‘An Icon Reborn’ – How does the BlackBerry Key2 Measure up?

At its heyday, BlackBerry garnered 20% of the global smartphone market. The newly-launched BlackBerry Key2 is an attempt to gain back some of its market share, but how does it shape up? 

In appearance, it is very reminiscent of the original BlackBerry with an elegant black finish and a textured rubber-backed exterior with the characteristic BlackBerry logo. However, design modifications of squared-off edges and a much thinner bezel make it look much slicker. 

The Trademark BlackBerry Keyboard 

The lay-out of the new BlackBerry’s 52-key raised keyboard takes a while to get used to after using a touchscreen. People new to BlackBerry design may find it problematic to balance the phone and type. Typing will not necessarily be quicker, and it’s quite easy to hit the wrong key. Its space bar operates as a fingerprint reader and camera shutter while the newly-added ‘sym’ key acts as a short-cut between apps when pressed alongside a letter and can be customised by users. 

The BlackBerry Key2 Screen 

The touchscreen display gives sharp image definition and good contrast, but the characteristic BlackBerry keyboard has been incorporated at the expense of the screen size. Although the 4½-inch display is sufficient for accessing social media and writing emails, picture quality is inadequate for full-screen apps like playing games or watching videos. From the home screen, users can access the BlackBerry Hub. This gathering together of messages, calendar appointments, etc. makes it easier for users to keep track of their commitments and will especially appeal to business people. 

Other Features of the BlackBerry Key2 

When the original BlackBerry was released, its messaging app was revolutionary. It is still available on the new version, but the question is whether users will find anyone to communicate with now that its place has been usurped by rival instant messaging apps. The phone also has dual 12-megapixel cameras for wide angle shots or portraits and 4K video recording. However, picture quality is not as good as other smartphones, lacking colour differentiation and detail so shots can seem out of focus. Battery life is adequate, and the phone also incorporates ‘Quick Charge’ technology. Another improvement to the device is a number of security apps including a privacy shape app which blocks the screen from prying eyes and a private browser. 

The BlackBerry Key2 Software 

Manufactured under licence by the Chinese Company TCL, the BlackBerry Key2 is available in two versions: 64GB and 128GB (though there is a SD card slot for those who need more storage). It runs on an Android 8.1 Oreo core, but with a number of BlackBerry design modifications. However, its Snapdragon 660 CPU may seem slower compared to some of its rivals. 

Our Verdict on the New BlackBerry 

With a price tag of £579, the BlackBerry Key2 is more likely to appeal to those who feel nostalgic for the original and/or businesspeople who need a separate work-related phone. Although the phone has been upgraded, it has its limitations. It is doubtful whether it will win over a new generation of BlackBerry users in 2018.

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