This morning in New York, TCL announced the successor to last year’s BlackBerry KEYone Android smartphone with a physical keyboard: the BlackBerry KEY2. As expected, the BlackBerry KEY2 still features the physical keyboard and will ship with a dual rear camera, BlackBerry Limited’s security and privacy enhancements, a new Speed Key, and Android 8.1.
“Although there are many different smartphones for consumers to choose from today, most tend to offer very similar experiences without much distinction from one to the next,” said Alain Lejeune, Senior Vice President, TCL Communication & President, BlackBerry Mobile. “With the introduction of BlackBerry KEY2, we’ve created a distinct smartphone that captures all the traits that have made BlackBerry smartphones iconic, while introducing new innovations and experiences that not only make this one of the best devices for security and privacy, but also the most advanced BlackBerry smartphone ever.”
We were suitably impressed with the BlackBerry KEYone and the KEYone Black Edition last year when they were released. It sounds like the KEY2 builds upon the KEYone with a refined design and new features. The aluminum frame is flat on the edges as opposed to the rounded edges on the KEYone and the soft touch back has a new pattern for added grip and comfort. Other design changes include a slightly different earpiece grille, moving the SIM card/MicroSD card slot to the left edge, and moving the power button to the right edge of the phone with the volume buttons and Convenience Key. The headphone jack remains on the top left of the top of the phone with the USB Type-C port centered on the bottom between two speaker grilles.
The 4.5-inch display remains the same size, this time with 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass in a seamless edge to edge look and increased scratch resistance. The keys on the keyboard, however, see a key height increase of 20 percent, a new matte key finish, fret design, and a new key. The Speed Key allows users to program up to 52 shortcuts and access them by pressing the Speed Key and another key to access apps, specific content, or other functions. In addition, the physical keyboard still supports flick typing with predictive text and also doubles as a trackpad when required. The phone itself is slightly thinner than the KEYone — only 0.33″ (8.5mm) thick — and is 0.16″ (4.1mm) taller.
As far as technical specifications, the BlackBerry KEY2 has the same 3500mAh battery but TCL claims it will still offer up to two days of battery life. The device also has a new Smart Battery Experience app which will suggest the best times for you to charge your phone based on your usage to make sure it lasts when you need it most.
The amount of RAM has been increased to 6GB over the 4GB offered in the KEYone Black Edition and the KEY2 will come in a 64GB and 128GB variant with expandable MicroSD storage up to 256GB. The processor gets a bump up from the Snapdragon 625 to the Snapdragon 660 2.2 GHz + 1 GHz, 64-bit octa-core.
The other main improvement is the introduction of a dual 12MP rear camera with new capture modes which include Portrait Mode and Optical Superzoom. Portrait Mode is as one would expect, allowing users to capture better portrait photos. Superzoom uses a multi-frame capture to reduce noise on zoomed photos for the best results. In addition, the KEY2 camera also supports Google Lens.
Being a BlackBerry device, users have come to expect BlackBerry’s privacy and security features and suite and the KEY2 is no exception. The KEy2 features DTEK by Blackberry and Locker for securing sensitive content including photos and files, as well as private app access. Locker also comes with Firefox Focus by Mozilla for private web browsing.
The KEY2 is also part of the Google Android Enterprise Recommended program giving users and businesses the peace of mind that the device meets the elevated security and update practices established and validated by Google.
“BlackBerry phones are the world’s most secure Android smartphones. We design them for security from the inside out and we’re proud to partner with TCL Communication on the launch of their all-new BlackBerry KEY2,” said Alex Thurber, SVP and GM of Mobility Solutions at BlackBerry. “BlackBerry has been iterating and perfecting our approach to mobile security for decades, and we’re excited to have this new genuine, modern BlackBerry smartphone available for our fans around the world to enjoy.”
Full specifications of the BlackBerry KEY2 include:
- Processor: Qualcomm SDM660, 2.2 GHz + 1.8GHz, 64-bit, Kryo 260 Octa-Core
- Display: 4.5-inch (1620 x 1080); 434 PPI, IPS LCD; 3:2 aspect ratio; Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3
- Memory: Internal Memory: 6GB RAM + 64GB or 128GB ROM, microSD (up to 256GB)
- Keyboard: Touch-enabled 35 key backlit, physical Keyboard (QWERTY) with
integrated fingerprint sensor
- Rear Camera
- Dual rear camera (12MP + 12MP) with Dual Tone LED Flash
- HDR, 4K video recording at 30 fps, Scan, Private Capture
- 12MP – 79.3° Large Pixel 1.28um, F1.8, Dual Phase Detect Auto Focus
- 12MP – 50°, Pixel-1.0um F2.6, Phase Detect Auto Focus
- Front Camera: 8MP Fixed Focus, Selfie Flash via LCD display, 1080p video recording at 30 fps
- Sound: 3.5mm jack, HD Audio for improved audio playback, Optimized dual microphone placement and active noise cancellation for improved call quality
- Sensors: GPS/A-GPS, Fingerprint (spacebar), Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Ambient Light
- Battery: 3500mAh with Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 support
- Operating System: Android 8.1 (Oreo)
- BlackBerry Apps: BlackBerry Keyboard, BlackBerry Hub, BlackBerry Calendar,
Contacts, Notes, Tasks, BBM, DTEK, BlackBerry Device Search, BlackBerry Launcher, BlackBerry Password Keeper, BlackBerry Power Center, Productivity Tab, BlackBerry Notable, BlackBerry Privacy shade, Camera, Convenience key, Phone,
Battery Boost, Locker, FM Radio, Content transfer, Calculator, Support Center, Clock, File Manager
- Android Apps: Assistant, Chrome, Gmail, Google, Maps, You Tube, PlayStore, Drive, Play Music, Play Movies, Duo, Phones, Play services & Core services, Google TTS, Android WebView, Widevine DRM, Talkback, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Translate, Messages, News & Weather, Wallpaper
- Dimensions: 5.96in x 2.82in x .33in (151.4mm x 71.8mm x 8.5mm)
The BlackBerry KEY2 will be available in silver and black and will begin shipping globally soon with the suggested retail price starting at $649USD/€649/£579/$829CAD.