28 Black­Berry Mo­tion

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Black­Berry con­tin­ues to morph into its true sec­ond phase in 2017. The KeyOne was a mi­nor suc­cess in tech cir­cles, with peo­ple en­joy­ing the clas­sic aes­thetic, phys­i­cal key­board and up to date An­droid ex­pe­ri­ence. The Mo­tion con­tin­ues that re­vival as part of Black­Berry Mo­bile’s li­cens­ing deal with TCL. The for­mer mar­kets, the lat­ter man­u­fac­tures. On this ev­i­dence, it is do­ing a pretty great job.

The Mo­tion is a solid, aus­tere slab of smart­phone at an af­ford­able price point, but when you look at the

spec­i­fi­ca­tions, there are high-end op­tions out there for less than £100 more.

De­sign

Black­Berry is re­mem­bered for its mid-2000s hey­day when hand­sets like the Bold 9900 were strictly busi­ness look­ing and felt close to in­de­struc­tible. The Mo­tion is go­ing to pick up scratches, dents and maybe a smashed screen like any other phone might, but it does feel solid with its alu­minium frame, a nice ad­di­tion at the price point.

Un­like the DTEK50 and DTEK60, TCL and BB Mo­bile’s other all-touch­screen Black­Berry phones, the Mo­tion feels pre­mium. It is slightly larger than the KeyOne and boasts a 5.5in dis­play.

The bot­tom bezel is a tad chunky but houses ca­pac­i­tive nav­i­ga­tion but­tons that you can’t swap over as they are back­lit, spe­cific sym­bols. A phys­i­cal but­ton in­te­grates a fin­ger­print sen­sor and an un­sub­tle bit of Black­Berry brand­ing. The top bezel is slim­mer with cam­era and LED no­ti­fi­ca­tion light if you long for the retro Black­Berry vibe.

Black­Berry’s map­pable con­ve­nience key is now on the right edge next to the power but­ton, while you’ll also find a head­phone jack (hooray), down­ward fac­ing speaker and cam­era with flash. The back also has a Kevlar-es­que tex­ture that is less pro­nounced than on the KeyOne, but is still a great ad­di­tion for grip and also doesn’t show fin­ger­prints like so many other phones do. It charges via USB-C and has an at­trac­tive tex­tured de­tail to the metal­lic sil­ver bumper. We also like how the phone curves over at the top

rather than be­ing flat, some­thing we’ve not seen on any other phones re­cently.

Hard­ware

The Mo­tion is on the large side, mea­sur­ing 155.7x75.4x8.1mm with pro­nounced bezels. The 5.5in screen is just about man­age­able one handed, but it’s by no means a small de­vice. Luck­ily you can swipe down on the fin­ger­print sen­sor to pull down the no­ti­fi­ca­tion shade, but it’s not as in­tu­itive as with a rear-mounted fin­ger­print sen­sor.

The sen­sor it­self re­calls the Galaxy S6 and S7 in that it is a phys­i­cal but­ton rather than this year’s trend for static sen­sors. It’s not the fastest un­lock mech­a­nism on the mar­ket, but a sim­ple plac­ing of your thumb or fin­ger on the sen­sor wakes the phone promptly.

In my ini­tial use of the phone it has coped pretty well with all tasks con­sid­er­ing the mid-range Snap­dragon 625 pro­ces­sor found in the KeyOne and the Moto G5 Plus. 4GB RAM cer­tainly helps that, while it has 32GB of ex­pand­able stor­age up to 256GB for all your lo­cal me­dia.

Dis­play

The dis­play is a 1920x1080p IPS LCD with 401ppi, and looks vi­brant enough, but isn’t the bright­est panel out there. View­ing an­gles are de­cent but it does strug­gle a bit in bright sun­light.

Touch re­spon­sive­ness is de­cent, and the panel feels more rugged com­pared to the some­times flimsy-feel­ing KeyOne. The Mo­tion has slight light bleed on the top and bot­tom of the screen

that’s par­tic­u­larly vis­i­ble when it’s white, but that is com­mon­place on de­vices of this price.

You’re tap­ping di­rectly onto glass that is nan­odi­a­mond coated, a world first ac­cord­ing to Black­Berry Mo­bile. It’s there­fore not the in­dus­try-favourite Go­rilla Glass and con­sid­er­ing the prom­ise we ac­tu­ally picked up a small scratch on the first day of use.

