The LG G6 and the BlackBerry KEYone were both launched earlier this year and, have received widespread praise from the media for what they represent. While the KEYone is the latest flagship smartphone from the Canadian company that was once the global leader in smartphones, the G6 is the sixth-generation G-series device from the South Korean electronics manufacturer that has been anything but boring with its smartphone designs as of late. While the former is a classic example of the physical QWERTY keypad done right, the latter is one of the most affordable flagships from LG in recent times. Both these devices have pretty much all the standard features you’d expect from premium Android smartphones circa 2017, but they also include a few quirky but novel design elements that add some specific functions to them. So which one is right for you if you’re in the market for a new smartphone? Let's find out!
The latest premium smartphone from LG Electronics may not have the cutting-edge hardware that many of its competitors boast of, but it's a perfectly-designed premium smartphone that ticks all the right boxes in terms of aesthetics, build quality and performance. What really makes the LG G6 stand out from many of the other flagships from tier-1 brands is its sensible price-tag that’s makes it significantly more affordable than devices like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Sony Xperia XZ Premium. The smartphone features a 5.7-inch IPS LCD QHD+ (2880 x 1440) display panel with an unusual 18:9 aspect ratio and, is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC that has an integrated quad-core application processor with two cores clocked at 1.6GHz and another two running at a maximum of 2.35GHz. The SoC also includes the Adreno 530 GPU for graphics. The handset packs 4GB of DDR4 RAM and either 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of native storage that’s expandable via a microSD card of up to 2TB in capacity.
The LG G6 comes with a dual-camera setup on the back, with the primary 13-megapixel sensor paired with an f/1.8 lens that has 3-axis OIS and PDAF, and is supported by a dual-tone LED flash. The additional rear-camera also comes with a 13-megapixel sensor, but it features a wide-angle 125-degree fixed focus lens with an f/2.4 aperture. However, the two cameras operate independently of one another, and users have the option to choose which sensor to use for which shot. On the front, the G6 offers a 5-megapixel sensor mated to an f/2.2 lens. While the rear-facing camera module can shoot 2160p videos at 30fps and 1080p videos at up to 60fps, the front-facing selfie-cam can only do 1080p videos at 30fps.
Unlike its predecessor, the LG G6 does away with the IR Blaster, but improves the battery to 3,300mAh, which is quite an upgrade over the anemic 2,800mAh unit found on the G5. You also get Quick Charge 3.0, thanks to the Snapdragon 821. Sensors include an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a proximity sensor, a magnetometer (e-compass) and a barometer. The phone also ships with an NFC chip and a rear-facing fingerprint scanner, which makes it compatible with mobile payment systems like Android Pay. In terms of software, the handset ships with Android 7.0 Nougat and is expected to receive Android O going forward. The device is also one of the few smartphones apart from the first-generation Pixel phones to ship with Google Assistant out-of-the-box. The LG G6 measures 148.9 mm in length, 71.9 mm in width and 7.9 mm in thickness while weighing in at 163 grams.
The one thing you need to remember before buying the LG G6, is that the device comes with a whole bunch of different configurations for different markets, so while Qi wireless charging is a U.S.-specific feature that isn’t available elsewhere around the world, the much-hyped 32-bit Quad DAC is exclusively available in South Korea and a few other countries in Asia. FM Radio is also one such feature that’s only available in a few markets. The amount of native storage on offer also differs from one region to another. While the company offers a 64GB version of the phone in South Korea, Hong Kong, India and a few of the CIS nations, only the 32GB version was originally earmarked for the North American market. However, the company has since rectified that anomaly by announcing the LG G6+ that comes with 128GB of storage, alongside the Hi-Fidelity Quad DAC audio and Qi wireless charging in all markets.
We all remember the time when owning a BlackBerry device was the ultimate status symbol. However, that changed seemingly overnight in 2007 when Apple introduced its first-generation iPhone. As if the onslaught from Apple wasn’t bad enough, the subsequent rise of Android was yet another blow to the desirability factor of the BlackBerry, and the company’s market-share soon started reflecting the changing world-order. Sadly, BlackBerry was slow to react to the fast-changing smartphone industry, and as a result, has suffered a phenomenal slump in market-share over the past decade. The company finally embraced Android a couple years ago with the launch of the PRIV, the very first Android-based smartphone from the company. While that device didn’t quite do as well commercially as BlackBerry would have hoped for, the company’s latest handset, the BlackBerry KEYone, has reportedly been faring significantly better.
The BlackBerry KEYone comes with an all-metal construction with curved edges on all four sides and a soft-touch rubberized back for better grip. However, the USP of the device is its physical QWERTY keyboard that makes it stand apart from a sea of touchscreen smartphones that come with the glass-slab form-factor. The KEYone features a relatively-small 4.5-inch IPS LCD display to accommodate the QWERTY keypad. The screen has an odd 3:2 aspect ratio and, comes with a resolution of 1620 x 1080 pixels. The device is powered by the Snapdragon 625 SoC, which comes with an integrated octa-core Cortex-A53 CPU clocked at 2.0GHz, and an Adreno 506 GPU clocked at 650MHz. The KEYone uses 3GB of DDR4 RAM and 32GB of built-in storage that is expandable via a microSD card of up to 256GB in capacity. The battery on the device is a non-removable 3,505mAh Li-Ion unit with support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0. On the software side of things, the device runs an almost pure version of Android 7.1 Nougat out-of-the-box.
Another remarkable feature about the BlackBerry KEYone is that it uses the exact same 12-megapixel sensor that can be found on the Google Pixel and the Pixel XL. It has an f/2.0 aperture, phase detection auto-focus (PDAF) and a dual-tone LED flash. The front-facing camera comes with an 8-megapixel sensor and an f/2.2 lens.The phone also comes with a customizable ‘Convenience Key’ below the volume rocker on the right side, just like the DTEK50 and the DTEK60 before it. The device also ships with a fingerprint scanner that’s embedded in the space bar of the physical keypad. The phone measures 149.1mm in length. 72.4mm in width and 9.4mm in thickness, while weighing in at 180 grams.
Any discussion on the BlackBerry KEYone remains incomplete without deliberating on probably the most important part of the package – the physical QWERTY keypad. It is not for everybody, but it adds a novelty factor to the device and is definitely its USP in an era when smartphone vendors have moved away from physical keypads to concentrate almost entirely on the full-touchscreen form-factor. While some will still view the keypad as the symbol of a true BlackBerry smartphone, others will summarily dismiss it as a relic of the past that has outlived its utility. Whichever camp you’re in, the fact still remains that there was a strong demand from a large section of the BlackBerry community for the company to get back to its QWERTY roots, and that’s exactly what this device managed to do. After less-than-impressive attempts at incorporating a physical QWERTY keyboard in devices like the PRIV, the KEYone is a classic example of the QWERTY keypad done right.
And The Winner Is ...
The Final Word
The BlackBerry KEYone and the LG G6 are both excellent smartphones in terms of what they each represent. However, they are also targeted at completely different sets of buyers. Both devices have their own pros and cons, but the LG G6 wins this one because in spite of its quirks, it still appeals to a much larger target audience than its competitor. It is a nice, well-rounded smartphone that isn’t completely without its flaws, but is certainly worth a look if you want a premium device from a tier-1 brand without having to pay an arm and a leg for it. On the other hand, the KEYone comes with an almost-perfect implementation of a physical QWERTY keyboard on an Android smartphone, and is a must-buy for long-time BlackBerry aficionados who have been lamenting all this while about the lack of high-quality QWERTY devices from the company.