BlackBerry Key2 Unboxing, Quick Review: Making Up For Lost Time

by John Nieves  May 10, 2019

We go hands-on with the Key2!

BlackBerry’s Key2 was an interesting phone when it was announced back in 2018. With a focus on safety, security, and productivity and possessing a physical keyboard, the phone wasn’t without its charms.

But that was roughly 10 months ago. It’s only now that the Philippines is getting the BlackBerry Key2 via TCL Philippines, and since the phone’s introduction last year there’s been a lot other, better choices in its price range. Will the Key2’s physical keyboard and promise of ironclad security be enough to draw people in to buy it?

Packaging and contents:

The BlackBerry Key2 comes in a black box that has the phone as well as the configuration that you picked prominently displayed on the front.

Once you open the box, you’ll see the device itself, as well as a charger, USB Type C cable and a pair of headphones.

Wonderfully retro

The BlackBerry Key2 has all the design elements that you’d expect from a company that kept us connected all those years ago. That textured, matte black finish on the rear that Titos loved with their old BlackBerries is on the Key2, which is a refreshing change from all the glass and plastic builds on most phones today.

The phone uses two rear cameras, much like most phones released back in 2018. Both phones are 12-megapixels, with the primary sensor having a ƒ/1.8 aperture and 1.28?m pixels, and the secondary other with a ƒ/2.6 aperture and 1?m pixels. Both have PDAF.

The primary shooter is for normal shots, while the secondary sensor is for 2x zoom shots.

The phone feels sturdy and solid, no doubt thanks to that series 7 aluminum that the frame is made out of.

Since the Key2 is a BlackBerry phone, a squished QWERTY keyboard dominates 1/3 of the front, with the rest devoted to the 4.5-inch LCD display running a custom 3:2 aspect ratio with a 1080 x 1620 resolution.

The right side of the phone is extremely busy, with the volume rocker, power button and convenience key all located on this side. The left side holds the SIM slot.

The convenience key is just that – a key that you can program to launch any app or shortcut you want, as well as program three customizable profiles that you can further tweak.

On the top of the phone is the 3.5mm jack, while the bottom holds the USB Type-C port and two speaker grilles.

Moving on to the keyboard of the Key2. Yes, it’s a little squished together, but again that’s pretty much what you’d expect from a BlackBerry phone. But let me tell you, as someone that went through a time where people used nothing but BlackBerries, I loved the feeling of having a physical keyboard again.

Of course, it does take a little getting used to, since I’m used to typing on virtual keyboards, not IRL ones.

The fingerprint scanner is integrated into the spacebar button which is convenient, and the entire keyboard acts like a big trackpad when you’re scrolling through your Facebook or Reddit feed.

The screen has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which means you can fit more things vertically, which aids in productivity.

In fact, many of the features and functions of the BlackBerry Key2 is aimed at business professionals that want to be as productive as possible while on the move.

There’s a Productivity Tab on the right side, giving you quick access to calendar events, tasks and other stuff that you need to keep track of. DTEK, a security suite that’s built into the device, monitors the overall health and security of the device, scanning processes in the background constantly in a bid to keep the phone secure.

As for the actual hardware runningthe show, the Key 2 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 660, paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

That’s not a bad processor choice, though considering the phone’s price (we’ll get to that later) some prospective users may balk at the idea of handing over wads of money for what is essentially a phone that is powered by a mid-range chipset.

Adding to that particular complication is the fact that the device still runs on Android Oreo 8.1 when most other phones in its price range are already running Android 9 Pie.

BlackBerry also has a spotty record when it comes to providing software updates, and the fact that they still haven’t released an Android 9 update this far into the phone’s lifespan is a little concerning.

Because of the Key2’s niche audience, it’s not really going to be available everywhere. MemoXpress lists it at Php 39,990, which is pretty pricey for a phone that’s almost 10 months old.

Then again the Key2’s target market is quite different, though we’re not convinced that productivity-focused individuals will cough up what is basically flagship-level cash for a phone that has a physical keyboard and a mid-range processor.

BlackBerry Key2 Specs:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor
  • 6GB of RAM
  • 4.5-inch IPS display, 4:3 aspect ratio, 1080 x 1620 resolution
  • 128GB of storage
  • 12-megapixel main camera with f/1.8 aperture lens, PDAF, 12-megapixel secondary
  • zoom camera with f/2.6 aperture lens, PDAF
  • 8-megapixel front camera with f/2.0 aperture lens
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, Fingerprint scanner, Physical keyboard, USB Type-C
  • 3500mAh battery
  • Android 8.1 Oreo

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    Hi, is there any chance that there’ll be an actual display unit in one of TCL’s stores sometime?
    I’ve been a good fan for serious business phone solutions that only Blackberry can provide.