It feels nicer to use glass though than some­thing like the plas­tic coated Shat­terShield on the Moto Z2 Force, but Black­Berry is say­ing the Mo­tion’s screen is anti-scratch rather than scratch proof, so it just about gets away with it.

Cam­eras

The cam­era is a 12Mp sen­sor with f/2.0 aper­ture and a dual LED flash. It’s also great to see 4K video record­ing at 30fps on a phone that costs un­der £400.

Re­sults are pre­dictably mixed, with bright sun­light be­ing the op­ti­mum shoot­ing con­di­tion ( im­age 1). You need a steady hand too, as it’s easy to get blurry shots with­out re­al­is­ing un­til you view them en­larged. We also viewed some im­ages on a mon­i­tor to find they were bet­ter than the Mo­tion’s dis­play sug­gested.

So, we can’t rec­om­mend the Mo­tion’s cam­era for more than the odd point-and-shoot sit­u­a­tion, though it’s per­fectly ad­e­quate for so­cial me­dia pur­poses.

Bat­tery life

One of the head­line specs here is the phone’s 4,000mAh bat­tery, and it de­liv­ers on the prom­ise of

two days bat­tery life. Charg­ing hap­pens over USB-C and Quick Charge 3, though you have to un­lock the phone and se­lect boost mode when you plug in or it won’t charge as fast.

The Mo­tion breezes past three hours screen on time with at least 60 per­cent bat­tery left, and with medium to heavy use us­ing the phone as my main de­vice, We com­fort­ably got two full work­ing days from the Mo­tion, and only reached for the charger around mid­day on the third day. And if you’re won­der­ing, yes this is in­sane.

Of all the phones we’ve tested re­cently, only the Len­ovo P2 can match the Mo­tion for this kind of bat­tery stamina. It is no co­in­ci­dence that these phones share the same Snap­dragon 625 pro­ces­sor, but the P2 one-ups with its 5,100mAh bat­tery. The P2 is half the price, but a pain to get hold of in the UK, so the Mo­tion is a fine al­ter­na­tive.

Black­Berry Mo­bile re­lent­lessly po­si­tions its hand­sets in the busi­ness mar­ket as pro­duc­tiv­ity tools, and the bat­tery life is a key part of this. But if you are an avid phone user who needs four hours of screen on time out of a sin­gle charge for video and mu­sic then the Mo­tion is a phone to con­sider, but the mid-range pro­ces­sor means high level gam­ing isn’t pos­si­ble.

Per­for­mance

Oddly, the Mo­tion re­fused to run our nor­mal Geek­bench 4 bench­mark tests (same as the KeyOne) so we ran An­tutu and GFXBench tests to com­pare the Mo­tion’s pure pro­cess­ing speeds to sim­i­lar de­vices.

The phone is also IP67 dust and wa­ter re­sis­tant, the first ever Black­Berry to be so. This means it’ll han­dle a down­pour or an ac­ci­den­tal sub­mer­sion with no is­sues. It’s an­other at­trac­tive ben­e­fit to pick­ing the Mo­tion over the KeyOne along­side the price and the in­crease in bat­tery life.

The Mo­tion did hic­cup a few times when we flipped be­tween apps, down­loaded them, or gen­eral tried to mul­ti­task like we might on a high-end de­vice. This is to be ex­pected, but as the Mo­tion is £399, it’s qui­etly creep­ing to­wards that arena. The Moto G5 Plus per­forms very sim­i­larly as the bench­marks show, and costs just £199.99.

At first glance, it looks like Black­Berry is sim­ply charg­ing £100 ex­tra for the phys­i­cal key­board of

the KeyOne, mean­ing un­less you’re ab­so­lutely set on that slice of typ­ing nos­tal­gia, the new Mo­tion will save you money and not com­pro­mise on any other specs.

Con­nec­tiv­ity and ex­tras

Call qual­ity is good, with a speaker that gets more than loud enough, and we used Blue­tooth head­phones and a Sam­sung Gear Fit2 Pro with no trou­ble over Blue­tooth 4.2. An­droid Pay (and other func­tions) are a go with NFC, too. Also wel­come are the in­cluded head­phones. They are above-av­er­age, in-ear buds in a slick black, but like the fin­ger­print sen­sor have un­sub­tle BB brand­ing.

