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The BlackBerry Motion is the future of Android phones

For better or worse, the BlackBerry Motion is the future of Android. Neither flashy nor charming, the Motion is plain and utilitarian. It gets the job done. It's a purpose-built device for a small slice of the smartphone buying public, one that values qualities that don't stand out. At $450 unlocked, the Motion is arguably overpriced for what it is, but BlackBerry has never had trouble getting its admittedly small core audience to pay a premium.

That BlackBerry Tax, if I may be so bold, bundles a certain amount of confidence in the post-purchase experience, both from a security and reliability perspective. The Motion is pretty rugged, and aside from my Pixels has the most current security patch of any phone in my office. It's also a decent performer, has insanely good battery life, and an excellent software experience. Here's why I think you shouldn't overlook it now that it's available unlocked in the U.S.

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1. The battery lasts forever

The future of Android is a battery that doesn't quit. Most people don't necessarily leave their phones unplugged overnight, but the Motion can and does last well into the following day without a nighttime top-up. The 4,000mah battery is enormous, but it doesn't make the phone itself oversized — it's just big enough to tip over into phablet territory.

The phone is also powerful enough not to make you feel bad about using a phone with such a big battery because you're not sacrificing one for the other. Like the BlackBerry KEYone, the Motion just flies through everything — except between then and now, BlackBerry must have fixed whatever was causing the stuttering and slow app launching that plagued the KEYone when it debuted last year.

2. BlackBerry is great at software ... and security updates

With the Motion, you're not buying a Pixel or even a OnePlus phone; you're buying a BlackBerry. While we don't know the company's long-term record when it comes to platform and security updates — remember, the Priv doesn't count because it was sold prior to the formation of BlackBerry Mobile — we have a decent amount of data to work with. The KEYone has managed to maintain near-monthly software updates on carriers and in the unlocked market alike, and Motion is likely to receive the same attention.

The reason is simple: BlackBerry built security updates into the design of the phone; the company committed to releasing monthly security updates to carriers, so the unlocked models benefit from that work already being done.

On the software side itself, BlackBerry's take on Android is subtle and easy to understand, but steeped in the productivity legacy that, over the years, many people (including me) have come to appreciate. I'm not going to say that the Motion's software is as smooth as the Pixel 2 nor as feature-rich as the Galaxy Note 8, but like so much else with the phone it falls somewhere in the middle.

3. The keyboard is outstanding

I'm a big fan of Google's official Android keyboard, Gboard, but whenever I pick up the Motion I'm always struck by how fast I can type on BlackBerry's on-screen equivalent. Obviously, the Motion lacks the hardware keys that make the KEYone so enticing, so the alternative needs to be just as good, and for the most part, it delivers.

Even as Gboard's prediction engine has improved over the years, there's something nice about being able to flick up on a particular letter to complete a word that makes BlackBerry's on-screen keyboard so satisfying to use, especially for longer-form work like documents and emails. That you still can't download it on non-BlackBerry devices is an indication that the company knows what it has and wants to keep it for itself. Good choice, in my opinion.

The best keyboards for Android

4. It's rugged and water resistant

The Motion is the first BlackBerry with an IP67 ingress rating, which means it can withstand up to one meter of water for 30 minutes. That's not uncommon these days — most decent phones above $500 have some sort of ingress protection — but in this price range, it's still rare.

Moreover, the phone is pretty rugged; I've been knocking it around in my pocket or bag going on two months now (yes, this write-up is a long time coming) and it looks no worse for the wear. It may not feel as hefty as the KEYone — there's more plastic than metal in here, largely to keep the price down — but it's a substantial device that will sustain some abuse.

5. It's a BlackBerry

Yeah, yeah, yuck it up. I'll wait. See, a lot of people dismissed the Priv when it debuted in 2015, but it became a veritable critical darling (if not a financial success). Same with the KEYone, except there's evidence to suggest that the phone is singlehandedly carrying TCL into 2018. Demand is so good there's even a bronze one now.

And yes, the Motion lacks BlackBerry's signature differentiator, the hardware keyboard, but it's a fundamentally solid product backed up by a company (well, two companies) that isn't going anywhere. At $450, it's not cheap, I'd wager there are a fair number of people willing to spend that extra hundred or so for the BlackBerry name. And if not, wait a few months: the phone will invariably get discounted to $350 before the summer (just a prediction, but one with precedent).

