BlackBerry Mobile has - at long last - taken the wraps off its latest creation, the BlackBerry Key2. The all-new keyboard-equipped smartphone takes a lot of inspiration from the original KeyOne, but improves the areas that needed it.
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Starting with the keyboard, this year the designers took on feedback that the KeyOne's keys were a bit too small, a bit too shiny and not quite clicky enough. Using the awesome BlackBerry Bold keys as inspiration, the team created a brand new keyboard with keys that are 20 per cent larger, more square and have a more pleasant click.
Perhaps more important to general daily use is a brand new key, called the Speed Key. When used alongside the assignable keyboard shortcuts it trims seconds off the process of switching between apps, letting you instantly get to any of your apps without having to go home, access your app drawer or go to the multitasking recent apps screen.
That isn't the only area of design improvement. Rather than the chunky, rounded frame of the KeyOne, the Key2 has a slimmer, more square appearance that gives it a much classier aesthetic. Slimming down the chassis and switching to 7 series aluminium also means the device is considerably lighter than the KeyOne as well.
On the back, there's a new diamond-patterned texture to give the phone more grip as well as a dual 12-megapixel camera system housed inside a stainless steel pill-shaped ring. This dual camera system offers the usual portrait depth mode as well as the ability to enable a 2x optical zoom without losing any detail.
BlackBerry devices have always been about getting things done efficiently, but not necessarily about being the most powerful devices around. That's why, inside, you'll find the mid-range Snapdragon 660 processor alongside a generous 6GB RAM. Alongside that, to ensure that even the heaviest of users can get through a full day, there's a 3,500mAh battery equipped with Quick Charge 3.0 support. Some lighter users might even eke two days out of it.
Of course, adding four rows of physical keys means you won't get a regularly-sized screen on this phone. The 1620 x 1080 display on the Key2 is virtually identical to the KeyOne's screen, but thanks to a slimmer top bezel/forehead, it doesn't add much extra height to the phone.
As well as the usual BlackBerry suite of software enhancements - like the Hub, Priority Edge, DTEK security app and Calendar - there are some newer additions to this Android Oreo device.
There's a new intelligent battery feature that learns how you use your device, and then recommends when to plug it in to charge it up. There's also a new private locker feature that allows you to lock away files like before, but will now let you lock individual apps behind a password or fingerprint scan.
The BlackBerry Key2 is available to pre-order in June 2018, with shipment planned for later in the month. Both silver and black options will be available from launch, with 64GB models available initially and a dual-SIM 128GB model coming at a later date. At £579, it's far from being an expensive device, but it's moved away from the sub-£500 comfort zone.
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