Just a few years ago most of us had completely written off the idea of a phone with a physical keyboard, as the category was all but dead. Not wanting to let go, Blackberry started pushing back. The revival of the physical keyboard began with the Blackberry Priv but didn’t truly heat up until the Blackberry KeyOne’s arrival. While phones with keyboards are likely never going to be mainstream again, today there are actually a few options for those that are looking for the option.
The BlackBerry Key2 offers a number of improvements over its predecessor. The keyboard received a facelift, featuring keys that are 20 percent larger than the ones on the KEYone. There’s also the new Speed Key, a dedicated key on the bottom-right of the keyboard that lets you quickly jump to any app you’d like, from wherever you currently are on the screen.
The specs on the Key2 include two rear-facing 12MP sensors, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor and 6GB of RAM, which is twice the memory that the KEYone contains. You can also get at least 64GB of onboard storage, although some versions sold outside the U.S. will be able to get 128GB of storage. There’s also a 3,500mAh battery inside. There are also some excellent software security features such as a Private Locker feature where you can place photos, files, videos, and even applications inside. You can only access this section of the phone with a fingerprint, PIN, or password.
The BlackBerry Key2 may be a bit of a niche device, but it certainly will please hardcore BlackBerry fans or anyone else who wants a solid smartphone made for business and security. It’s available now on Amazon unlocked for $650 and works with GSM wireless carriers, including AT&T and T-Mobile.
The BlackBerry KEYone is still available and costs quite a bit less than its successor. It has a really great keyboard, with wonderful travel on the keys and all the shortcuts you remember from the BlackBerry of old. You can map keys to quick launch apps, plus the fingerprint sensor resides in the space bar of the keyboard. The BlackBerry KEYone makes smart use of that keyboard.
The BlackBerry KEYone is a mid-range smartphone.
Beyond that, the specifications are pretty good. The phone is powered by the Snapdragon 625 chipset backed by up to 4GB of RAM, which makes it a mid-ranger. It comes with a 4.5-inch display, a 12MP primary camera, and a 3,500mAh battery. You can learn more about it by checking out our review of the device at the link.
The reason to go with the KEYone instead of the Key2 is the price. The phone is quite affordable, coming in at just $250 — get it via the button below.
BlackBerry Key2 LE
The BlackBerry Key2 LE is a cheaper version of the Key2. It looks more or less the same, although it sports a plastic instead of a metal body. Most of the changes between the two can be found under the hood, with the LE model offering less power. It comes with the Snapdragon 636 chipset, 4GB of RAM, and 32/64GB of storage.
The phone packs a smaller battery at 3,000mAh and has a different dual-camera setup with 13 and 5MP sensors. It comes with a 35-key physical keypad that has a fingerprint scanner embedded into the space bar. Other specs and features include an 8MP selfie camera, expandable storage, and Android Oreo.
In terms of pricing and performance, the Key2 LE sits between the Key 2 and KEYone. You can get it unlocked on Amazon for $450, making it $200 cheaper than the Key2.
At MWC 2019, a London-based startup called Fxtec revealed its first phone called the Pro1. It sports a slider mechanism that brings out the keyboard from the side and tilts the display to a 155-degree angle for a better viewing experience. The QWERTY keyboard has five staggered rows and 64 backlit keys.
The handset features a stock-like version of Android Pie, a side-mounted capacitive fingerprint scanner, and a headphone jack. It’s powered by the Snapdragon 835 chipset, has 6GB of RAM, and comes with 128GB of storage. There’s also a dual-camera setup at the back for bokeh shots. All these things combined make it one of the best phones with a keyboard you can get.
The Fxtec Pro1 is already up for pre-order on the company’s website, retailing for $650. However, you’ll have to wait a few months to get it, as sales officially kick off in July.
That’s our look at the very few phones with a keyboard. Which one would you go for? Let us know in the comments.