The BlackBerry KEYone was one of our favorite smartphones of 2017. It wasn’t the most powerful phone ever, and it had plenty of quirks. Still, it offered a fantastic physical keyboard, useful software features, and stellar battery life compared to its competitors.
Now, the much-anticipated BlackBerry KEY2 is finally here, and it seems like a nice improvement in just about every way. Here’s everything you need to know.
The keyboard is back and better than ever
The physical keyboard is one of the most iconic things about BlackBerry devices and the KEY2 keeps it, with a ton of improvements.
The keys are 20 percent larger, which should make typing much easier. It offers a more tactile typing experience thanks to its matte finish, too.
The biggest addition to the keyboard this time around is the new Speed Key. It’s a dedicated key on the bottom-right of the keyboard that lets you quickly jump to any app you’d like, from wherever you are in the software. Just hold down the Speed Key, tap any one of your preset shortcuts, and you’ll instantly open that app. That should really come in handy.
Same design, refined
The KEY2 looks just like the KEYone, only better. Now, the Gorilla Glass 3 panel on the front goes all the way up to the top of the phone, instead of cutting off at the screen. It’s a much sleeker look.
The phone now uses series 7 aluminum throughout the entire design, and features more straight edges instead of curves. The KEY2 looks more modern in my opinion.
BlackBerry’s first dual camera
The KEY2 is BlackBerry’s first ever dual-camera smartphone.
The new BlackBerry sports two rear-facing 12MP sensors — one with an f/1.8 aperture and 1.28μm pixels and the other with an f/2.6 aperture and 1μm pixels. The second lens supports 2x optical zoom, and the combination of the two sensors allows for bokeh/portrait mode shots. Neither lens has OIS, though there is EIS on board.
The front of the device houses a single 8MP fixed-focus sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and 1.12μm pixels.
The KEYone’s camera was good, but never came close to the likes of the Google Pixel or Galaxy S8. Hopefully these new additions to the camera will help BlackBerry jump up to that next tier of smartphone photography.
Mid-range specs focused on battery longevity
The BlackBerry KEYone lagged a bit too much for my liking, but it had incredible battery life. Now it looks like BlackBerry is aiming to keep that same long-lasting battery while improving the KEYone’s performance.
The KEY2 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC with 6GB of RAM — double what the KEYone had at launch. The base model comes with 64GB of storage, while other non-U.S. markets will see storage variants up to 128GB.
See also: The full list of BlackBerry KEY2 specs
Like the KEYone, the KEY2 has a 4.5-inch LCD display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a Full HD resolution. It also has a headphone jack, dual speakers, a USB Type-C port, and a 3,500mAh battery with support for Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0. It’s 12 grams lighter than its predecessor, too.
The new Power Center app on the KEY2 will give you detailed information on how apps are draining your battery and what you can do about it. It’ll also analyze your charging behavior, using machine learning to better predict when you’ll run out of juice.
Privacy at its best
The KEY2’s new Private Locker feature will keep your sensitive information hidden from others. You can only access this section of the phone with a fingerprint, PIN, or password. Photos, files, videos, and even applications can be added to the Private Locker, and adding things to the Private Locker gives you the option to hide them from the “main” section of your phone. Nothing is backed up to the cloud either, so everything is stored locally on your smartphone.
Going on sale at the end of June
You can get your hands on the BlackBerry KEY2 at the end of June in the U.S., Canada, Germany, the U.K., France, and China. A wider global rollout is expected some time in July.
Now for the bad news: the KEY2 will cost $100 more than the KEYone. That means it’ll come to market for $649, 579 pounds, and 649 euros for the 64GB variant. We don’t have pricing details for the 128GB model yet.
It’s certainly odd to think that this phone can sell for over $100 more than the OnePlus 6, though of course BlackBerry and OnePlus cater to different users.
Either way, we’re excited to get our hands on one of these devices and bring you a full review in the coming weeks. Until then, be sure to check out our related BlackBerry KEY2 coverage below:
- BlackBerry KEY2 hands-on: Head to this article for a closer look at the BlackBerry KEY2.
- BlackBerry KEY2 specs: The KEY2 offers many improvements over its predecessor. Here’s the full list of KEY2 specs.
- BlackBerry KEY2 price, availability, deals, and release date: Head here to find out even more BlackBerry KEY2 pricing and availability details.
- Our favorite BlackBerry KEY2 features: The KEY2 is one of the more unique smartphones on the market. Join us as we round up our favorite KEY2 features!