The BlackBerry Motion is a purpose-driven smartphone designed to get you through your day, help you do more and do it effortlessly. In that mission, it succeeds, with enough juice left to enjoy your downtime.
The quick take
The BlackBerry Motion is the second device to come from the TCL/BlackBerry partnership and follows the award-winning BlackBerry KEYone. The Motion shares much of the KEYone lineage but brings a few new tricks into the mix as well such as the new Smart Convenience Key and, Locker Mode, which helps keep your photos, documents, and files secure.
Overall, the BlackBerry Motion is a fantastic addition to the BlackBerry Mobile lineup. Not only does it offer those new to the BlackBerry experience a compelling smartphone but it brings to those possibly hanging onto older BlackBerry 10 full-touch devices a nice upgrade path to a more modern smartphone that follows the BlackBerry ethos of security, privacy, productivity, and efficiency with as few compromises as possible.
- Great battery life, gets you through your day easily and then some
- Solid, durable build quality
- Fingerprint Sensor is fast and accurate
- 3.5mm headphone jack, no dongle life here
- 4GB of RAM
- IP67 rated for water and dust resistence
- Anti-Scratch display is great but makes it a fingerprint magnet
- Button placement takes some getting used to
- LCD display could be better
- Camera not improved from KEYone
- Mono speaker array
- That chin. Could have trimmed a bit more off
BlackBerry Motion Hardware
Coming off of the BlackBerry KEYone and BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition, I wasn't too sure how I would feel about the BlackBerry Motion given the KEYone series had finally renewed my love for QWERTY smartphones thanks to it being a beautiful, BlackBerry-worthy implementation of the keyboard but after a few minutes of unboxing and playing with the Motion after set up, I was quickly reminded that I have always been a person who can easily swap between keys and a full-touch device.
Unlike some folks out there, I don't subscribe to the idea that in order to truly be a BlackBerry, a device has to have a QWERTY keyboard. At the end of the day, I think what makes BlackBerry is whether or not the device hits the targets of having great battery life, offers additional security and privacy options and helps me get through my day by offering non-standard productivity and efficiency features. In all those areas, Motion ticks off the boxes.
Speaking of boxes, the BlackBerry Motion comes packaged up rather nicely in a magnetic box with all the usual goodies such as your travel charger, USB cable, quick start guides and warranty info. Additionally, you also get a set of headphones and normally, I'd tell you just to toss them aside, but with the Motion, you get the BlackBerry WH35 headset which is pretty good as far as in-box headsets go. Seriously, hang onto them and try them out at some point.
Once you lift the Motion out of the box, the first thing you're going to notice is the weight which comes in at 167g / 5.89 oz. For reference, that's lighter than the KEYone which comes in at 180g / 6.34 oz, but the Motion feels as solid as the KEYone, just a little lighter. Powering on Motion, you'll notice the placement of buttons has been moved around from previous devices. Everything now is on the right-hand side, the volume up and down rockers, power button and the new Smart Convenience key. All of the buttons are nice and clicky in my experience, but I will say, with everything on the right-side, it does take some getting used to the button placement. You'll likely hit the wrong button a few times until you get used to it.
Powering on Motion, you'll notice the placement of buttons has been moved around from previous devices.
Once powered on, you're presented with a 1920x1080, 5.5-Inch display that amounts to 403PPI with a standard 16:9 aspect ratio. The display is nice and bright and can be adjusted through the Adaptive display and Screen Mode options if you're looking to get deep into it. In my experience, it faired well in direct sunlight but will require bumping up the brightness which will impact the battery life slightly, so consider that. Overall, the display is a fairly standard LCD and while I never had any moments where I said to myself 'I wish the display was brighter!' there are times I noticed things felt a little bit darker, perhaps a little more 'washed' than they should have appeared, keeping in mind I was using my KEYone as a reference point.
Also on the front of the Motion is that BlackBerry branded fingerprint sensor. Yes, the BlackBerry badging has made its return, so anyone who had issues with the lack of BlackBerry branding on the front should be happy here. That said, the days of slow fingerprint sensors is largely over, so the fingerprint sensor on the Motion is fast and accurate. Aside from the BlackBerry logo being added, the fingerprint sensor has gained a few other things as well. You can now use it to bring down the Android notification shade to quickly glance at your most recent notifications plus; it also doubles as a camera shutter button when in the Camera for Locker Mode.
Yes, the BlackBerry badging has made its return, so anyone who had issues with the lack of BlackBerry branding on the front should be happy here.
