- BlackBerry Key2 initial review
- BlackBerry Key2 vs KeyOne: what's the difference
- The best Android phone: which is the top Android phone to buy today?
- Best smartphones available to buy today
While it may look similar to the KeyOne at arm's length, a deeper dive into the specifications and details reveals a few key changes. Here's everything you need to know about the all-new BlackBerry Key2.
BlackBerry Key2: Design
- 8.5mm slim
- 7000 series aluminium
- Black and silver options at launch
In an age where smartphones all look the same, the Key2 is one design that really stands out. It looks like you’d expect a modern BlackBerry to look. The front is part screen, part keyboard, but despite this, still has a modern aesthetic.
The 8.5mm chassis is built from the light and sturdy 7 Series aluminium, with flat edges all the way around, with slim, angled chamfers on the front and the back. Similar to the BlackBerry Motion, the top corners are completely right angled and sharp, while the bottom corners are rounded.
All the buttons live on the right-hand side this year, with the power button and Convenience Key joined by the power button, which is textured and perfectly positioned to make it easy to find with your right thumb.
The back - like most previous BlackBerry devices - is coated in a grippy plastic material. This time out it has a diamond-patterned texture, designed to look good but also ensure that it doesn’t ever slip out of your hand, or off your furniture.
For 2018, BlackBerry is going to launch two colour variants of the Key2 right from the off. Both the silver and stealthy black models are going to be available right away.
BlackBerry Key2: Keyboard
- Four row keyboard
- Keys 20% larger
- New Speed Key
BlackBerry Mobile - under the banner of TCL - has improved the keyboard in the Key2. It still has the traditional four row layout, with each separate by metal frets, but everything else is different.
The keyboard now takes up more space, thanks to each key being 20 per cent larger than those on the KeyOne. They’ve also been reshaped, sculpted and finished in a matte texture to make them easier to type on than the smaller, glossier keys on the last generation.
Those aren’t the only improvements made to the physical QWERTY though. The clicking mechanism has been improved to offer a tactile response that more closely emulates that of the impressive BlackBerry Bold 9900 from years ago, while the new Speed Key seeks to make app-switching much faster.
Similar to the previous few BlackBerry keyboards, the entire surface of the keys is touch sensitive so you can use it to swipe up and down, left and right, to scroll through lists and other elements of the user interface.
As always, you can assign a shortcut to each key, so you can launch any app by tapping a button on the keyboard while holding down the Speed Key, regardless of which app you’re in at the time.
BlackBerry Key2: Display
- 3:2 LCD IPS panel
- 1080 x 1620
Building a phone with a physical keyboard on the front means doing away with a traditionally shaped screen. In this instance, we have a 3:2 ratio display that still manages to pack in an impressive amount of pixels into a relatively small space.
Like the KeyOne before it, the Key2 has a 1080 x 1620 IPS LCD panel which takes up around half of the space on the front of the phone, and is coated in Corning Gorilla Glass. Because the keyboard is bigger, the top bezel, or forehead above the screen is smaller. The edges on the left and right are very slim, giving it an edge-to-edge look.
Pixel density is pretty high at 433 pixels per inch, and with its being an IPS LCD display, that means natural colours, clean whites and good viewing angles.
BlackBerry Key2: Hardware specs
- Snapdragon 660 processor
- 6GB RAM
- 64GB or 128GB storage
- 3,500mAh battery
- Quick Charge 3.0
BlackBerry phones aren’t about being the most powerful devices around, offering the smoothest high frame-rate and graphically intense gaming. Rather, you need enough power to get your tasks done efficiently and with minimal fuss. The KeyOne was great for that, especially the 6GB RAM Black Edition. This year, 6GB is the standard for both colours.
Alongside that, there’s the upgraded version of Qualcomm’s fastest 600-series chip. This year, that means the Snapdragon 660, which is paired with an X12 LTE modem to ensure fast cellular performance in areas with great 4G coverage.
Storage wise, BlackBerry is offering both 64GB and 128GB models this year, with the latter also offering dual SIM support. Both versions are expandable via microSD card.
To complement this power under the hood, there’s a 3,500mAh battery. BlackBerry says that even the most demanding users won’t be able to drain it in a single day. So if you’re the type that’s constantly on calls, diving into emails, Slack, messages and so on, you’ll not have to think about plugging it in until the end of the day, maybe even some point in the second day.
When it does need refilling, there’s Quick Charge 3.0 that can get the battery from zero to 50 per cent in 36 minutes.
One smaller change which impacts the day-to-day usage of a phone is the new positioning of the microphone and a new HiFi chip inside. With these combined, audio quality during calls is improved, and noise cancellation has been improved at the same time to make sure your phone calls are as clear as they can be.
BlackBerry Key2: Cameras
- Dual 12MP camera system
- 2x “optical zoom”
- Portrait Mode
As has become commonplace in today’s smartphone market, BlackBerry’s latest device has a dual camera system on the back. Both are 12-megapixel sensors, but one offers a 2x optical zoom effect to ensure you can zoom into scenes without losing detail. It also allows depth sensing for those blurry backgrounds in Portrait Mode.
As for video, there’s 4K resolution shooting at 30 frames per second. BlackBerry hasn’t included optical image stabilisation, but there is digital stabilisation and a better PDAF (Phase Detection Auto-focus) so shots in low light a better, and overall more blur-free.
BlackBerry Key2: Software
- Android 8.1 Oreo
- DTEK security app
- Secure locker for files/apps/browsing
BlackBerry is all about security, and that’s something that’s been enhanced further in the Key2 thanks to some new software additions in the Android Oreo-based software. The DTEK apps continues as an ever-present feature in the Key2 for easy security checkups and permissions management.
One area that has been improved is the Secure Locker. As well as letting you store private files, folders and media, you can now lock individual apps behind passwords or a fingerprint scan to keep those apps and information away from others. There’s also a built-in private browse (Firefox Focus), which lets you browse the internet with no tracking, and no history recording.
Apart from that, it’s much the same as before with a handful of useful productivity apps like Notes, Tasks and Calendar as well as the Hub for managing multiple notification sources in one inbox.
BlackBerry Key2: Price and release date
- £579 SIM-free
- Available on contract too
- Pre-order this month, delivery at end of June
BlackBerry Key2 will be made available for pre-order in June 2018, shortly after the launch event. It’s expected the 64GB phone will be on sale from the end of June, while the 128GB dual-SIM model will be 4-5 weeks after the unveiling, some time in July.
It’s available in several countries at launch, which includes the UK. You’ll be able to buy it SIM-free for £579, or get it on contract from one of the manufacturer’s retail or carrier partners.