TCL Communications has officially introduced the newest addition to the BlackBerry smartphone line-up: the Key2.
The devices features the familiar BlackBerry physical keyboard, and comes loaded with BlackBerry's revered security and privacy enhancements.
Running Android Oreo 8.1, it is also the first BlackBerry device to feature a dual-rear camera. It also introduces Speed Key, a universal shortcut key that provides instant access to apps, contacts, and functions you use most often.
"Although there are many different smartphones for consumers to choose from today, most tend to offer very similar experiences without much distinction from one to the next," says Alain Lejeune, Senior Vice President, TCL Communication & President, BlackBerry Mobile. "With the introduction of BlackBerry Key2, we've created a distinct smartphone that captures all the traits that have made BlackBerry smartphones iconic, while introducing new innovations and experiences that not only make this one of the best devices for security and privacy, but also the most advanced BlackBerry smartphone ever."
"BlackBerry phones are the world's most secure Android smartphones," adds Alex Thurber, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Mobility Solutions at BlackBerry. "We design them for security from the inside out and we're proud to partner with TCL Communication on the launch of their all-new BlackBerry Key2. BlackBerry has been iterating and perfecting our approach to mobile security for decades, and we're excited to have this new genuine, modern BlackBerry smartphone available for our fans around the world to enjoy."
The Key2 features a Series 7 aluminum frame for added durability, and an updated soft touch back with a new diamond pattern, providing more grip and comfort.
Alongside the redesigned intelligent keyboard is a 4.5" scratch-resistant 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass touch display. Key height on the keyboard has been increased by 20%, which TCL provides a more comfortable and accurate typing experience, and includes a new matte key finish and fret design for optimized key spacing. It also includes in-keyboard fingerprint with updated mechanics for an improved tactile response. It also supports flick typing using predictive text that learns as you type, and acts as a trackpad to quickly scroll through e-mails, Web pages, and more.
With the Speed Key, press it along with any of your customizable 52 shortcuts to instantly access frequently used apps, call a favourite contact, or access other immediate functions.
Offering up to two days battery life, the phone has 5GB of memory and comes in both 64GB and 128GB variants, both of which can be expanded via optional microSD memory card.
Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, it includes Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0, and a new Smart Battery Experience that will learn from your daily charging habits and recommend when to charge up so you have enough battery life to make it through that next meeting, flight, or event.
The dual 12MP cameras offer improved auto white balance, faster autofocus, improved image stabilization, and new photo capture experiences. There are also new capture modes, like Portrait Mode, for capturing more dramatic shots, and Optical Superzoom, which uses multi-frame capture to reduce noise on zoomed photos.
The BlackBerry Key2 also integrates Google Lens, so you can more quickly and easily search and get more information on things like book reviews simply by capturing a picture of the book's cover, get landmark details, and more.
In terms of security, it comes preloaded with DTEK by BlackBerry application that provides an 'at a glance' security meter. This shows the overall security rating of your device, and provides a simple way to view how apps may be accessing your data and manage app permissions. You can then see and manage how downloaded apps access your personal mobile data, such as your location, access to your camera, microphone and more, with active controls over your mobile privacy and safety. The DTEK by BlackBerry app now also includes a new Proactive Health check feature, which enables you to scan your device and receive instant feedback on potential vulnerabilities and security optimizations.
Locker has also been improved to offer greater personal privacy and control over your content. Private folders for documents and photos prevent them from getting uploaded to the cloud and Firefox Focus, the privacy browser by Mozilla, ensures your web browsing sessions aren't tracked. Locker can only be accessed with your fingerprint or password.
As with other Android devices, you can access apps from the Google Play store, as well as features like Google Assistant, Google Lens, as noted, and more.
The BlackBerry Key2 will begin shipping in Canada this month for an MSRP starting at $829.