The Blackberry KEYone that was released earlier this year was one of our favorite Android smartphones of 2017. While not all may agree with this conclusion, there was still a lot to like – it had the latest clutter free version of Android that is updated regularly; it was secure thanks to the proprietary DTEK software; it had amazing battery life; a good if not great camera and you simply cannot look past that beautiful throwback keyboard. The Motion is the next step forward for TCL/Blackberry and while it may not be all that revolutionary in terms of design or hardware, that doesn’t mean that the Motion is not evolutionary in the gradual wake of a sleeping giant.
Let’s start with the build quality. The Motion takes a lot of cues from it’s predecessor with a strong aluminum frame and unapologetic soft-grip textured back that is a welcome change from the glass sandwich motif of many phones this past year. Up front we now have a beautiful 5.5-inch full HD IPS display with a proprietary nano-diamond anti-scratch coating for added protection. There is also a Blackberry branded home button and two capacitive buttons flanking the sides at the bottom half of the display. Another familiar inclusion, that we wish other manufacturers would take on board, is the convenience key – a programmable button located at the side of the phone that can do everything from compose an email, summon google assistant or just turn Bluetooth on or off.
Now, let’s take a moment to address the elephant in the room…no…there is no physical keyboard, it has been replaced with a software based one, it does work just as well as any other smartphone but you Blackberry purists may be disappointed in hearing this. However, a welcome new addition to this mid-range device is IP67 water and dust resistance, which also protects the phone further from accidental drops into toilets and pools or those vicious apocalyptic dust storms we all fear.
Much hasn’t changed under the hood either, you still get the new normal – a USB-C charging port with Quick Charge 3.0, a very capable 2.0ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, 4gb of ram and a sufficient perhaps even a little disappointing 32gb storage capacity with microSD expandability. You also get the usual array of connectivity options including Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, and even a FM radio.
The Motion is also backed by some powerful yet familiar software. The device runs the latest Android 7.1, a non-cluttered version of the OS with some welcome inclusions such as the classic BBM messenger and HUB services but also the reassurance of the DTEK security suite which ensures your device is configured to be the most secure it can be, something that was underappreciated by other bloggers when it came to the KEYone.
Next, the camera. While the KEYone camera received a lot of praise from us when we reviewed the device, the Motion’s camera is above average at best. The familiar set up of a 12 MP main camera with large pixel auto-focus and 4k recording and an 8 MP front camera with wide angle lens with flash is nothing new but the hardware itself and image sensor has changed, probably as a cost cutting measure. Now, don’t panic! The camera is not god-awful and in good light you can get some great shots but in low-light, like many other mid range devices, the shots are underwhelming but suitable.
Finally, what could be the biggest selling point of the Motion has to be that massive 4000mah battery. This is one of the largest capacity batteries found on a mainstream Android device in the past 6 months and it pays off in dividends. The KEYone always had strong battery prowess with 2-day battery life but the Motion takes that one step further by pushing the boundaries of what a smartphone can do on a single charge. The Snapdragon 625 processor was always super efficient but couple that with a bigger battery and wow, this thing will easily go the distance with 2-3 days on a single charge and at least 10 hours screen on time, in our testing anyway. Best of all with Quick Charge 3.0, you can top this bad boy off in just under 90 minutes!
The Motion continues TCL/Blackberry’s tradition of creating robust productivity devices that are made for people that want a jack of all trades device. Someone that doesn’t want to concern themselves with security, want their battery to fail them when they need it most or just want to take a photo without overthinking it. The combination of a quality water resistant build meeting a powerful Android operating system with some welcome tweaks is what will make people gravitate to this device and they rightly should, it is a great phone as we round the year!