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Blackberry is back (no, seriously, the KEYone is worth a look)

When I made the switch from an iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy S3 a few years back it felt like a giant leap of faith.
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When I made the switch from an iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy S3 a few years back it felt like a giant leap of faith. Apple pioneered and led the smartphone space for so long, surely there was no reason to trust a different brand? But I did, and the result was that my world opened up a tiny little bit as I wasn't chained to Apple for everything tech in my life (except their laptops, which I have used for nearly 20 years). That was back in 2012 and I've tried to be agnostic when it comes to what kind of phone I use ever since.

All of the phones I've used over the years: The Brick, Motorola Backflip, iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S3, BlackBerry Z10, and the Samsung Galaxy S4The Brick, Motorola Backflip, iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S3, BlackBerry Z10, and the Samsung Galaxy S4

When Blackberry introduced their Z10 (near-clone of the iPhone) in 2013 I gave it a shot and was excited for a hot minute, then disappointed when I realized that nobody was going to make apps for their operating system. There was a complicated way of sideloading Instagram onto it but it constantly crashed, and I ended up giving the thing away and going back to Samsung.

Right now Android is my system of choice but I'll give any hardware a chance. So when I saw that a new Blackberry was coming out as an Android device my giant thumbs and I were delighted.

I was sent the new Blackberry KEYone unit to review two months ago and I decided fairly early on that I was in for the long haul with the thing. It's a perfect fit for a number of reasons (the biggest one being the keyboard) and in fact I now can't imagine going back to typing with a single finger.

The camera is just as good as any on my previous phones. This image below isn't exactly on the same level as a Time magazine cover shot on the iPhone, but this panoramic I shot on it was used in a story on the Vancouver Courier's website recently. Pretty good.

Here's a list of reasons I'd recommend this phone. I don't assume it has universal appeal but some of this might jump out at you:

1. The battery life is incredible

I literally don't have to this thing in at night because the battery is usually still around 50% by the time I go to bed. It weighs more than most other phones but is only a couple millimetres more thick, and somehow they've packed a massive battery in there.

2. I can type 2x faster than I could previously

On a regular keyboard I can type a flurry of words in very little time. However as I mentioned, I have big thumbs, and I've never been able to hold my phone and type using both thumbs. I use my pointer finger, and it has led to me hating to text or do any sort of work on my phone when I'm away from my desk. That changed with this thing, as I'm now able to do what the rest of you folks do, and that is type fast on my phone.

The only downside to the keyboard is that it makes the screen a tiny bit shorter. The only time I've noticed is in Instagram stories, where the top and bottom of some images and videos gets chopped off.

3. It has an FM radio tuner

Samsung had this on some of their earlier devices but dropped it. I am a huge CBC nerd and while they have a decent app I enjoy tuning in to the direct signal. HERE is what the tuner app looks like.

4. It's Canadian (er, kinda)

In 2016 Blackberry licensed hardware manufacturing out to a Chinese company called TCL Corporation, who produce phones under the Blackberry name. There's a certain sort of nostalgia to the brand for me still, and while it may not be the giant it once was, it was sparked here.

Check it out and blackberrymobile.com, and if you're keen you can get one from Telus on a plan for $0, or with no term for $700.