This phone has a nice feel, but some of its features can frustrate
It’s been almost two years since TCL Communication bought the branding rights for BlackBerry devices and it doesn’t seem that there has been much to shout about so far.
Since the agreement, the manufacturer has released four devices: the KEYone, Motion, KEY2, which I have used for aweek or so, and the KEY2 LE.
Launched in June 2018 , the KEY2 is a slimmer, lighter version of the KEYone, with a dual-camera set-up instead of the single one. Other changes from the KEYone include the Android upgrade, Bluetooth 5.0 and a range of new cellular bands to make the device available in Canada, India andChina, amongst others.
On the surface, the device looks as you would expect, with the physical keyboard, a large(ish) screen and buttons on the side. It’s nice in the hand and the textured back really makes a difference in giving it a quality feel, despite it being plastic.
At the bottom of the device is the typical QWERTY keyboard from BlackBerry, equipped with ‘shift’, ‘alt’ and ‘control’ keys to get the most out of the real estate, or make it less of an inconvenience.
OS: Android 8.1 (Oreo)
Processor: Snapdragon 660
Screen: 4.5 inches
Internal storage: 64/128GB
External memory: up to 256Gb via
Water resistance: None
Rear camera: Dual 12MP
Front camera: 8MP
Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth,
Cellular Speed: CAT11
What The Manufacturer says:
TCL Communication, a leading global smartphone manufacturer and BlackBerry brand-licensing partner, is introducing the world to the most advanced BlackBerry smartphone yet the debut of the BlackBerry
Featuring an iconic BlackBerry physical keyboard and loaded with BlackBerry Limited’s best security and privacy enhancements, this all-new BlackBerry smartphone packs a number of features that are firsts for any BlackBerry
Running the latest Android 8.1 Oreo operating system, the BlackBerry KEY2 is the first-ever BlackBerry smartphone to feature a dual-rear camera. It also includes the introduction of Speed Key, a universal shortcut key that now makes it possible to instantly access the apps, contacts and functions you use most from anywhere on your device at any time.
The BlackBerry KEY2 pairs the best of Android 8.1 Oreo with an iconic smartphone experience you can find only in a BlackBerry smartphone.
What We Say:
BlackBerry is one of those funny brands that has risen and fallen from glory in
the past decade or so. Now that TCL has taken over, you’d imagine nostalgia and wrong turns would be worked out and rectified. But this is not the case, and the physical keyboard is still there with a lot of painful attempts to be helpful.
Shortcuts and touch sensitivity are all well and good, but unless you can remember what each key is assigned to or that you assigned the key in the first place, you’ll still find yourself scrolling through the directory of applications until you find what you’re after.
On top of that, the world of widgets you can open up by swiping from the right take an age to load and even then are pretty simple and leave you wondering whether it was worth using the widget in the first place.
This all feeds into the frustrations of the KEY2. Although on receiving and powering up the device it was all very exciting, after a week I was fed up. Call me a snowflake, but my fingers were starting to ache, and when it came down to it, I was carrying around my own phone for entertainment and the camera anyway, which defeated the purpose of having the device in the first place.