At an event in New York, TCL Mobile announced the new BlackBerry KEY² as its flagship device that comes with improvements in software, hardware with features that haven’t been seen on a BlackBerry device until now. With mid-range specifications, an enhanced physical keyboard and dual rear cameras, the BlackBerry KEY² come at a steep starting price of $649 (approx. Rs 43,500).
As had been discussed through leaks, the BlackBerry KEY² looks a lot like its predecessor and is a continuation of the KEYone in many aspects if not all. The device still comes in a rectangular footprint with keys that are 20 percent larger for a longer key travel and thus improve the tactile feel of the signature hardware-based keyboard. Instead of a glossy exterior, the physical keyboard throws a matte-like feel so as to feel softer while typing. There’s a fingerprint scanner that doubles up as the space key and like the KEYone, the device retains the trackpad functionality through its physical keyboard.
The display is a 4.5-inch IPS LCD screen with a resolution of 1080 x 1620 pixels which is due to the square-ish aspect ratio of 3:2. The BlackBerry KEY² has a pixel density of 433 ppi on its smaller than conventional display thus providing a crisper looking display on the front which is now protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
On the inside, the KEY² still packs in a mid-range chipset and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC clocked in at 2.2GHz with 6GB of RAM and up to 128GB of onboard storage. BlackBerry lets you make the best of the storage situation with an expandable storage of up to 2TB through a microSD card.
The KEY² as expected runs on Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box and will be seeded with monthly security updates by Google since the device comes under the Android Enterprise Recommended initiative. BlackBerry has guaranteed that KEY² users can expect one major Android update, meaning Android P might as well be rolled out to the device. BlackBerry has also packed in its signature BlackBerry Hub software that pushes the enterprise-oriented experience, BBM messaging and BlackBerry Locker which is a secure folder that only opens with your fingerprint.
Imaging is where BlackBerry has really enhanced the KEYone successor as the KEY² comes with a dual 12MP + 12MP sensors at the rear end, the second lens being a telephoto camera which is touted to come with a 4X Optical Superzoom. BlackBerry says the zoomed in shots are made noise-less by sticking several pictures that are captured through a single press of the shutter like Google makes use of its HDR+ feature. The KEY² also equips Google Lens, meaning you can ask the Google Assistant find what exactly you see in front of you.
All of this is juiced up by a 3,500mAh power unit which looks relatively standard on paper but BlackBerry claims that the KEY² will be able to last for up to two days on a single charge. We’ll only know that once the device is put to test.
The BlackBerry KEY² will start selling in the US for a starting price of $649 (approx. Rs 43,500) but reports suggest that prices may vary and might increase by the time the device reaches India.