BlackBerry is well into its second comeback year and it has been getting plenty of attention. The Canadian company’s KEY2 is a well-refined successor to the KEYOne. It brings a new dual-camera system, which is a first for any BlackBerry. Along with this, an updated CPU, increased RAM, and a new keyboard with improved tactile movement and feedback.
The KEYOne was criticized for being too slow running the Snapdragon 625. The KEY2 doesn’t get a higher-end CPU, but it does have a higher-end mid-range CPU from Qualcomm – the Snapdragon 660. 6GB of RAM keeps the UI running smoothly while base internal storage has doubled to 64GB.
The overall look of the phone is less curvy, so look for more straight lines and bold corners. Gone are the chrome accents in favor of matte finishes on both the metal accents and the keyboard’s keys are no longer glossy. The grip pattern has been replaced with a nice diamond one for optimal holding comfort.
BlackBerry KEY2 specs
Body: 7000 series Aluminum body, physical backlit QWERTY keyboard, soft touch grip on the back
Screen: 4.5-inch IPS-LCD (1080 x 1620 px), ~434 ppi, 3:2 aspect ratio, protected by Gorilla Glass 3.
Rear cameras: 12MP (f/1.8, 1/1.3″, 1.55 micron pixel, Dual PDAF) + 12MP (f/2.6, 1.0 micron pixel, PDAF), dual-tone flash, HDR; 4K @ 30 fps
Front camera: 8MP fixed focus, Selfie flash via LCD display, 1080p @ 30 fps
Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 CPU, Octa-core (4×2.2 GHz Kryo 260 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260); Adreno 512 GPU
Memory: 6GB RAM, 64/128 GB storage; microSD card slot up to 256GB
OS: Anndroid 8.1 Oreo with Secure BlackBerry App Suite
Battery: 3,500 mAh non-removable battery; Quick Charge 3.0 support
Connectivity: Single/Dual-SIM (hybrid slot), Qualcomm X12 modem – support for up to 3x LTE-A carrier aggregation. Cat. 12 (600 Mbps) down, Cat. 13 (150 Mbps) up, USB Type-C (v3.0) with OTG, 3.5mm headphone jack, GPS/A-GPS, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, FM Radio, Display Port via USB-C, 802.11 b/g/n for 2.4GHz; 802.11 a/n/ac for 5GHz
Misc: Fingerprint scanner in Space key, touch sensitive keyboard gestures, Convenience and Keyboard shortcuts
Currently, BlackBerry is competing in unoccupied waters. There is no other mainstream smartphone that offers a compelling physical typing experience. For this reason, the BlackBerry form factor is appealing to past (and even current) owners of legacy BlackBerry devices. The KEY2’s keyboard is an appealing feature of the phone, and one that BlackBerry has built to the likeness of the BlackBerry Bold 9000’s keyboard.
The BlackBerry KEY2 may not be the one to put the BlackBerry back under the mainstream consumer’s radar, but it sure is something that can appeal to many customers on the business enterprise level.
We didn’t expect the KEYOne’s camera to perform the way it did in our review. For this reason, we have high hopes that the KEY2’s new dual-camera will deliver even better looking images and improved low-light performance – more on that in the camera section.
The KEY2 is going to be available in several regions and packaging may vary from market to market. Our North American variant included a SIM tool, Quick Charge adapter, a USB-C cable, and some nice-looking earbuds with replacement tips.
Next up, we’ll take a closer look at the design and hardware feel of the KEY2.