BlackBerry has officially announced a successor to last year’s KEYone smartphone in the form of BlackBerry KEY2. Like the first-generation, KEY2 is a premium mid-range smartphone that resurrects the keyboard. BlackBerry confirmed the device in a teaser for its NYC event a few weeks ago, and from last-minute leaks, we got an idea of what to expect. Now that the phone has gone official, we can tell you more about it. Here’s everything to know in a nutshell.
We’ve been hearing about an upcoming BlackBerry model code-named ‘Athena’ for many months in rumors, leaks and reports. The device is now known as BlackBerry KEY2 and we have all the details including hardware specs and design. People have been waiting for this model since the KEYone turned a year old back in March, and sold in record numbers last year. And while the KEY2 features many of the same design aspects and software features, it’s a much more complete device. So while we’d say it’s a minor upgrade, there are still some things to look forward to including better performance, a modern design and improved software. A lot of this we learned from leaks, but BlackBerry did manage to keep a few surprises for the phone’s announcement. Here are some things you should know before considering KEY2 as your next buy.
BlackBerry has decided to pursue a second-generation smartphone with at least one of its Android devices. Deservingly so, it’s the KEY device that will be BlackBerry’s one to go forward with. KEY2 uses a number in its name as opposed to the number written out in letters like the first generation. The smartphone was announced late last week, and will hit markets alongside similar devices. Since releasing the KEYone, the premium mid-range market has become far more saturated and competitive especially among Chinese OEMs, meaning BlackBerry will have more pressure on its back in trying to get consumers to upgrade, or switch from another device. For a company who planned to abandon smartphones all together a year ago, this device let alone is surprising, though TCL has been in charge of the heavy lifting.
BlackBerry KEY2 uses a Snapdragon 660 processor with 6GB of RAM. It comes in choice of 64GB and 128GB options, both with microSD card support. The display itself measures 4.5-inch diagonally and has a Full HD resolution of 1620 x 1080 pixels. The footprint is nearly the same as the KEYone but the bezels have shrunken a bit, which has been a trend in 2018 to maximize screen-to-body ratio. Beneath the screen and keyboard is a fairly large 3,505mAh battery cell with support for Quick Charge 3.0. This is the same as that inside the KEYone. On the rear of the device we have a new camera system entailing dual lenses of 12MP with f/1.8. New features have been added to the camera app and BlackBerry promises superior low-light performance. There’s also an impressive selfie camera with 8MP, flash and unknown aperture.
Pre-installed on the BlackBerry KEY2 is Google’s Android 8.1 Oreo. Some of the features from Google in Oreo include new notifications, performance and battery improvements by further restricting background data, picture-in-picture mode, new adaptive icons, and system-wide auto-fill. On top of Android are BlackBerry’s latest privacy, security and productivity features of which the company is well-known for. Despite these, the skin is very lightweight and fast. BlackBerry plans to update the device everyone month while support lasts with Android security patches, and the phone is expected to receive Android P at some point. Buyers will also have access to the Google Assistant.
Taking a look around the BlackBerry KEY2, we have not only a touchscreen but also a full QWERTY keyboard on front. The keyboard brings a bunch of features including programmable app shortcuts, Flick Typing, and more. Key height has increased by 20% for better accuracy than the KEYone, and there’s a new speed button for shortcuts. The device features a polished design made of metal, making it one of few since glass has become mainstream. Unlike many flagships that launched in the last month, there’s no notch on this model. The phone is durable and charges via a bottom mounted USB Type-C port. There are also side-mounted power and volume controls with addition to a fingerprint scanner, BlackBerry branding and single speaker. Other specs include Bluetooth 5.0, NFC and 3.5mm headphone jack. There is no water resistance due to the keyboard.
BlackBerry KEY2 comes in two colors: All Black or Black with Silver. BlackBerry will release the device all over the world beginning later this month. The handset will be unlocked to work on GSM carriers. Pre-orders could go live any day. We’ll update you with the product links once they go live at the BlackBerry online store. Pricing has been set at $649, which is a whole $100 bill higher than last year’s model. This is to be kept in mind considering this is supposed to be an upper mid-range device. Today, some of the cheaper flagships are priced the same and might be worth considering as an alternative. What do you think?
Register for email updates at MobileBlackBerry.com.
Stay tuned to Droid Turf as we’re your source for extensive coverage of the Android ecosystem.