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BlackBerry goes back to QWERTY with new KEY2 device

08 June 2018
BlackBerry goes back to QWERTY with new KEY2 device

Privacy controls were touted among the top features of TCL Communications' BlackBerry KEY2 unveiled today in NY, reflecting a growing demand by consumers and regulators for the protection of personal data.

Also new this year: the BlackBerry Key2 has a dual 12-megapixel rear camera that has portrait mode and Google Lens built in.

"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, head of TCL's BlackBerry Mobile division.

While the KEY2 release includes a new camera and a tweaked QWERTY keyboard, it is clear that TCL is seeking to encourage business users, who once fuelled BlackBerry smartphones' success, by delivering improved security and privacy in an Android phone. Meanwhile, the 4.5-inch touchscreen now gets 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3, which promises to be more scratch-resistant.

Now, BlackBerry is readying a successor, appropriately named the Key2, which will be available later this summer for $649.

The physical keyboard has larger keys than on the KeyOne, and the height of the keys has been increased by 20%.

It's all reportedly powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 660 SoC and Kryo 260 graphics mated to 6GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of local storage that's expandable via microSD card slot.

Keyboard has bigger keys with matte finish, and there's a new shortcut key. BlackBerry stripped away the KeyOne's gaudy metallic accents, frets between the key rows and overly rounded edges for a sharper, more minimalist vibe that really lets the 7000-series aluminum frame stand on its own. It's used for shortcuts and you can program up to 52 combinations including long pressing an alphabet together with the speed key.

Powering the KEY2 is a 3,500mAh battery which is rated to last up to 2 days on a single charge. It comes preloaded with DTEK by BlackBerry application that removes the complexity of security by providing an "at a glance" security meter.

The KEY2 has dual 12MP rear cameras, better image stabilization and faster autofocus. Firefox Focus, Mozilla's privacy browser, is present too. As well as in the USA, it'll ship globally, priced from €649 Euro, £579 GBP, and $829 CAD.

What do you think of the BlackBerry KEY2?