With the BlackBerry Key2, TCL hopes to bring the world of physical keyboards and flagship Android features together to maximize productivity. I enjoyed using the phone for the last couple of weeks but I can’t make it my daily driver. Learn about the BlackBerry Key2 and why it’s a solid phone but why I can’t carry it without another phone as backup.
BlackBerry Key2 Specs:
Display: 4.5 inch (1620 x 1080) IPS LCD | 434 ppi
Cameras: 12 mp f /1.8 rear camera | 12 mp f/ 2.6 camera /
8-megapixel front-facing camera
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 / 6GB RAM
Memory: 64GB / 128 GB Internal Memory (with expansion slot)
Battery: 3,500 mah nonremovable | QuickCharge 3.0
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 / Wi-Fi / Nano SIM / USB-C 3.0 /
OS: Android Oreo 8.1
Features: headphone jack | Physical keyboard | Speed Key |
The touch-up TCL and BlackBerry Mobile gave the BB Key2 were needed. They KeyOne was a nice start to the screen above 4 row physical QWERTY keyboard model. The sleek rectangular design on the Key2 gives it the sophisticated business look. With the 4.5 inch screen right above the physical keyboard, the Key 2 fits nicely in hand. The Key 2 has a headphone jack on the top, a USB-C charging port at the bottom. The textured back has two 12 megapixel cameras. The right side of the Key2 has volume rocker at the top followed by the power key and the convenience key under. The power button is textured to help distinguish between the keys. Blackberry reps told me how typing on this keyboard would be a lot more comfortable since it’s modeled after the keys on the Blackberry Bold 9900.
Even though it’s not a new feature, I still love the BlackBerry Hub. And now that I am using a lot more apps, the Hub has become even more useful to me.
As with everyone covering this phone, they will talk about the major feature that makes it stand out from other phones, the physical keyboard. It is a big difference for daily use. Does it help you get more done? Are you more accurate with a physical keyboard? Of course, your mileage may vary based on experience but for me, it was both things. It took me a bit to get back into the crazy tapping on the keyboard. I wasn’t used to it as fast I wanted to be and my fear of letting the phone fall slowed me down as well. The Key2 is Gorilla Glass 3, not sure how strong it is to withstand multiple falls. I dropped the phone twice though, and it’s still intact.
You can still program keys as shortcut keys to apps or contacts, just like the KEYone. For example, you can program the “i” key to open Instagram. On the Key2 you can program two shortcuts to each key. You have a long press shortcut and a short press shortcut.
The speed key, which is located on bottom right of the keyboard (next to the symbol key and looks like the blackberry logo), allows you to switch to any other app (programmed with a shortcut key), no matter what app you’re in. Just hold down the shortcut key and click the key for the shortcut or app you want. That’s a pretty cool way of jumping from app to app and even jumping to apps that weren’t even open. It’s probably my favorite feature on the Key2.
What’s great is that you’re not stuck with the physical keyboard of the Key 2. You can use gestures to help you type. With gestures, once you start typing a word, if it comes up as one of the 3 words the keyboard predicts, just swipe up (under the word) and it will be inserted into the text.
There’s onscreen keyboard as well. As you can imagine, it’s a bit uncomfortable to use, since it’s above the physical keyboard. That means you have about 2.5 inches of the screen left.
The Key2 joined the dual camera club and it was almost for nothing. It’s incredible how hit or miss the cameras are on the phone. Sometimes it takes ok pictures and it can even do an ok job at Portrait Mode style pictures. But you just don’t know when it will miss. Even some pics that were taken with lots of natural light did not come out well. That’s why I can’t carry just the Key2, I need to have a phone with a decent camera. I know it’s not the major focus of the phone, but it could have been a little better. I take pictures of nearly everything, and I can’t risk not getting a good shot.
Security This is what BlackBerry is known for and it continues on with the Key 2. DTEK app on BlackBerry alerts you about apps using parts of your phone (microphone or camera). The Locker app allows you to hide apps and files away.
This is where the KeyTwo shines! You can get a lot of use from this phone with just one charge. I added all the social media accounts and 4 email addresses to the phone and got nearly 2 days of use on moderate days. On very busy days, I got a little over a full day of battery life. You can attribute that to having a screen that’s less than 5 inches and not quad HD. If battery life is the main factor for you when shopping for a new phone, the Key2 will impress you.
Pricing and Availability
The Key2 goes on sale July 13th for $650. It’s available in silver or black. I have been using it with T-Mobile SIM and it has been working well. You can pre-order / buy it on amazon.com and bestbuy.com. I’ll be sure to update if there are any deals or sales when it’s officially launched.
There’s definitely a target market for BlackBerry. A lot (read most) of smartphone users have gotten used to typing on a screen. The learning curve of typing on a keyboard will be too annoying for some to go back, even if it means more security and higher productivity. BlackBerry lovers and even those who are willing to give BlackBerry another chance will definitely enjoy the Key2, as it gives a solid performance in most departments. I still use it and get a lot of work done, thanks to the BlackBerry Hub. Learn more about it at blackberrymobile.com.