Up top and on the front, the basic expectations are in place. You'll find the 8MP fixed-focus, f2.2 front-facing camera capable of 1080p HD video recording at 30FPS and wide selfie shots with an integrated flash. We'll get to more on the cameras later, but alongside the front-facing camera you have your ambient light sensor, and RGB LED notification indicator for those of you out there who simply cannot live without the blinking red light. If you go to the very top of the Motion, there's nothing but a speaker hole, which helps with the clean line approach to the design. Just uhh, don't stick your SIM removal tool in there. To access the SIM card and SD Card slot, you'll have to head to the left-hand side of the Motion which houses nothing but the SIM and SD tray. Here is where to start to notice the IP67 water-resistance that the Motion has as the SIM tray may be a little harder to get out as it now has a rubber o-ring in place to keep out water.
Flipping the Motion over and taking a look at the back, you'll see the laser etched BlackBerry logo coupled with a nice soft touch coating for improved grip and comfort, reminiscent of previous devices with the carbon fiber look. The back also features the 12MP auto-focus large pixel camera with dual-tone led flash, capable of shooting up to 4K video recording at 30FPS with its Phase Detect Auto Focus (PDAF) 6-element f2.0 lens.
BlackBerry Motion Specs and Features
|Operating System||Android 7.1.2 Nougat (Oreo coming in the new year)|
Nano-diamond anti-scratch coating
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
Adreno 506 GPU
|Expandable||microSD up to 2TB|
|Rear Camera||12MP (1.55 micron) f/2.0, PDAF
dual-tone LED flash
HDR, 4K, 30fps
|Front Camera||8MP f/2.2
|Charging||Quick Charge 3.0
|Water resistance||Yes, IP67|
|Security||DTEK security suite
FIPS 140-2 Full Disk Encryption
Android For Work, Google Play for Work
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11ac, 5GHz, Bluetooth 4.2 LE, NFC
|BBD100-1||LTE Home: B1/ 3/ 7/8/20/26/28/32/38/40/41
LTE Roaming: B2/4/5/12/13/17/19/39
|BBD100-2||LTE Home: B2/4/5/7/12/13/17/29/30/66
LTE Roaming: B1/3/8//20/28/38/39/40/41
|BBD100-6||LTE Home: B1/ 3/ 7/8/20/26/28/32/38/40/41
LTE Roaming: B2/4/5/12/13/17/19/39
Dual SIM capability
|Dimensions||155.7 mm x 75.4 mm x 8.13 mm|
|Weight||167g / 5.89 oz|
Some Neat Tricks
BlackBerry Motion Software
Given that the BlackBerry Motion is technically the sixth device released running BlackBerry Secure Android; it's safe to say they have a handle on the Android experience now and it shows on the BlackBerry Motion. Since the release of the BlackBerry Priv, BlackBerry apps such as the Hub, Password Keeper, and DTEK have all received new features and improvements. Plus, newer apps have been added such as BlackBerry Notable, as well as Privacy Shade. None of these particular apps are new if you're already using an Android-based BackBerry but Motion does have a few new built-in additions as well, more on those further down.
I'm not going to break down every BlackBerry app, we've done that enough already in the past with previous devices, but I'll give you the quick rundown of them, so you know each is offering if you're not already using an Android-based BlackBerry. For the most part, the Motion is running a pretty stock experience with Android 7.1.2 Nougat out of the box, but these apps add to the BlackBerry experience and have all designed around, security, privacy, and productivity. You'll get some carrier apps if you purchase the device from a carrier but other than that, the only app I noticed that some folks might consider bloat, was Amazon. Which to me doesn't count as bloat, I love Amazon and would have loaded it anyway.
- BlackBerry Hub - This unified inbox is an irreplaceable tool for consolidating all of your messages in one place – whether it's email, calendar, social or phone calls. The Hub seamlessly integrates notifications from apps like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Instagram, and many others to allow you to manage important notifications and view your communication history.
- BlackBerry Keyboard - If you're going to use a smartphone that doesn't have a physical keyboard, then having the BlackBerry Keyboard app is the next best thing and that's no different on the Motion. BlackBerry's virtual keyboard is still one among the best out there and is constantly being improved with new features and enhancements such as keyboard extensions and SlideBoard.
- BlackBerry Privacy Shade - Privacy Shade prevents people around you from seeing your screen by blocking out everything except for a small view area that you control, while still letting you interact with the full screen.
- DTEK by BlackBerry - DTEK is built for security monitoring. The app suggests best practices to maximize security and gives you oversight into what your apps are doing with the various permissions you allow. Did an app access your microphone without you knowing? DTEK will know and alert you when enabled.
