With the news that BlackBerry will no longer be building smartphones itself, we saw a steep decline of a brand which was once dominated the world with its top-of-the-line security and unique design. But just before closing down its smartphone business, the Canadian company managed to surprise us with two Android-powered smartphones dubbed as DTEK50 and DTEK60. However, the DTEK 60 is meant to be a flagship device, but it is the DTEK 50, which will be competing among the mid-range smartphones. Although, the smartphone have some tricks up its sleeve, but does that makes it a phone worth buying? Let’s take a closer look.
Design and Display
First of all, to clear the mist surrounding around the smartphone, DTEK50 is not made by BlackBerry. They are basically manufactured by TCL, the folks behind the Alcatel brand. So eventually the device looks identical to the Alcatel Idol 4. The only differentiating factor between the two devices is the rear panel finishing. The Idol 4 comes with a glass back, and this one sports hard, grainy plastic finish with BlackBerry logo slapped on it. But I would admit that the device is surprisingly slim at 7.4mm thickness and is certainly lightweight at 135 grams. However, the rear is made of plastic finish which makes it a bit uncomfortable to hold at first (you will get used to it), but the aluminium band with shiny silver edges gives a sturdy look.
The front is dominated by a 5.2-inch screen with on-screen navigation keys at the base coupled with the stereo speakers setup at the top and base which are placed on the rim. On the right, you will notice the volume button with BlackBerry ‘Convenience key’ sitting right beneath it and below it, you will find the SIM and microSD card tray. The shortcut key helps launch any app you want, although you cannot use it when the phone is locked. Frankly, the placement of the convenience key is very confusing, as I kept hitting it to unlock the device. But soon I found out the power button is on the upper left side which is also a bit difficult to reach. There is an audio jack on the top and a microUSB port at the base. At the back, you will find the primary camera coupled with dual-tone LED flash and company’s logo sitting at the centre. Overall, there is no wow factor in the device, which was not expected from a brand which had some gorgeous-looking devices in the past.
Display and Sound
Coming to the display, the DTEK50 comes with a 5.2-inch full HD display with a screen resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. The device scores good marks in the display department as gives good colour reproduction and it has some good viewing angles. Watching videos was a delightful experience, especially with the good speaker output.
Coming to the dual-speaker grilles on the top and at the base does, it does a good job in delivering audio output. The speakers offer crisp highs and are loud enough. The setup is also replicated at the back, so you get the sound output from the rear speakers when putting the DTEK50 lying face down. Also, it comes with Waves’ MaxxAudio tuner, which has some presets to enhance your listening experience.
On the hardware front, the smartphone is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, coupled with Adreno 405 GPU. The device is backed by a 3GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, which can be expanded up to 2TB via microSD card. The device runs on the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with company’s security features. The DTEK50 is powered by a 2610mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0 for fast charging and support connectivity options like Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2, A-GPS, NFC, and FM radio.
That said, you can find the same specs in smartphones that are priced under Rs 15,000. The device is able to perform all the daily tasks like browsing, social media, streaming etc., without any lag and there was no issue in multitasking as well. The device was able to handle most of the casual games like Temple Run 2, Subway Surfer, quite effectively, but when it comes to playing high-graphic games like Asphalt 8, the device shimmers a bit. And during extended gaming period, there was also an issue of overheating, though it was not at an alarming rate.
The battery performance was above average, as it lasted for a day of normal usage. But if you are using a 4G connection, then the hunting for networks might take a toll on the battery output. Other than this, call connectivity was good and so is the headphones that come bundled with the handset.
On the camera front, the DTEK50 bears a 13-megapixel rear camera with PDAF, dual-tone LED flash, and a 6-element lens with a f/2.0 aperture. On the front, it bears an 8-megapixel fixed focus camera with an 84-degree wide-angle lens and a f/2.2 aperture. The photos taken from the primary camera came out to nice and detailed, but the yellowish hue was quite prominent in the images. The phone was able to lock focus fast, but it wasn’t accurate all the time. Under the low lighting conditions, the device performance was below average as it was not able to handle glare effectively and the images were coming out to be noisy and smudgy.
Software and Security
Although, the company has outsourced the hardware and design, but it still holds two important aspects: software and security. The company has kept the same interface it used in the Priv, like swiping up from the bottom of the screen brings up shortcuts for dialer, Device Search and BlackBerry Hub. And on the right side of the screen, you will find the Productivity tab, where you get to see calendar events, emails, to-do-list and favourite contacts. You can also view an app’s widget in a pop-up window by just swiping up. Pretty clever, right! The whole interface is quite stock(ish), which is something I liked a lot. Although, the app switcher comes with different-sized tiles, which kind of makes it harder to jump from one app to another.
Moving on to the security aspect, the device is named after an app that comes pre-installed, DTEK. Through this app, you can keep a track over the permissions and access of apps for your camera, microphone, location, contacts etc. The best part of this app is that it notifies whenever an app tries to gain access. The permission can be easily revoked and the malicious app can be quickly uninstalled with the DTEK. Yes, it is surely a useful feature.