Phone Comparisons: BlackBerry KEYone vs Moto G5 Plus

Introduction

Do we have a good one for you today – the new BlackBerry KEYone takes on the most popular model of phone that Motorola has ever sold – the Moto G5 Plus – even surpassing their previous record breaking Motorola RAZR. BlackBerry has finally produced the smartphone many have been waiting for that includes both the original physical keyboard and security that made BlackBerry so famous. The Moto G5 Plus is more or less an updated G4 that morphed from a 4.5-inch display to a 5.5-inch display and is now back to a 5.2-inch display with the physical look of their new Moto Z series. Both of these devices will work on all major US networks, but the Moto G5 Plus model coming to the US, does not have an NFC chip. Let’s look at just what these two devices have in common, if anything, and then we will take a closer look at each one in hopes that we can determine a winner of this comparison.

Despite their differences, we can find much common ground between the BlackBerry KEYone and the Moto G5 Plus. The displays of the two devices are 0.7-inch different in size, but the larger G5 Plus is almost the same in physical size – due to the KEYone’s physical keyboard – but weighs in at 25 grams lighter than the KEYone. Both displays use the same LCD technology, the same resolution, and different Gorilla Glass for protection. They both use the same Snapdragon 625 processor and the Adreno 506 GPU for graphics. They both pack the same amounts of internal storage (32GB), and both can expand its memory via a microSD card. The primary camera areas both use a 12MP camera and the front-facing camera (FFC) areas are not too different with the KEYone using an 8MP lens and the G5 Plus using a 5MP lens. Both have a front mounted fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device, but only the BlackBerry KEYone has NFC for authorizing mobile payments, including Android Pay. They both use a non-removable battery, and both have rapid charge capabilities. They come with the usual suspects – WiFi, Bluetooth v4.2, GPS, NFC (KEYone only), and the newer reversible Type-C port for charging and data transfer on the BlackBerry KEYone, but the older styled microUSB 2.0 on the G5 Plus.

Please take a thoughtful look at the detailed Specifications Comparison chart below, and here you will see just how these two great devices stack up against one another – click on the “View Full Comparison” link at the end of the chart to expand the details. After that, we will look at each device in greater depth and point out some of its pros and cons. From all of this information, we will try to determine the winner based on specs and execution of design and functions.

Specifications

BlackBerry KEYone

BlackBerry, at one time, had everything going for it except for a visionary heading the company that ultimately caused their demise. They had a reputation for building the most secure headset around and having the best physical keyboard of any smartphone. We are happy to say that their new KEYone is the best smartphone BlackBerry has ever made. While most users would consider it a midrange device, right now it is BlackBerry’s flagship. It is a well-built and solid device manufactured for BlackBerry by TCL. It is an all-metal construction with curved edges all around for easy handling and a nice soft-touch backing for a firm grip. On the back, the camera sits in the upper left corner and has a slight bulge to it. Let’s see if BlackBerry did enough to their new KEYone and just how it stacks up to the Moto G5 Plus – another midrange smartphone with a much friendly price tag.

BlackBerry went with a smaller 4.5-inch display size to accommodate room for the physical keyboard. This IPS LCD Full HD resolution of 1620 x 1080 pixels allows for a nice 424 pixels-per-inch (PPI). BlackBerry snatched up the same 64-bit Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor used in the Moto G5 Plus. It too is clocked at 2.0GHz and uses the Adreno 506 GPU. Like the G5 Plus, the KEYone runs almost a pure vanilla Android so the processor has plenty of muscle and speed while the Adreno 506 is very capable in the graphics department. The KEYone uses only 3GB of DDR4 RAM and 32GB of internal memory that is expandable via a microSD card. But remembering it runs almost pure Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box, 3GB was more than enough RAM and our review backs this up.

The BlackBerry KEYone uses the same 12MP primary camera found on the Google Pixel models, and this is a good thing. It has an f/2.0 aperture, Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF), and a dual-tone LCD flash. The FFC is a large 8MP sensor with a smaller f/2.2 aperture for selfies and video chatting. Our review shows the pictures should make most every day users happy. A rather large 3505mAh battery will provide all day power and it comes with Quick Charge 3.0 for rapid charging that will give you a 50-percent charge in 30 minutes.