Soft­ware

The Black­Berry Mo­tion ships with An­droid 7.1.2, and Black­Berry Mo­bile has con­firmed it will re­ceive Oreo ‘in the new year’ which is in­cred­i­bly open-ended, but good to hear.

As with its pre­vi­ous An­droid de­vices, Black­Berry’s skin over Google’s stock UI is quite util­i­tar­ian un­like the play­ful ver­sions found on OnePlus and even Sam­sung de­vices, but you may well pre­fer this.

We en­joyed the wid­get fea­tures where you swipe up on an app to quick-view your wid­get of choice right on the home screen rather than hav­ing to place a whole wid­get on there per­ma­nently. There’s also an app called Locker that hides con­tent in fin­ger­print-se­cured fold­ers if you don’t want peo­ple to ac­cess cer­tain files.

An op­tion in the cam­era is clever where you tap (not fully press) the fin­ger­print sen­sor to take

a photo and it goes di­rectly to the Locker app, by­pass­ing any cloud up­load you have. We found our­selves us­ing it more than we thought to store things like pass­port de­tails and re­ceipts.

As well as a Night Light fea­ture to turn down the blue tint after dark, there’s the DTEK suite of se­cu­rity prompts and de­cent fre­quency of se­cu­rity up­dates. My re­view de­vice ar­rived with a 6 Novem­ber 2017 se­cu­rity patch, which was mere days be­fore it landed on my desk. You’ll only find this speed of up­date else­where on a Pixel de­vice, and is a great rea­son to plump for the Mo­tion if you want reg­u­lar se­cu­rity patches (and you should, frankly). Con­sumers un­know­ingly walk around with An­droid de­vices with an­cient se­cu­rity patches, and Black­Berry Mo­bile should be com­mended for tak­ing the mat­ter se­ri­ously.

We also like the con­ve­nience key, which you can map to some­thing generic like to open the cam­era, or some­thing as spe­cific as new email to a spe­cific con­tact. You can also pin these types of gran­u­lar

com­mands to the home screen for quick, ef­fi­cient and usu­ally work-ori­ented tasks.

There are other neat in­te­grated fea­tures. We ini­tially thought the phys­i­cal home but­ton was a step back­wards in de­sign, but a tap of the but­ton (rather than a phys­i­cal press) acts as a back but­ton. Slightly odd as there is a back but­ton di­rectly to its left, but we found our­selves us­ing it all the same.

You can do all the tweaks to the OS that you’d ex­pect, but the skin doesn’t in­vite to cus­tomise as much as Sam­sung, OnePlus or Google. We get the feel­ing this is a phone to sim­ply set up, be se­cure and last for­ever on a charge. And that is not a bad thing.

If you’re a die-hard Black­Berry fan, you’ll also en­joy be­ing able to set app icons to the style of both the Black­Berry 10 and Black­Berry 7 op­er­at­ing sys­tems. It’s a small nod to the old com­pany’s past as is the Mo­tion’s name, surely a nod to Re­search in Mo­tion?

Ver­dict

The Black­Berry Mo­tion proves a dif­fi­cult de­vice to rate. It’s too big, and there’s not much to tempt a ca­sual smart­phone buyer here aside from out­stand­ing bat­tery life. It is too aus­tere and clunky even in com­par­i­son to the KeyOne, and won’t stand out in the £400 price bracket. Black­Berry isn’t a cool brand, but the Mo­tion has a huge bat­tery, a head­phone jack and a CPU that will just about cope with what you want it to do be­sides high level gam­ing. If the KeyOne was a come­back, the Mo­tion is just about a solid se­quel but there are phones like the Moto G5 Plus with sim­i­lar specs for half the price. Henry Bur­rell

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 5.5in (1920x1080, 401ppi) IPS dis­play • An­droid 7.1 Nougat • Qual­comm MSM8953 Snap­dragon 625 pro­ces­sor • Octa-core 2GHz Cor­tex-A53 • Adreno 506 GPU • 4GB RAM • 32GB stor­age, up to 256GB mi­croSD card slot • 12Mp, f/2.0, phase de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus, dual-LED

(dual tone) flash • 8Mp front-fac­ing cam­era • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi • Blue­tooth 4.2 • Fin­ger­print sen­sor • A-GPS, GLONASS • 4,000mAh lithium-ion bat­tery • 155.7x75. 4x8.1mm

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