Why you wouldn't want the BlackBerry Motion

It's not all lollipops and rainbows over here for the BlackBerry Motion. See above — at $450, it's not cheap. While there's a subset of BlackBerry loyalists willing to spend that on a mid-range phone, most others — especially others buying their own phones and not having one foist upon them from a corporate overlord — would like see slicker, cheaper alternatives and balk at the Motion's asking price.

The Motion does a lot more right than wrong, but some people may not be able to get over its price — or its bad camera.

Especially so if imaging is a concern. The Motion has a 12MP camera, but that's just a number on paper; this thing is nowhere near as good as its equal-resolution peer in the KEYone. Indeed, I found it difficult to take a photo with the Motion that I'd be willing to share anywhere.

And finally, if you're interested in using this unlocked phone on Sprint, Verizon, or any other CDMA network, you're out of luck — this is a GSM-only device. Not a huge deal, but it pretty much halves the potential U.S. market.

The future of Android

It's not hard to grasp: Android is maturing, and so are the phones that run it. While people still clamor for the $1000 flagships, the real growth is in the affordable space, and the diversity of choice allows anyone to find the phone that is right for him or her. The BlackBerry Motion isn't the best mid-range phone on the market — not by a longshot — but it's got enough appeal to enough people to peacefully co-exist with products from Honor and Motorola and others.

My take is this: I highly recommend the BlackBerry Motion unless imaging is a priority. It has a camera, but it's not good. Its other flaws are more forgiveable.

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Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central. 

