The BlackBerry Key2 is finally here, more than a year after the KeyOne launched to relieve BlackBerry fans who had been waiting years for a truly modern device that met their need to have a traditional BlackBerry-like physical keyboard. Interestingly, BlackBerry also tells us this is the first new key on one of the company's smartphones in a decade. Blackberry said the keys are 20% bigger - hard to tell this as they're still kind of small - but the bigger difference during my short time with the device was the new matte coating.
The new phone also comes with a 4.5-inch IPS touch display that has a native resolution of 1620 x 1080. One day before BlackBerry (err, TCL) was set to reveal the successor to last year's KeyOne, the mobile tipster tweeted what appears to be a full specs list for the Key2. This includes a more compact chassis and a re-positioned convenience key, that's now located on the right along with the power and volume rocker.
You've got access to 35 backlit keys on the physical keyboard, and similar to the KEYone, the spacebar doubles as an integrated fingerprint sensor. The phone is now powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor compared to the Snapdragon 625 series on the KEYone.
Also of note about the keyboard is that it's got a new Speed Key that'll let you access your programmable shortcut keys without having to return to the home screen of your device.
BlackBerry Key2 has a dual-rear camera compared to the single one on the previous KEYone. As you'd expect, this adds a Portrait Mode, but the company is also promising Optical Superzoom, which captures multiple frames, reducing noise on zoomed photos. The QWERTY still supports touch-gestures like scrolling and Flick Typing for predictive texting, as also 52 app shortcuts via short and long press.
In regards to the selfie camera, you're looking at an 8MP sensor that's capable of recording 1080p video at 30 FPS.
Inside, TCL's trend of opting for mid-tier chipsets rather than power-demanding flagship silicon continues. There's a 3500 mAh battery inside that supports Quick Charge through the USB-C port.
The KEY2 runs on the new Android Oreo 8.1 operating system and has 6GB of RAM, with 64GB and 128GB storage options and expandable MicroSD storage. RAM will be 6 GB, but there are two variants with different memory - 64 GB or 128 GB. Firefox Focus, Mozilla's privacy browser, is present too. It came running numerous additional software features and apps we come to expect from BlackBerry.
TCL and BlackBerry Mobile says the Key2 will be released globally at some point in June, but hasn't given a concrete date. A dual-SIM model will be sold in select regions, like the Middle East, APAC, India, and Indonesia.
The KEY2, which retails for US$649, features a BlackBerry app called DTEK that helps users see and manage how data is used by other apps.