BlackBerry says its BlackBerry KEY2, “Is an icon reborn. It has the most intelligent keyboard ever, and a battery that lasts up to 2 days.”

GadgetGuy remembers the iconic CrackBerry of the late 2000s characterised by

  • A QWERTY keyboard.
  • The smaller screen size to fit.
  • Highly secure operating system and apps.
  • A business look and feel but owned by every drug dealer et al

Apple and Samsung hardened their security, got US Government defence clearances and ate BlackBerry’s lunch virtually overnight. All of a sudden Canadian based Research in Motion (RIM) could not sustain the model.

To survive, RIM went to Android and struggled with the Priv slider, DTEK50 and KEYone.

It went into business with Chinese smartphone maker TCL (that also make Alcatel). TCL now design, make and market the BlackBerry. Since then we have seen the Aurora and Motion (both sans keyboard and low volume sellers). Now it is back-to-the-future with KEY2.

“There are many different smartphones for consumers to choose from today. But 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 BlackBerry KEY2, we’ve created a distinct smartphone that captures all the traits that have made BlackBerry smartphones iconic. We have introduced innovations and experiences that not only make this one of the best devices for security and privacy. It is the most advanced BlackBerry smartphone ever.”

You don’t buy BlackBerry KEY2 for the specifications

“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.”

BlackBerry KEY2The specifications are mid-range.

  • Qualcomm 14nm, 660, Kryo 260 Octa-Core 2.2 GHz x 4 + 1.8GHz x 4
  • 5-inch, 1620 x 1080, 3:2 aspect, IPS LCD Gorilla Glass 3
  • 6GB RAM, 64GB/128GB storage, up to 256GB microSD card slot. USB-C OTG/DisplayPort
  • 3500 mAh battery, USB-C power delivery 2.0 v1.2 & 9V2A 18W QC3.0
  • Rear: Dual Camera 12MP (standard lens 1.28um, f/1.8, Dual PDAF) and 12MP (telephoto Pixel-1.0um, f/2.6, PDAF) with Dual Tone LED Flash
  • Front: 8MP Fixed Focus, f/2.0, 1.12µm, Selfie Flash using LCD
  • Wi-Fi AC dual band, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, FM radio, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Fingerprint sensor on space bar
  • 35 key backlit keyboard
  • 4 x 71.8 x 8.5mm x 168g
  • Android 8.1 enabling OTA security updates

You buy the Key2 for the Blackberry apps

BlackBerry Keyboard BlackBerry Hub BlackBerry Hub+ Service Calendar by BlackBerry
Contacts by BlackBerry Notes by BlackBerry Tasks by BlackBerry BBM
DTEK  by BlackBerry BlackBerry Device Search BlackBerry Launcher BlackBerry Password Keeper
BlackBerry Power Centre BlackBerry Productivity Tab BlackBerry Notable BlackBerry Privacy Shade

International previews had said the solid build, metal and textured rubber back denotes a solid and reliable phone. They all say it is a refinement of the KeyOne – getting it right this time.

The 3:2 screen earns praise for reading text, emails, etc. in a vertical orientation. But forget it for 16:9 movies.

GadgetGuy’s take – BlackBerry’s KEY2 security has a place

It is not a flagship-class device. Instread it is a highly competent communications device when you need security and a keyboard. It is unique in that space as Samsung Galaxy Note is with a stylus.

The move to Android was smart as it has opened up Google Play and gives users access to things like Google Assistant, Lens, etc.

The US website is here.

Price is US$649. That equates to just under A$1,000 here. Availability in late June or July.