49 Comments
  • Nice article Daniel. I'm very curious to see what BlackBerry Mobile does in 2018. Hopefully BlackBerry inspires more manufacturers to place bigger batteries in their devices. Kudos to the KeyONE and Motion.
  • Sorry BlackBerry has a ways to go before being even close to being competitive in the States. Not even a choice at the local phone store. Sad..
    Maybe someday.
  • The die hards know where to find them. After all, they did know where to find the KEYone.
  • Your out to lunch buddy. Move along.
  • I recall BlackBerry specifically noting they are only selling direct and not via carrier stores. It has nothing to do with demand, this was a choice by BlackBerry to not go to carrier stores. They have far more flexibility and freedom by not paring with a carrier.
  • Man, hardware nav. If it's your thing, great, but I can't do it.
  • I love it on my OP3T and I can't imagine buying a phone that doesn't, mainly because I also don't want to give up my front FPS.
  • Clamor...
  • CDMA /lte version on the way, believe it or not, it has more bands then the unlocked model
  • Have used many keyboards, Windows Phone has the best!!
  • I beg to differ. BlackBerry's virtual keyboard was better on BlackBerry 10 and it's still better today :)
  • Exactly! I've tried ALL the Mobile operating systems to date and no one can beat the BB10 software keyboard. There's nothing even comparable.
    It's prediction system is sooooo damn cool and IT JUST WORKS! It learns from your habits! Shame on you BlackBerry to have put an end to the BB10 development, even though I understand why (poor sales, marketing, general decisions, ZERO apps..). :-(
  • windows phone is dead
  • I have owned the BB motion for a week now and as a business and personal user this is the best android phone I've owned. That includes having owned the Samsung S8 and LG V30. You can't kill this battery in a day! Each day I've put it on the charger late at night with about 35% left after 7+ hours of screen on time. I agree with everything Dan said except I think the BB Motion is a handsome device in a spartan sort of way.
  • So do I. I have BBMotion for a month and its battery takes 2 to 3 days before depleting.
  • How could you possibly recommend a phone that's so horribly dated? Oh, wait... this is Daniel instead of Michael, and it's a Blackberry with bigger bezels than a phone that was savagely roasted for having bezels.
    /s
    Seriously though, it is a durable design and I do like that keyboard. Eliminating the non-essentials from the keyboard maximizes the space for keys, and that makes a difference. 4000 mAh is not necessary for day and a half battery life, and I go two full days on the U11 with pretty heavy use. My average battery life is 40 hours per charge, and yes, I have screenshots ;)
  • @altema22 I have to disagree about 4000mAh not being necessary. I have a S8+ in a Mophie Juice case giving me 6600mAh and I am left with 20% when I get home often, and that 20% is not of the total, the phone gives me the read out of the device so I have approx 700mAh left at end of day. I would love to give the motion a shot, but the KEYone bogged down so hard when I loaded excel files from my dropbox over mobile that Im not going for another midrange phone for a few more cycles. Additionally the motion won't get a quality extended battery case so that also makes it a none starter for me. Because your usage doesn't require 4000mAh doesn't mean that there isn't a market segment of users that eat daily battery while working.
  • I guess it depends on the phone. I frequently wind up with 70% at the end of the day, and that's with moderate to heavy use. Even if I hammer it hard, it's almost impossible to end the day with less than 50%. Here's 70%:
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/TlzJNGWLiGkSvzPV2 And it takes almost three days to get down to 20%:
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/e7NGetNZ2AFG1Pb92
  • Your Phone usage is a BIG reason for your low battery usage. I average 5 hours of talk time in a day. ALL of that talk time is screen on time, majority is on cellular . Screen on talk time eats batteries. I would call what I saw as your usage light to ultra light usage in my world.
  • "That BlackBerry Tax, if I may be so bold" Was this pun intended?
  • The old (and real) BlackBerries were and are still better than this... :-/
    I would still consider buying a Z30 or a Leap for it's Hub, software keyboard, Mail and File management, over this..
    iPhone is the only real alternative to BB10, in fact I'm using an SE. Android is usable only on a Pixel directly updated from Google.
  • Haha, credibility drops to zero when stating iphony as the only alternative.
  • I gave up using my Passport this autumn, so I agree BB10 and HUB was by far the best, my Android Hub doesn't support my work Lotus Notes email like BB10 did.
    But to say that iPhone is even a shadow of the only alternative is wrong. Android with HUB, drupe, and File Manager+, bring me way more productivity than I was able to achieve on iOS who's contact manager is terrible and the alternative email tools again lacked what I needed and no quality share framework from the plethora of apps.
  • I have a KEYone and I have been a BlackBerry user for nearly 8 years but I have to say that as great as the Motion is, Most people want flashy looking phones with little to no bezels. Me personally would prefer this phone over a Galaxy or an LG phone but that just me being biased to brand loyalty. If anything it's gonna take a few more years of good android BlackBerry phones before BlackBerry can gain notoriety in the android community cause everyone usually looks at BlackBerry as out of date and behind on phones and they have to go and prove otherwise but if you ask me the KEYone and the Motion are the step in the right direction and hopes to a good future
  • If only they could get in with carriers. I'd much rather have this robust phone. Bezels shmezeles, after 6 years of reading about bezels I'm still confounded about why they are an issue. Give me tough over fragile any day and while wireless charging is a nice convenience give me durability over glass. I just wish that carriers would give them a shot.
  • I don't know what's happening in the Excited States, but my wife got her Motion from our carrier (Telus) as well as her DTEK50 and Priv. Remember that the US is not the only market in the world, just that there are a lot of Americans on this site.
  • Is it E.S.A now? Love it🤔
  • Choices and competition is great. I currently have only one phone. I prefer to have two (main and a backup only a SIM card swap away). These midrange handsets, unlocked, are always on my radar for that reason.
