Long live the keyboard as BlackBerry announces the Key2

3 min read

BlackBerry is still around and they’ve recently made a resurgence of such under their new partnership with TCL. The first major release under this new regime was the BlackBerry Keyone. The company returned to it’s roots rocking the physical QWERTY keyboard flagship and was followed by a decent reception by the critics. Now BlackBerry is ready for round two of the Keyone one. This week the company launched the Key2.

The latest rendition borrows heavily from the previous Keyone. The BlackBerry Key2 shares a similar overall design as a “candy bar” QWERTY device with full fret keyboard. You are also greeted with a 4.5″ display, 3500mAh battery, and Snapdragon 660 processor. Each of these will feel right at home to Keyone users and should result in keeping the amazing battery life they’ve grown used to having. BlackBerry is launching with 2 colors this time as well with both black and silver models available.

The Key2 will also come with the same security-focused app suite that includes: DTEK, BlackBerry Hub, and a new private browsing experience powered by Firefox Focus. The Key2 will include Android Oreo at launch, but I’ll hold judgment if it sees any OS updates outside of that. The Keyone has seen plenty of security updates, but no Oreo. This is something that BlackBerry and TCL need to improve for serious Android users to consider their products.

BlackBerry is also stepping up their camera game. While the camera in the Keyone takes respectable shots, the Key2 will sport a new dual 12MP camera layout that will bring many new photo options. The most notable of these would be Portrait mode. This is a popular feature found on most phones recently released and will bring the camera app up to parity.

Other changes to the hardware include a new Speed Key, which is the 9 dotted one, that allows you to assign any app to be launched from any screen by pressing this shortcut key and any letter you’ve assigned an app. I’m honestly confused on why this is there with the Key2 also still having the Convenience button on the right side of the phone. This seems like a redundancy that I just don’t understand yet. I’d much rather this new key be a keyboard shortcut for multi-tasking or even the notification shade.

I’m also not sure why we moved the power button to the right side as well. Now the left side is completely naked and you have volume, power, and the dedicated Convenience button all on the right. I’m a stickler for having the power button on the right just for the sake of consistency among Android phones, but this just seems cluttered. I’d much rather have seen them move the Convenience button to the left to set it apart.

Rounding out the hardware the Key2 sees a significant bump in RAM to 6GB from 3 or 4GB on the Keyone and we also see the return of the 3.5mm headphone jack. Both of these are welcome. The 3GB version of the original Keyone really struggled after being used for about a week and constantly was pushing the edge of running out of memory. And BlackBerry is a classicly designed phone that should simply have the headphone jack in my opinion. While the age of wireless is getting better, I still don’t think there’s a viable replacement to the awesome standard that we had in the hardware audio jack.

So there you have it. Our first official look at the BlackBerry Key2! The phone will launch later this summer and will set you back $649 here in the US. Personally, I can’t wait to have this device in my hands, but I’m also a proud Keyone owner. What about the rest of you? Are you excited about this phone, or is this form factor just too old school? Let us know in the comments!