BlackBerry KEY2 stays true to original design

TCL launches the BlackBerry Key2 for $649

The Canadian handset maker, BlackBerry launched the successor to its iconic KEYone (review), dubbed KEY2, at an event in NY today.

There's also a new shortcut key, which replaces the right shift button on the keyboard, and a new "Smart Battery Experience" that TCL say will learn from your daily charging habits and recommend when to charge up so you have enough battery life to make it through your next meeting.

Termed "the most powerful BlackBerry ever", Alain Lejeune, President, BlackBerry Mobile at TCL Communication, described the phone as the "most secured phone" as well. The new handset comes with sensible improvements over its predecessor, such as a larger keyboard with more responsive keys, dual cameras and more.

As for the software aspect of the BlackBerry KEY2, it is expected to natively run Android 8.1 Oreo and support Google Assistant. This premium smartphone is actually an upgraded version of the BlackBerry KeyOne that was launched a year ago.

We have received official word from BlackBerry Mobile that the KEY2 will be coming to South Africa, but as yet we have not exact dates or pricing.

Its specifications - a Snapdragon 660 processor, 64 and 128 GB variants, 6 GB of Ram, expandable storage - leaked a day ahead of its NY launch. The selfie camera is an 8MP sensor with display flash. The new Speed Key lets you launch any app while you are in another app by using the combination of this key and the key that you assigned to any app.

There are some changes to the physical keyboard as well.

The phone comes with BlackBerry's iconic QWERTY keyboard and is the successor to the BlackBerry KEYone which was launched in 2017. Android Central noted that one of the exciting details about the upcoming BlackBerry KEY2 is the fact that it will not join the "notch" bandwagon. The fingerprint scanner remains in the space bar, a brilliant location for it.

Both offer expandable storage thanks to MicroSD support. The rear camera is capable of shooting 4K videos at 30fps and 1080p videos at 60fps.

Back in 2009, having a BlackBerry was a thing as the brand was quite mighty at the time. BlackBerry KEY2 is the first BlackBerry smartphone to sport a dual camera setup. Rather than the chunky, rounded frame of the KeyOne, the Key2 has a slimmer, more square appearance that gives it a much classier aesthetic.

The BlackBerry phone comes in two color options - Silver and Black with an identically textured back.

European Blackberry fans will be able to get the Blackberry Key2 sometime in June for a price of 579 Euros, or 579 pounds for those in the UK.