  • I have the Black Keyone and it is sweet not the fastest but I dont care it does everything i want it to do and the battery last and last and last.
    Love the BB PKB and their KB is the BEST! No other KB has the ability of flicking words up so where is all the others still way behind the times. If you want the hub you can get it on any android phone I have it on my back up LG V20 with many other items
  • What I want for other smartphone manufacturers to copy is the same rugged design and textured back of Blackberry. They are grippy and will take a beating compared to the current glass trend.
  • "I highly recommend the BlackBerry Motion unless imaging is a priority." Then Blackberry isn't the future of anything (well we already knew that) because imaging is precisely the thing most consumers most value in their phones these days.
  • BlackBerry has terrible cameras. BlackBerry has a notoriously bad history of providing Android O/S updates - it doesn't. the Motion has a screen downgrade and a chip downgrade from the DTEK60. Yes, its secure with a great keyboard, but that's it. Otherwise it is very low quality, Major disappointment. They aren't even trying to leverage their strong points into a competitive phone. Blame BlackBerry, or blame TCL, it doesn't matter, this phone will fizzle.
  • I think more important is how the BB motion performs day to day. I have the device and can say that while it's not quite as fast as my Galaxy S8 or LG V30 was, the speed and operation is fully acceptable to me without any crashes or freezes. Couple that with the endless battery life, IP67, great business features and this is an almost perfect phone for people like me. That's coming from someone who has zero brand loyalty. Best phone wins.
  • After being burned on the PRIV, I have no faith in the brand any longer. Have been a BBY user for at least 7 -8 years but moving on to something else. I do consider the PRIV as a testament to their commitment to security as it is a Blackberry. No way I'm paying $699 CDN for a low specced phone with no assurances of updates. Fool me once (Playbook), shame on you, fool me twice (PRIV), shame on me and to paraphrase GWB, 'I won't be fooled again'.
  • But remember the Priv doesn't count because *arbitrary reason I came up with to support my point.*
  • Ummmm priv was a BB phone, not the current Blackberry Mobile*coughcoughAlcatel* provider. The Motion is $450 not the $700 you stated. Give it a shot.
  • Ummmm ask the Dtek owners how they feel about their purchases. Motion is currently $599 CDN unlocked in Canada, KeyOne is $729 for the original or $799 for the Limited Edition, (prices are all from Bestbuy.ca). Essential PH-1 is now $460 at Telus/Koodo the only retailer of the phone in Canada. Why would I not get the PH-1 with much better specs and, (as long as they survive), three years of security patches and two years for OS updates? As for the PRIV, I realize that Blackberry Mobile has nothing to do with it, my point is why should I trust the brand? The Dtek phones were also produced by Alcatel and are stuck on Marshmallow just like the PRIV. There is little to trust in this brand any longer, I don't care who makes the device, the name is tarnished and I doubt it will ever recover.
  • I'm glad that Blackberry is making these phones and they should be well received. There are many of us out here, who are just looking for a solid phone without all of the gimmicks. As someone who uses their phone for work, security patches are a must and far too few Android phone manufactures put a premium on regular security updates. Glad to see Blackberry continues to offer an alternative to those of us who just want a solid performing secure phone as opposed to shrinking bezels and gimmicks.
  • Umm, no. The future of phones is no more phones.
  • This is a fine review, but the article doesn't really back up the assertion in the title. You didn't make the case.
  • $450 is a lot? What would you want to pay, Daniel? Whatever price point, compare like priced phones and see how much bang for y our buck you get. Granted, who wouldn't want to pay less for anything. But I don't think $450 is as outrageous as you make it sound. The DTEK50 is probably the price you're looking for, but there isn't a lot of bang.
  • Love Love Love the battery life. I don't personally own one but I had my friend let me borrow it and it's even more impressive than my Moto G5+. It really puts Flagships to shame, at least as far as battery life is concerned.
  • No shame in a flagship going two and a half days on one charge my friend, but I realize that is rare :)
  • ron912
    BlackBerry has terrible cameras. BlackBerry has a notoriously bad history of providing Android O/S updates - it doesn't. the Motion has a screen downgrade and a chip downgrade from the DTEK60. Yes, its secure with a great keyboard, but that's it. Otherwise it is very low quality, Major disappointment. They aren't even trying to leverage their strong points into a competitive phone. Blame BlackBerry, or blame TCL, it doesn't matter, this phone will fizzle. Maybe ron is you knew what you were talking about on OS updates they do a great job getting them out every month Not sure what your smoking but they come thru every month for me and other droid phones it was hit and miss
    Have your even tried the Keyone? Im guessing not but oh well typical
  • Nice, I'd like a Blackberry Motion flagship, though, with better specs, thinner bezels, etc.
  • All wrote in article is a crap
    1. Is 4k mAh a lot? There are devices with more. They should be preized, not this one.
    2. Blackberry and updates is not something You should be sure, to close to what they did with Priv...
    3. There are better keyboards and even if this one is good form one person it doesn't mean that it will be for others.
    4. Seen prettier. Rest was said - it's unique, but not to much.
    5. And what? Can be said same fos Samsung, Xiaomi, Sony, Google... ("It's a X" <- choose Your manufacturer)... Boring...
  • No...just no...blackberry needs to die, and what little talent there needs to go elsewhere where it's not wasted...
  • So which blackberry are you going to buy and how many?😎
  • Slacker is obviously just that. You might do some research before you run your mouth about obviously something you are clueless about.
    1. Blackberry made a profit this year..http://www.businessinsider.com/blackberry-earnings-q1-2018-2017-6 Especially with an infusion of a 940 million dollar
    settlement from QUALCOMM in arbitration.
    2. Blackberry licenses there name to Alcatel so its not actually Blackberry making phones , just the proprietary software.
    3 There talent isnt wasted its just changed direction into being security software.