- BlackBerry Notable - Allows you to capture screenshots and instantly mark up the content using text, stickers, and more and share it with your contacts. Great for highlighting portions of an image, creating simple photo collages and more!
- BlackBerry Password Keeper - The BlackBerry Password Keeper application allows you to keep all of your passwords, login information, and important records safe and secure. Your information is encrypted using AES-256 and protected by a single password of your choice.
- BlackBerry Contacts - BlackBerry Contacts stores all your contact info in one location for convenient management. You can interact with your contacts using a variety of methods such as phone calls, text and email messages, or calendar events directly from the Contacts app. You can also create and manage contact groups.
- Notes by BlackBerry - With BlackBerry Notes, you can keep track of your to-do list, ideas, and more. Notes have an automatic setup feature for popular email services including Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange.
- Tasks by BlackBerry - Have a deadline you need to be reminded of? BlackBerry Tasks is the app for that allowing you to set due dates and reminders without needing to download a separate app. It's right there for you.
- BlackBerry Productivity Tab - A lot of people have asked, and yes, the BlackBerry Productivity Tab is still present on Motion. If you're not familiar with the app, taps into Hub, Calendar, Tasks and Contacts and provides you with an 'at a glance' look at what's happening on without needing to open each app individually. If you see an item that needs action, you can launch it right from the Productivity Tab.
- BlackBerry Power Center - BlackBerry Power Center is a great app that is probably overlooked by many. With Power Centre, you can view how much battery each app is using and control and optimize any apps that appear to be power hungry. The control can be broken down by brightness, resolution, and framerate, and more. Additionally, like DTEK, it also offers best practices advice for saving battery.
With Motion, the improvements and enhancements continue with the introduction of the Smart Convenience Key that adds onto what we already know and love the BlackBerry Convenience Key to be. Rather than having it locked down to one singular function, the introduction of the Smart Convenience Key offers Motion users the ability to create profiles such as Car, Meeting, and Home.
This vastly improves the usefulness of the regular Convenience Key.
Within those profiles, you can put up to three shortcuts allowing you to quickly and easily access the apps you need. This vastly improves the usefulness of the regular Convenience Key. In the first couple of days with the Motion, I became obsessed with changing the options around, but after a few days I found what worked for me in each of the scenarios and now I hope it's a feature that eventually becomes standard across all BlackBerry Mobile devices.
In addition to the Smart Convenience Key, there have also been several additions by way of the camera and file management focused on security and productivity. Locker is a new file management feature, which allows you to hide photos and documents so that people looking at your phone cannot access them. Locker works in conjunction with Locker Mode, which allows you take pictures with the fingerprint sensor which are automatically moved to your Locker, and never uploaded to Google Photos, Google Drive or any other cloud.
In order to gain access to Locker, you need to know the PIN or provide the fingerprint set up on the Motion and for Locker Mode, if you wish to snap any pics and have them sent directly to your Locker, all you have to do is fire up the camera app and instead of using the regular shutter button on screen, place your finger on the fingerprint sensor and it will take a private photo.
Locker Mode allows you take pictures with the fingerprint sensor which are automatically moved to your Locker, encrypted and never uploaded to Google Photos, Google Drive or any other cloud.
Other enhancements surrounding the camera include the ability to snaps pics of business cards, PowerPoint presentations, whiteboards, and Word documents. Normally, as one of the great things about Android and BlackBerry Smartphones now running Android, I would say 'there are apps for that!' and there is but here it's built in. Although I didn't test any whiteboards, the scan feature worked well for business cards allowing me to directly create a contact after scanning and documents worked great, even providing options for cropping the image for better results once the image was captured.
For the fact hunters among you, the integration is making use of CamCard and CamScanner, those are the apps that can be found on the Google Play Store for this but alas, having the integration right in the camera app itself was a solid choice for the Motion versus just preloading the apps individually. This way, business users will be able to use the features without needing to load up Google Play which they might be restricted from accessing.
Finally, because I know, it was asked for by many folks. The BlackBerry Motion comes pre-loaded with its own, user-facing file manager app simply called Files. The Files app, as expected from a file manager, allows you to view your recent files, downloads, documents, audio, pictures, videos and more. Additionally, you can also access your internal storage as well as your SD card from within the app. All the basic functions are here and in place, you can even rename, move, lock and view the details for each file, so it's a step above a 'basic' file manager app, you can even ZIP and unzip files if that's your jive. It always seemed a bit silly for BlackBerry to not have a real user-facing file manager. Sure, you can download one, but it's a simple addition, so I'm glad to see that that has been addressed here on Motion.
