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BlackBerry Key2 LE announced: Want a cheaper Key2? TCL has you covered

Like the idea of the BlackBerry Key2 but hate the price tag? The Key2 LE is the phone for you.

Published onAugust 30, 2018

  • TCL has launched the BlackBerry Key2 LE, a cheaper take on the BlackBerry Key2.
  • The new phone sees downgrades in the horsepower, battery and camera departments.
  • TCL’s latest phone will be available globally from September and starts at $399, compared to $650 for the Key2.

The BlackBerry Key2 delivered pretty much everything you’d expect from a modern BlackBerry smartphone, but if the $650 asking price was too steep for your liking, then the BlackBerry Key2 LE might be for you instead. You can also check out our Key2 LE hands-on over here.

The new phone looks just like the Key2 at first glance, offering an identical 4.5-inch 1,620 x 1,080 display, 35-key physical keypad (with fingerprint scanner in the space bar, naturally), convenience key for shortcuts, and textured back. But the BlackBerry Key2 LE has a polycarbonate (i.e. plastic) chassis rather than the standard model’s aluminum chassis. Pop the hood however, and this is where you’ll see most of the changes.

TCL’s new phone uses a Snapdragon 636 chipset instead of the Key2’s Snapdragon 660, 4GB of RAM instead of 6GB, and 32GB or 64GB of expandable storage (no 128GB option here). The Key2 LE also sees a downgrade in the battery department, going from 3,500mAh to 3,000mAh. For what it’s worth, the brand is promising up to 22 hours of “mixed” usage from the phone.

The changes continue in the camera department, as the Key2’s 12MP+12MP telephoto pairing is swapped out for a 13MP+5MP dual-camera setup. TCL doesn’t say what the 5MP snapper is used for but if it’s like other budget dual-camera phones it’s likely capturing depth data. Otherwise, the two phones share an 8MP front-facing camera for selfie snaps.

In terms of connectivity options, the Key2 LE is largely identical to its more expensive stablemate. You’ve got NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, USB Type-C and, yes, a headphone jack.

Taken together then, the Key2 LE specs are squarely mid-range compared to the Key2’s upper-mid range hardware.

What’s the damage?

Blackberry Key2 LE slate - close-up of the top of the back showing dual cameras and plush finish

The phone is running Android 8.1 Oreo, so you’re not getting a sweet slice of Android 9.0 Pie out of the box. The company told Android Authority that it will deliver the latest OS upgrade, but there’s no word on a specific timeline.

In any case, the phone has plenty of familiar BlackBerry additions, such as the Privacy Shade tool, BlackBerry Hub for unified communications, Power Center for battery management, BlackBerry Messenger, DTEK security manager, and Locker functionality for storing private files.

The BlackBerry Key2 LE will be available globally from September, starting at $399/399 euros/349 pounds/519 Canadian dollars for the 32GB model. The 64GB variant will be available for $449/429 euros/399 pounds/579 Canadian dollars.

What do you think of the Key2 LE? Would you buy this over the standard Key2? Let us know in the comments section!