BlackBerry Evolve, Evolve X Hands-on: Lacking Substance for the Price

BlackBerry Evolve, Evolve X Hands-on: Lacking Substance for the Price

Just a week after launching the flagship BlackBerry Key2 smartphone in India, Optiemus Infracom unveiled two new premium mid-range smartphones – BlackBerry Evolve and Evolve X – in India.

Both flaunt premium build quality and abundant security features, but at prices that would burn a hole in your pocket. We had the chance to spend time with both models at the Delhi launch event. Here are my initial impressions:

Design and Display

BlackBerry Evolve and Evolve X are remarkably lightweight and ergonomic, boasting a Series-7 aluminum frame and a soft-touch back panel that lend them a sleek appearance and enhance handling comfort.

On the front, both devices feature a spacious 5.99-inch Full-HD+ IPS LCD LTPS display with a 1080 x 2160p resolution. The screen delivers impressive brightness, consistent with the company’s 500 nits claim, and offers excellent color reproduction. Despite substantial bezels, housing the earpiece, front camera, and sensors at the top, and BlackBerry branding at the bottom, the device remains manageable in size and weight.

Despite sporting a modern 18:9 screen, the device maintains a manageable size and weight.

The dual rear cameras and fingerprint sensor are centrally positioned on the rear panel, which I find unappealing. The camera bump is significant, and the fingerprint sensor is difficult to locate due to its similarity in texture to the rear panel.

Despite this, I appreciated the build quality of the BlackBerry Evolve lineup, particularly the textured power button and rear panel.

Hardware and Performance

The BlackBerry Evolve runs on the Snapdragon 450 chipset, also found in the Redmi 5 priced below $10,000. It comes with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. In contrast, the Evolve X features the Snapdragon 660 chipset, also used in the Xiaomi Mi A2 and Nokia 7 Plus, along with 6GB RAM and 64GB internal storage. Considering the price point, the internals of this lineup are disappointing.

Despite having 4GB of RAM, the Snapdragon 450 on the BlackBerry Evolve exhibited lag and slow animations. In contrast, the high-end internals of the Evolve X performed smoothly without any noticeable frame drops.

BlackBerry Evolve devices feature a USB Type-C charging port, two bottom-firing speakers (with Dolby Atmos support, though untested), and a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top.


BlackBerry Evolve, Evolve X Hands-on: Lacking Substance for the Price

While prioritizing security, BlackBerry Evolve maintains high camera quality.

Firstly, the BlackBerry Evolve boasts a dual-camera system comprising 12MP+13MP lenses, with apertures of f/1.8 and f/2.6 respectively. The pixel sizes are 1.4 um and 1.0 um respectively, each with a 6-piece lens. Conversely, the Evolve X houses a 13MP RGB + 13MP monochrome setup, both with f/2.0 apertures.

Both devices include a 16MP front camera with an f/2.2 aperture and a 78-degree FOV, fulfilling your selfie and social media requirements.

Without fully testing the rear cameras on the new BlackBerry devices, photos appeared well-lit and sharp, even in dimly-lit conditions. Despite company officials mentioning the camera app wasn’t fully prepared, it functioned adequately without noticeable focusing issues or shutter lag on the BlackBerry Evolve.

Both devices feature a real-time bokeh mode that operates as advertised. Users can select from 3 intensities (low, medium, and high) and capture portrait mode photos. These photos allow for refocusing on different objects. However, the studio mode, including all the beauty effects and slender mode, didn’t appeal to me.

Note: The cameras on the Evolve X were not testable as the app on this device was inaccessible to the media.


BlackBerry asserts its Android version’s enhanced security, featuring root protection, OS hardening, secure boot, and other provisions. While these terms might overwhelm new users, it’s reassuring to see the company prioritize user privacy and data security.

Additionally, BlackBerry provides its customary security apps, including a password manager for easy password management and generation, Privacy Shade to prevent screen reading from over the shoulder, and DTEK by BlackBerry for monitoring device activity.

Despite the subpar UI experience, I appreciated their BlackBerry keyboard, equipped with gestures and flick typing. As a fan of dark themes, I also appreciate the company’s inclusion of a dark mode in its custom Android OS.

Pricing and Availability

The BlackBerry Evolve is priced at Rs 24,990 and will be available at the end of August, while the Evolve X will retail for Rs 34,990 and launch in mid-September.

Both devices have steep prices, comparable to flagship Snapdragon 845-powered phones. This greatly hinders their potential.

While there is a niche market, Optiemus may struggle to reach its targeted 10 percent market share this year.