It Just Keeps Going
BlackBerry Motion Battery
When the BlackBerry KEYone was released it came with the largest battery ever put in a BlackBerry at that time, a massive 3505mAh, which when coupled with the energy-efficient Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset and Quick Charge 3.0 meant the KEYone was never going to leave you high and dry with a dead battery.
For the BlackBerry Motion, once again we're looking at the largest battery ever put in a BlackBerry at 4000mAh.
For the BlackBerry Motion, once again we're looking at the largest battery ever put in a BlackBerry coupled with Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 chipset and Quick Charge 3.0 only this time around the battery comes in at a 4000mAh, good for 32+ hours with mixed use. The emphasis there being on the plus, because depending on your usage, you can squeeze well into 48 hours out of the BlackBerry Motion.
For a while now, I have maintained that any phone that can get me through the day was 'good enough' and any phone that could get me through my day and into the next day long enough for me to wake up and hit a charger was great, but the KEYone and Motion have caused me to up my standards a bit more. Now, I want every phone to handle two days straight of my usage.
I hear you, you're probably asking what kind of screen on time I'm getting and am I really using the Motion. Most days, I'm hitting around 6 hours or so screen on time and of course, everyone's usage is going to differ depending on network, area and so much more but if for some reason you're not seeing the battery life I am, there's always that Quick Charge 3.0 that's built in for a quick hit of juice and like KEYone, there's Boost Mode which enables charging up to 50% in 40 minutes.
Point And Shoot
BlackBerry Motion Camera
Looking at the camera specs of the BlackBerry Motion you would be forgiven for assuming it's running the exact same internals as the KEYone, which would be a good thing considering the camera on the KEYone is pretty great, but unfortunately, numbers don't always tell the full story, and that's the case here. Although the hardware BlackBerry Mobile is using in the Motion remains unknown, in my testing it still produced what I would consider acceptable results for a communication driven smartphone.
That is to say, it will work fine for your Instagram, Snapchat, and quick Twitter shots or if you're using the device for business, it'll work fine for sending photos to clients and so forth. However, it needs to be said. It's a step back from what is found on the KEYone, and I don't think anyone will be making comparisons to the iPhone or Pixel 2 anytime soon, that would just be silly.
Looking at the camera specs of the BlackBerry Motion you would be forgiven for assuming it's running the exact same internals as the KEYone.
Perhaps my biggest issue with the camera, other than it not being on par with the KEYone shooter, is the fact it CAN take some great shots, but it's not consistently great. You can take one shot, and it'll be awesome, but taking another shot in the same conditions and things don't pop the way they should.
I'll spare you any lines suggesting that maybe it can be addressed in a future update or anything like that because really, it's not as if it's downright unacceptable. It's just acceptable and doesn't go beyond that and I'm willing to accept that when you consider the price and overall package. In any case, go ahead and take a look through some sample shots I've provided below. I even took a somewhat rare selfie for you all to show off the front-facing camera, which is line with the rear-facing camera -- acceptable.
Built To Last
BlackBerry Motion Experience
When I first picked up the Motion, I wasn't sure if I wanted to dive back into a keyboardless world. Months of using the BlackBerry KEYone and being extremely satisfied with it renewed my love for the keyboards. After a weekend with the Motion, I was asked which I preferred more, KEYone or Motion and at that time I honestly didn't know. I was still developing an opinion on it, and even now, I don't know if I have an answer for which I prefer. They both have a lot of nice features.
Aside from the new additions such as Locker, Locker Mode, and the Files app, the Motion has a few other gems packed into the software such as glove mode for the winter, the fingerprint sensor can be configured for even further use such as pulling down notifications and tapping to go back to a previous window /app, plus, there's that large display that the KEYone just doesn't allow for. I didn't miss the display using the KEYone, but there's a comfort there in having it on the Motion.
Do I miss the keyboard? Kind of. But the thing here is that the BlackBerry Keyboard app is so good that it really does help move you away from physical keyboards, maybe not all the way for some folks but it certainly helps, and using the Motion reminded me of that.
Among the software enhancements on Motion that are not (currently?) available on the KEYone, the Motion also has the larger battery. I've tried reasoning that by saying it all balances out as the Motion display is larger but that doesn't really calculate either. The Motion consistently outdoes the KEYone in regards to battery life, and the KEYone is already great at that. If battery life is your top concern and nothing else, Motion is the way to go.
