A year after launching the DTEK50 and DTEK60 - which were essentially just Alcatel Idol clones - BlackBerry Mobile is back with something of its own flavour. The BlackBerry Motion is here in its big, keyboard-less glory.
Bold, unique and yet familiar looks
- 155.7 x 75.4 x 8.1 mm
- Kevlar-like weave soft-touch back
- IP67 water/dust resistance
While boiled down to its most basic description, it's a rectangle phone with a touchscreen, there's plenty about this phone to ensure you can't confuse it with any other. It somehow still retains that BlackBerry flavour. While different to the KeyOne in so many ways, its overall form is one that indicates the two are from the same family.
The two corners on the bottom of the phone are rounded, while the top corners are squared off, just like the KeyOne. Everything else, however, is different. Instead of having curved edges all the way around the sides and the bottom, the Motion only has one rounded edge, and that's the plastic edge at the top. The rest are flat metal with chamfered, angled edges on the front and back, and finished in an attractive dark grey.
Add this to the overall very solid feel of the device and the soft-touch kevlar-like effect on the back and you have a phone that looks and feels like a proper, serious phone. It's unique, and somehow still understated and classy.
Switching things up from the previous three Android BBerry phones, the power/sleep key is now on the right edge, just below the volume rocker. About an inch below that is the programmable Convenience key.
Because this key is easier to reach with the right thumb, we've found ourselves instinctively reaching for this, trying to use it as the power button. The fact it's textured doesn't help matters much. We feel this button should be on the other side to save confusion. Or, at the very least, the power button should be textured to indicate its prominence.
The one sticking point is the bottom bezel, or the "chin" of the phone. It's considerably larger proportionally than virtually any other phone, and seemingly for little reason. There's a small-ish rounded rectangle home button with a built in fingerprint sensor and - for better or worse - a BlackBerry logo on it, and this is flanked by the capacitive back and recent apps buttons.
On a phone which already has a large 5.5-inch display, you can only imagine how big that makes this phone. It's large. It's thicker, wider and taller than an iPhone 8 Plus, and comfortably overshadows the KeyOne, which has a built-in four-row physical keyboard.
One major plus this time around is the addition of water and dust resistance. It's IP67-rated which means it fits right alongside many of today's big-name flagship phones. With the included nano-diamond coating on the screen for scratch resistance, this phone should handle any of your regular mishaps.
Still, despite its size, it's a mostly great looking and great feeling phone. Its solid feel juxtaposed brilliantly with its surprisingly light weight in the hand. With a logo-less home button and a smaller chin it could be even better though.
Large screened goodness
- 5.5-inch IPS LCD panel
- Full HD 1080 x 1920 resolution
- Dragontrail glass
As displays go, there's nothing entirely incredible about the Motion's screen. It's your usual IPS LCD panel measuring 5.5-inches diagonally with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 and a standard 16:9 ratio.
Being LCD means you won't get those deep blacks, high contrast and saturated colours of OLED based displays. With that said, on first impressions, the screen seems nice enough. It's a little faded in comparison to AMOLED, but it still seems a good panel.
We flicked through a gallery of photos and watch a couple of videos on it and it comes with all the benefits you tend to see in IPS LCD panels. Colours are a little more accurate and whites are clean, while details look crisp and sharp at arm's length.
Efficiency, restraint and a big battery
- Snapdragon 625 processor
- 4GB RAM
- 4,000mAh battery
- Quick Charge 3.0/BlackBerry Boost for quick charging
Like its keyboard-equipped sibling, the Motion has a Snapdragon 625 processor, which may not be as powerful as either the Snapdragon 821 or 835, but for the kind of performance a BlackBerry needs, it's perfectly adequate. In fact, most phones we've tested with this chipset have held their own remarkably well over time.
We need to do more testing with this particular device, but previous experience suggests its should be fluid and smooth with only a slightly longer wait loading games and graphics compared to the more powerful smartphones. With 4GB RAM, 32GB storage and a microSD slot that supports up to 2TB, there's plenty of memory to go around as well.
Perhaps the biggest talking point is the battery. It's a 4,000mAh beast which - on a phone with a mid-range processor, and a full HD screen (rather than QuadHD) - should be enough to comfortably get even the heaviest user through a day.
In fact, BlackBerry claims this will get you through at least 32 hours away from a wall socket, and when it does need topping up you can make use of Quick Charge 3.0 support to get it filled up quickly. 40-ish minutes plugged in will get you from zero to 50 per cent battery. In a battery this capacious, that's decent.
Android Nougat with all the trimmings
- Android 7.1.2 Nougat
- BlackBerry Hub+
- Bespoke software keyboard
For those hoping for Oreo goodness in the latest BlackBerry, sadly that's not here yet, but the software offering here seems strong, as it always is. Rather than cover over Android with tons of unnecessary bloatware, BlackBerry has added its usual apps and interfaces which enhance, rather than detract from, Google's mobile OS.
Like the other BlackBerry Android phones, you get the Hub for managing notifications from multiple sources and accounts, as well as the DTEK app for managing your phone's security settings and app permissions.
There is one new element here called Locker, which gives you a protected folder to store images and documents privately. To access it you need to use a passcode, unlock pattern of scan your fingerprint.
Being physical keyboard-less means the company had to turn back to its software keyboard that saw its first iteration way back when the Z10 was launched. Like the hardware keyboard, it's versatile and designed for efficient typing.
Predictive words appear above letters on the keyboard, which you select by swiping upwards, just like previous years. But you can also access other interfaces within the keyboard, like the clipboard where copied objects appear, or a precision navigation mode for moving the cursor and selecting text to cut, copy, paste or correct.
Camera chops at last?
- 12MP camera with PDAF
- 4K video at 30fps
- Document/business card scanner
- 8MP front camera
There's an age-old stereotype with BlackBerry, and that's that cameras tend not to be the company's strong point. Things have improved considerably, especially with the KeyOne, but there's still some catching up to do before matching the flagships.
The important thing to note here perhaps is that the Motion - in price and specification - is a mid-range phone, so to expect a market leading camera would be unwise. With that said, this one should be more than adequate for snapping the odd photo or video to share with friends.
In this instance, there's a 12-megapixel "large pixel" camera equipped with a six element lens, f/2.0 aperture and phase detection autofocus. You also get a dual-tone LED flash and 4K video recording at 30fps. It has software features built-in for the business types, like the ability to detect and scan documents or business cards as well as the usual selection of shooting modes.
Switch to the front and you'll find the 8-megapixel f/2.2 front camera with its 84-degree wide angle field of view for capturing the immersive selfies. You also get panorama selfies and a multi-frame low light enhancement which takes several shots and uses the data to create a better low light image.
Both front and back cameras are equipped with electronic/digital photo and video stabilisation.
On first impressions there's plenty to like about the Motion. It's big, solid and has a touch of restrained class about it. BlackBerry is clearly trying to ensure it's made a touchscreen phone with all the perks business-types would expect from a BlackBerry, while being well-enough equipped to attract the average consumer.
There's enough about it, both visually and software-wise, to help keep it unique among the sea of mid-range glass rectangles. Although it still feels a little like it's designed for a relatively small niche of the market. And that's not a bad thing.
Time will tell if this holds up well against its similarly priced competitors, or its keyboard-equipped sibling. We'll be testing it over the coming days and weeks and bring you our full review then. Stay tuned. This could be an interesting one.