There is no real reason to get excited about the launch of a new BlackBerry, unless (like me) you're a smartphone geek who is fascinated by the brand's ongoing survival against the odds, or you're a diehard BlackBerry user looking to keep the faith.
Its seems though that a surprising number of people fall into the latter category, especially here in the Arabian Gulf, where the BlackBerry brand lives on even after the original company has stopped making devices. It’s no surprise then that the new touchscreen BlackBerry Motion - the second BlackBerry-branded device made under licence by TCL of China - had its official worldwide unveil at Gitex in Dubai in October.
The BlackBerry Motion, which retails for around Dh1,784, is a handset that’s not going to disappoint the brand’s fan base, even if it holds little for the rest of us. Its main selling points are the familiar suite of BlackBerry services and a superb battery life, while most of its other features are solid if uninspiring.
There’s nothing particularly remarkable about the Motion’s design; it has a fuss-free rubberised back with a rounded top edge, but mostly feels boxy and rather cheap. Given its size, it’s also a little awkward to handle, especially compared to newly slimmed flagships from Samsung, Apple and LG. On the plus size, It’s IP67 water resistant, meaning it should survive okay if you drop it in the bath or in your coffee.
The 5.5-inch LCD display is quite sharp but nothing special; likewise, its Snapdragon 625 processor is a bit weedy compared to the competition - even in its price bracket - but is good enough for most people’s requirements. The same goes for the fingerprint scanner, located on the front of the phone at the bottom.
The positive trade-off for an underpowered screen and processor comes with the Motion’s battery life, its main selling point. The lower power needs, combined with a whopping 4,000mAh battery, mean that you can comfortably get two days regular use, something that many phones promise but few actually deliver.
Naturally, the BlackBerry Motion has the standard BlackBerry features of last year’s KeyOne, such as BBM (it’s what we used instead of WhatsApp, kids) the BlackBerry Hub, and keyboard shortcuts (that aren’t as compelling on the Motion’s touchscreen) together with the Dtek security suite that enables you to get timely Android security patches.
There’s a new convenience key on the right hand side, that offers easy access to up to three functions of your choice, plus a new Locker mode, that lets you keep files and photos that you take in a more secure location.
Sadly those photos aren’t going to be particularly high quality; the 12MP primary camera is fine in regular light conditions, but images get blurry and dull in even slightly lower light conditions. The 8MP front-facing camera will give you only passable selfies; but let’s be honest, you’re not buying a BlackBerry for its selfie-prowess, are you?
In a world where there are plenty of very decent mid-range Android phones such as the Nokia 8 and the Sony Xperia XZ, the BlackBerry Motion doesn’t bring a lot of unique features to the table. But those that it does bring - the BlackBerry services known and loved by many, plus genuinely impressive battery life - are likely to keep the faithful coming back for more. While the rest of the world might have moved on, the Motion will keep BlackBerry fans more than satisfied.