I think I'm having such a hard time picking a preferred device because they're so close to each other that it really does come down to the few software enhancements, battery life, and the physical keyboard as the key differences between the two. The overall experience when weighed out is much the same, even when it comes to apps, but I will say that for some reason, the Motion feels a little bit faster than the KEYone (more specifically Black Edition), despite using the same processor.
I've tossed out some totally unscientific thoughts there postulating that perhaps the software the KEYone needs to facilitate the keyboard adds some 'weight' to the processor, but again, that's totally unscientific. Overall, the Motion runs everything smoothly, and I really don't have any issues with the fact BlackBerry Mobile went with similar hardware on the Motion. Honestly, the KEYone has proven that the purposefully chosen hardware and software combination works and works well., they've just transitioned it to the Motion.
I suppose the 'Experience' section is a great place to address a few things that have become common chatter among KEYone users as folks are surely wondering if some of the same issues are also present on Motion. I've had no issues of any sort with network connectivity or signal on the Motion. I'm on the latest software release for Motion with the November patch, running it on the Rogers network and have never run into any issues. Calls all sound great, and the signal has never dropped into any unexpected areas. I've also tried several cases and hand-positions to see if I could cause signal drops and was not able to make it happen.
I don't really want to ramble on and bore everyone, but let me just say that overall, the BlackBerry Motion is a solid device, with incredible battery life, some neat software enhancements that differentiate it from other slabs out there on the market and since it runs Android, you have access to all the apps the Google Play Store offers up. Along with the security enhancements and monthly updates, the BlackBerry Motion will be upgraded to Android 8 Oreo in the new year, and when you consider the entire package, it's a compelling offering from BlackBerry Mobile.
Should you buy it?
BlackBerry Motion Bottom line
Rather than offering one bottom line here, this time around we've decided to offer two opinions on the BlackBerry Motion. One from Bla1ze, and one from CBK, who has also been using the Motion for several weeks now.
Personally, I see the Motion as a great device for those who might still be hanging onto older full-touch BlackBerry 10 Smartphones. John Chen noted at the recent BlackBerry Summit, that there are 8 million BlackBerry devices in the market still. Surely, some of those are full-touch BlackBerry 10 devices. If you're not into physical keyboards and skipped the BlackBerry KEYone, the Motion is a great option to jump into the Android world while still maintaining as much of the BlackBerry experience as possible.
That said, I don't want to imply that the Motion has no other audiences either. As I noted in the experience section, the Motion is a great overall device that has a lot to offer. In my usage, I haven't really found a reason to not recommend it if you're looking for a well rounded, durable smartphone that's made for the real world and how real people use their phones.
When you consider the entire package and the fact that most carriers are offering it at $0 with contract and at $599 CAD without, it's a pretty easy recommendation. Should you live in any of the other regions where Motion has rolled out such as the UK or Germany, you're looking at £399.00/€449.90 outright but most there are also special offers in place in those regions as well to bring the pricing down with contracts.
I think it makes sense for there to be a full touchscreen compliment to the KEYone - we live in a world where there are now far more smartphone users who have never used a physical keyboard before and only know typing on glass. Not offering a full-touch BlackBerry would be limiting the potential market BlackBerry can go after. As much the KEYone is the device that got me back on BlackBerry, and I'm now re-addicted to the physical, not everyone wants to push buttons.
I really like the direction Motion is going in defining what an all-touch BlackBerry stands for. Everybody gets a BlackBerry with a physical keyboard - no further explanation required. When it comes to all-touch phones there is no shortage of options from which to choose. Motion ushers in this idea of a phone that's life proof - or built for everyday REAL life. I totally buy into this. Awesome battery life, water and dust resistance and a scratch-proof display wrapped up in an industrial design that looks and feels much more BlackBerry as compared to its DTEK predecessors. The Motion feels like a worthy successor to the Z30.
Performance-wise, the Motion feels a little snappier than the KEYone (which runs pretty snappy as is) despite the specs being largely the same. And it's well priced. You can literally buy two Motions -- and some accessories and have some change leftover --- for the price of an iPhone X. For price conscious consumers and businesses, the Motion delivers well on price.
That said, I've spoken to many BlackBerry users who are not price conscious at all and would love to see the next all-touch BlackBerry jump up from mid-range smartphone back into flagship territory. I'd love to see this too - while adhering to this idea of being built for real life. The recent BlackBerry Concept fan design got the CrackBerry community excited for good reason. We might eventually get there but the Motion is here now and it's solid and if you pick one up you're likely going to be more than satisfied with the performance (and let's be serious... the private photo locker alone is reason enough to buy). :)