BlackBerry Evolve X first impressions: New smartphone, old hardware

BlackBerry Evolve X price, specifications and features: Conceptualised and designed in India, BlackBerry Evolve X is going after the likes of OnePlus 6 and Honor 10 in the premium mid-end segment.

BlackBerry Evolve X is a premium mid-end Android smartphone that has practically every feature one would expect. A massive display: Check. A dual-camera setup: You got it. Focus on privacy and security: Sure, why not? And even wireless charging for that matter. BlackBerry Evolve X has it all, except for maybe the physical keyboard.

Conceptualised and designed in India, BlackBerry Evolve X is going after the likes of OnePlus 6 and Honor 10 in the premium mid-end segment. We went hands-on with the handset to see if it can prove to be a disruptor and give the competition a run for their money.

BlackBerry Evolve X: Premium, functional design

BlackBerry Evolve X is drastically different from the Key2, the flagship with a built-in keyboard. The Evolve X is more like any other Android smartphone available in the market. The company wants the Evolve X to appeal to non-traditional BlackBerry users and it shows in the design language of the phone.

Perhaps the reason why Optiemus has opted for a 5.99-inch Full HD Plus 18:9 display that dominates the entire front, although the screen is not entirely bezel-less in nature. The phone has slimmer bezels, and with an 18:9 aspect ratio display, this phone should be decent enough to watch TV shows and movies.

Flip around the phone and you will notice a soft touch back panel that does remind you of previous generation BlackBerry phones. The company has clearly avoided using a glass back which practically every flagship comes with these days. Notably, Evolve X also supports wireless charging, something many users might be interested in. Though I am still not convinced with the idea of wireless charging yet. Overall, BlackBerry Evolve X is easier to grip in one hand and doesn’t feel bulky.

The phone also comes with a fingerprint scanner, which is located at the back. In case the sensor does not work properly, the company has added a facial recognition feature to unlock the smartphone. Optiemus Infracom says the Evolve X is the first BlackBerry-branded smartphone to come with a facial recognition feature.

BlackBerry Evolve X first impressions: Performance, battery

Under the hood, the Evolve X is powered by a Snapdragon 660 processor, 6GB RAM, 64GB of storage, microSD support (up to 2TB). The Evolve X retains a headphone jack.

Keep in mind that the Evolve X is powered by the same chipset which is found on the BlackBerry Key2.
We do not know the strategy behind using a mid-end processor in a premium tier smartphone. In case of the Key2, I could understand the rationale of using a Snapdragon 660 chipset. But the Evolve X has a different set of users who would be consuming a lot of multimedia content, playing games and editing documents. In my opinion, Evolve X appears to be underpowered, at least on paper.

I got up to a day of battery life on the Key2 and BlackBerry says you can expect twice the battery life on the Evolve X. That’s primarily because of the Evolve X’s 4000mAh battery, one of the few phones in this price bracket to feature such a mammoth battery. Given that the Evolve X has been designed for power users, it makes complete sense to have a 4000mAh battery on a phone.

Like the Key2, the Evolve X runs on Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box. Since this is powered by Android, every app from the Play store will run on the Evolve X. That said, the device still has some quintessential BlackBerry touches. For instance, the DTEK app that promises an extra layer of security and a new “Locker” app that lets you hide certain apps, documents, and media.

BlackBerry Evolve X first impressions: Cameras

On the back, you’ll also find a dual-camera setup. So now you have dual 13MP cameras (one is a primary snapper and the second has a 2x telephoto lens) on the back, alongside dual-tone LED flash. The phone promises to offer exceptional shots, even in low-light settings. I could not test the cameras myself, since the camera app was itself disabled on the prototype unit. On the front, there’s a 16MP selfie camera.

BlackBerry Evolve X first impressions: Early Conclusion

The Evolve X is designed as a modern-day BlackBerry phone that aims to appeal to a wider section of users — both casual and productivity hungry users. The phone remains true to BlackBerry ethos with a greater focus on security and privacy. The Evolve X is not targeted at a specific kind of user and that’s refreshing.

BlackBerry Evolve X is priced at Rs 34,990 and will be exclusive to Amazon India. The phone is expected to hit the market sometime in September.


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