- Excellent battery life
- Great for business
- Stock Android-like experience
- Excellent value for money
- Sub-par camera
- Boring and outdated design
- No physical keyboard (for hardcore BB lovers)
In a world where most smartphone companies are focused on the regular consumers and their mostly mundane requirements, there are little to no smartphones out there that are dedicated to particular niches like gaming or business. Just like Razer created the ultimate gaming smartphone, Blackberry is focusing on the business world, producing what are arguably the best business centric smartphones.
One of those is the Blackberry Motion, and as far as your business needs are concerned, it’s fantastic!
Let’s face it, this isn’t the most beautiful smartphone you can buy. While its 5.5 inch display is large enough to consume lots of content on the go, the phone is supersized by oversized top and bottom bezels, especially the bottom one, making it a lot larger than it needs to be. In a time when you can buy the thin-bezeled OnePlus 5T at AED 2,100 ($570), surely Blackberry could’ve worked a little harder on the design to reduce those large bezels.
The lower large bezel hosts the fingerprint scanner which has Blackberry’s logo on it. From the front, that’s the only of knowing this is a Blackberry. The back is a different story though.
The back has a rubbery visibly textured surface with a large Blackberry logo at the center of it. I would’ve preferred if the fingerprint scanner was in this logo’s place. That would’ve reduced the size of the front lower bezel and would’ve made the phone more 2017’ish. At the top of the back side sits the camera over an aluminum strip. The phone’s edges are all dry silver aluminum. It actually feels great to hold and makes it look premium. The top edge is slightly rounded, not too sure why they decided to design it this way, I can’t think of a benefit for it, while the lower edge holds the USB-C charging port, speaker and headphone jack.
The right side of the phone has the volume rocker, power button and a lovely convenience button, more on this one later. While the left side has the twin SIM card tray.
The phone is also IP67 water and dust resistant. Thank you!
To summarize, from the front side, the phone looks very basic and normal with the huge upper and lower bezels ruining the overall look and feel when compared to the rest of this year’s smartphones. The side bezels are absolutely minimal, which is a plus side. From the back side, it definitely looks very unique and Blackberryish. The logo screams the brand and the textured rubbery design gives it an edge.
Hardware and Software
On paper, this phone is average. It doesn’t have the most glaring of specs but they don’t disappoint either. Here’s the specs rundown as found on GSM Arena:
It’s running an almost stock-like Android version, which makes it smooth and zippy. I believe Blackberry made an excellent choice there considering the phone’s hardware specs, it’s the best way to reduce lag and ensure a smooth running phone.
But one of the best hardware features of this phone has to be the battery. This is probably the best advantage of the phone’s large size, holding a 4,000 mAh battery which lasted me more than a day, easily! In fact, it went on for 2 full days of work usage and I still had some battery left when I put it on the charger to ensure I have sufficient battery for the next day.
This the first business-specific, and generic, advantage this phone has. When you’re stuck in conferences, meetings, traveling, airports, etc and you need a reliable phone that doesn’t die on you at the worst time while responding to urgent emails or viewing important documents, this is exactly what you need.
Another one is a point I referenced earlier; the convenience key on the side. I love this. you can set it up to launch any of a wide array of functions and apps. It’s refreshing to have a dedicated programmable button like that to fast-launch your most used app. When you’re checking your email 100 times an hour, a shortcut is much needed.
Aside from that, the phone runs quite smoothly with no hiccups or issues faced while using it. What sets it apart from a software perspective though is the Blackberry apps and security features that come with it.
I won’t go into 12MP camera here. I’ve tried it and it falls short in many ways. Clearly, taking high quality pictures is not a priority for this phone. It takes mostly decent pictures overall, in day time. Night time is a miss thanks to its f/2.0 sensor. It basically performs like cameras on smartphones from about 2-3 years ago.
The display isn’t something to gawk at either. It’s a 5.5 inch LCD with 1920 x 1080 resolution at 403 ppi density. Yes, it’s full HD, it has a decent pixel density, but it’s an LCD. Colors won’t vividly stand out and the screen won’t attract onlookers attentions, which is probably what you need for a smartphone. It is quite bright though and does the job perfectly well for a business-focused phone at this price range. Don’t get me wrong, the display isn’t bad at all, it’s just that we’ve gotten quite spoiled with all the OLED’s out there these days.
The Blackberry Suite
This is the suite of apps that usually come with Blackberry. Most are business-focused and are there to make your life easier and your work more secured. In there, you can find the very well-known BBM and the Hub, which hosts all your notifications and messages from across all accounts. But you also have DTEK which performs a security check on your phone to make sure everything is secure. It looks at things like Apps and Permissions, Data Encryption, Developer Options, Operating System Integrity, among others.
The phone has an edge screen as well, launched by sliding an edge lever (very similar to Samsung’s Edge display). Except the difference between this one and Samsung’s is that this one takes up the whole screen when launched. Like Samsung’s, you can setup and customize a number of shortcuts, which act more like tabs than app shortcuts, showing you a brief snapshot on the edge display itself. Quite handy for a quick look at things like calendar, To Do list, mail, etc.
One notable and very unique feature this phone has is the Privacy Shade! You know those privacy screens some accountants place on their work monitors to stop people peeking into their screens from the sides? This does the same thing but it’s done by dimming out the screen and opening a small (size is customizable) window on the spot where you’re viewing/working with your content. For the business world, this is super handy. If you’re in a meeting and you don’t want the guy next to you peeking into what your emails are about and who they’re from, if you’re on a train/bus/plane/elevator, the list goes on. It’s a fantastic feature which people kind of thought they have to do without, well, they don’t anymore. I can see this being replicated by other manufacturers in the future.
This phone is designed primarily for business needs with business requirements and security in mind. The phone screams this in every built in app and design decision they’ve made. One thing I left till the end though, the keyboard. There’s no physical keyboard!! The keyboard is touchscreen as with all other smartphones these days. I’ve spoken to a Blackberry superfan about this and he said one of the very top reasons why he’s still loyal to Blackberry is because of their outstanding physical keyboards. Take that away and it’s no different from any other smartphone out there and I’d rather get an iPhone or Samsung.
Perhaps Blackberry is trying to cater to a market where people want a business phone but also want a large display. It’s a risky thing to do considering all the options out there. With a non-physical keyboard Blackberry lost a key differentiation it always prided itself with. It also means that if they want to sell a lot of this phone they’ll need to aggressively reach out to corporate entities that provide smartphones to their employees and show them all the value they can get for a low cost compared to others out there. This, together with the security this phone brings to the table, can be this device’s key USP in a market cutting costs left, right and center and yearning for ultra-secure networks.
You’ll have to see this phone from a business eye to really appreciate it, and this doesn’t only apply to the look and feel, it’s deeply integrated in the phone’s DNA, software and hardware. If you’re a person looking for a second business-focused smartphone. Or if you don’t care much about the bling and shiny stuff out there and you want a highly reliable, durable and functional budget smartphone with a battery that seemingly lasts forever in today’s battery standards, then the Blackberry Motion is the ultimate phone for you.
The phone retails at AED/SAR 1,699 ($462).