While the ability to assign shortcuts to keys is great, we feel that the keyboard on the BlackBerry KEYone does not live up to its primary purpose, as a tool for typing. They hardness of the keys becomes uncomfortable after a point and the tight spacing of the keys themselves makes it very easy to hit the wrong key. After two weeks of using the BlackBerry KEYone as my exclusive smartphone, my feelings about the keyboard remained unchanged. It is possible that because I am not as invested in BlackBerry as most of its loyal customers, I wasn’t willing to spend the time getting re-acquainted with the keyboard. Even that being the case, the points about discomfort and key spacing hold true. I strongly recommend that if you are indeed considering buying the KEYone, do try and get your hands on the phone at a store or through a friend and get a feel for the keyboard.