BlackBerry was able to incorporate the fingerprint sensor on the front in the ‘space bar’ of the physical keyboard. While the spacebar does not allow for any shortcut swiping, the keyboard itself has over 52 shortcuts making it easy to jump to different places. BlackBerry also has a ‘Convenience Key’ on the right that is programmable and can be quite a ‘convenience’ to use. It also comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack and set of earbuds in the box and packs an FM radio. The BlackBerry KEYone measures 149.1 x 72.4 x 9.4 mm and weighs in at 180 grams, and comes in our favorite color, Black. The 3GB/32GB device is available for about $549.

Moto G5 Plus

Although the Moto G5 Plus does not look too much different from its predecessor, the G4 Plus, Motorola did a little redesigning and updating to its most popular device it has ever sold. The outside morphed a little to look like their popular Moto Z series with a smaller earpiece, but with a larger rectangular fingerprint sensor – probably to make it easier to swipe left or right on the pad. On the back, the camera took on the look of the Z series with a large, round protruding ring. The 5G Plus uses a new all-metal backing that uses a small amount of plastic blended into the top and bottom of the device to allow the antenna to pass signals through the body. Moto decreased the display from 5.5-inches to 5.2-inches and the camera from 16MP to 12MP, but kept the same 5MP FFC. Let’s see if Moto did enough to their Moto G5 Plus and see just how it stacks up to the BlackBerry KEYone.

Moto is saving its 5.5-inch displays for its flagship devices so they decreased the display size on the Moto G5 from 5.5-inches to 5.2-inches. This results in the G5 Plus’s IPS LCD Full HD display having a respectable 424 PPI. Moto made a great choice in using the 64-bit Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor clocked at 2.0GHz and pairing it with the Adreno 506 GPU. For a device that runs almost pure Android, the processor has plenty of power and speed for the G5 Plus and the Adreno 506 can handle any graphics you throw its way. The Moto G5 Plus packs 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 64GB of internal memory that is expandable via a microSD card. You can also get a 2GB/32GB variant, but for the extra few dollars, the 4GB/64GB is money well spent.

The Moto G5 Plus has a 12MP primary camera with a large f/1.7 aperture, autofocus, and dual-tone LCD flash. The FFC is a 5MP sensor with a smaller f/2.2 aperture for selfies and video chatting. Nothing too fancy, but what do you expect from a sub-$250 smartphone – daytime pictures are excellent, but without OIS, pictures taken in lowlight are not so excellent, but overall, the camera should make most every day users happy. A non-removable 3000mAh battery provides the power and it comes with the Motorola Turbo Charger for quick charges.

Motorola did a great job in redesigning the new G5 Plus – nothing fancy, mind you, but this is an entry-level smartphone. The biggest disappointment is that the US version has no NFC capabilities, which seems rather strange, but Moto says the US is slow at adopting mobile payments. I guess it never occurred to them that consumer devices have to employ that capability before they can embrace mobile payments. Moto kept the fingerprint sensor on the front, but made it a little wider for swiping. If you swipe you finger on the button to the right it will open up your recent stops, if you swipe to the left, that is your back key. These can be reassigned in the settings. This makes full use of the smaller 5.2-inch display for your viewing pleasure. There is also a built-in FM radio. The Moto G5 Plus measures 150.2 x 74 x 7.7 mm, weighs in at 155 grams, and comes in Lunar Grey and Fine Gold. The device is available for about $229 for the 2GB/32GB model (not sold in the US) and about $279 for the 4GB/64GB model.

...And The Winner Is...

The Final Word

As much as I would like to pick this sweet new BlackBerry as the winner of this comparison – good conscious will not allow me. The Moto G5 Plus has the same processor, more RAM, more memory, a larger display, and a much smaller price tag of $279 versus $549.

The BlackBerry KEYone does have a physical keyboard, but it is hard to gauge just how many people want to go back to that mode of typing after years of onscreen keypads. It does have an excellent camera, but the G5 Plus does pretty well in that department as well. It does have a NFC chip, but has a smaller display, less RAM, less base memory, but does pack a larger battery…but then, the Moto G5 Plus offers their Turbo Charger. At a price of $549, you are paying a premium for the physical keyboard and the BlackBerry name.

Both devices are well built and solid and depending on your needs, should satisfy their owners. If you really want a bargain and are willing to give up mobile purchases, then the $279 Moto G5 Plus is your ticket to happiness. If you are an old BlackBerry aficionado and have longed for the return of BlackBerry, their signature physical keyboard, and do not mind paying the extra money, then the KEYone is one sweet berry.

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