Why I'm still using a BlackBerry KEYone in Spring 2018

If you had asked me, or anyone, really, two years ago if I would be using a BlackBerry in 2018 I'd have quietly replied with a no. Like everyone else, I was sure the company was a goner and I hated thinking about that. BlackBerry was not only in financial trouble, but had a stigma following it through conversations on- and offline. BlackBerry was on its way out and it was time to wave goodbye or send a farewell text from a Samsung phone. Thankfully, I'm here to tell you that BlackBerry never left and the KEYone is one of the best Android phones you can buy today.

I've been a BlackBerry user forever. It's awesome to be able to still be one.

I hated saying goodbye to my old Curve. I was a BlackBerry user since forever, as the company I worked for issued me a big, blocky BlackBerry 857 so they could bug me 24 hours a day. Being able to read more than the 240 characters (and the 10-digit sending number counted against them) and reply made the BlackBerry a step above a pager or PDA, and I was fascinated. I'm sure there were some other reasons the IT department loved them, but I got hooked on being able to carry a tiny computer with me wherever I went. I stuck with BlackBerry as my personal phone through the years where it seemed the company struggled to keep up with Apple, but when the T-Mobile G1 was announced I decided I was going to jump ship. I never thought about carrying two phones because nobody did back then. Ahh, the good old days.

My boss can send me any phone I want, but I don't want a different phone.

Thankfully, BlackBerry and Android have hooked up, and after releasing a couple of good phones (the Priv in particular got me itching for a BB again) its new overseer, TCL Communications, released the KEYone. While most every review of the phone was very positive, I think I went a step further than most tech bloggers and knew it was the phone for me. I was lucky enough to get one a bit early, and have been using it ever since. Like a lot of people who also use and love the KEYone (those capital letters, ugh) it does everything I want my phone to do and does it all really well. I also use a Pixel 2 (I ended up carrying two phones after all) and really like it, but it's in my pocket because of where I work — Android Central means I need to know "regular" Android inside and out. But if I'm in your phone book and you give me a call, it will ring on my KEYone because that's my phone.

I want my phone to do three things flawlessly: have a great battery, be secure, and be able to act as my mobile office. I know a lot of people have other priorities when it comes to the things their phone can do, but those are mine. I use a handful of apps, but if you see me with my phone in my hands, chances are I'm "talking" to someone. My phone is a tool. So is yours. And we all need the right tool for the job just as a mechanic or plumber does.

My KEYone will go two days on a single charge easily. Granted, I'm not watching movies or chasing Pokemon with it, but I am using it — location is turned on, messages never stop coming (the Mobile Nations Slack channel is noisy), it's syncing two email accounts that get a lot of mail and doing all the other things that need to be done to make all this happen. You can ask anyone who uses or has used a KEYone and they'll tell you that it's a total battery life champ.

BlackBerry wants to keep intruders out of your phone but also makes sure they can't do anything if they get in.

BlackBerry thinks about security the same way I do: focus on what can happen once something or someone gets in, not just keeping that someone or something out. If an app or any type of other silliness tries to modify the core system, the phone shuts off and won't restart. You can't get at someone's data when it's offline. I'll admit I don't agree with BlackBerry's corporate policy of giving encryption keys to governments (after a lawful order, mind you) and if I happen to visit China or Pakistan, or chat regularly with someone from either country, I'll need to consider what I do. And while I'd like to see the latest version of Android because of the features, Google isn't doing anything that BlackBerry isn't already doing when it comes to security. I have absolute faith that if my KEYone gets hacked it's because I did something really, really stupid and not just because of an app I installed.

The marriage of physical keys to capacitive sensing make the KEYone's keyboard the best BlackBerry has ever had.

My favorite feature is the keyboard. There was a time when all smartphones had physical keyboards, but none measured up to what BlackBerry offered, and seeing it in 2018 and better than ever is downright glorious.

BlackBerry users know what I'm talking about here; it's the most natural way for me to communicate with my phone. I can type just fine on a standard on-screen keyboard, but I can type better and faster on my BlackBerry. And I can do it without looking at it with enough proficiency that I'm not embarrassed to send anything I type with my one blind thumb. I can reply to friends or family or I can get some work done — I've written blog posts here at AC using my KEYone. That's not my favorite way to work, but knowing I can is great.

This is the phone BlackBerry fans have deserved for years.

Add in the things Android brings to the table; things like application intents and information sharing, a gigantic app store that will have whatever thing I might need in it, and the integration with Google's online services and the KEYone is one of the best phones you can buy in 2018. I don't see myself replacing it until we see a KEYtwo.

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Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.