BlackBerry goes back to QWERTY with new KEY2 device

BlackBerry Key2 specs, photos leak ahead of June 7 reveal

Unveiled in NY today, the TCL-made smartphone delivers what we've come to expect from the BlackBerry brand of late: the combination of a touchscreen and a QWERTY keyboard in a minimalistically-handsome design, along with the latest version of Google's OS.

As we've learned to expect, the phone features a physical keyboard (fingerprint sensor is still in the space bar, it's now backlit, and key height has been increased by 20 percent), Android 8.1 Oreo (the KeyOne was the first BlackBerry Android phone to run the latest version, and the Key2 is keeping up with that trend), Google apps, the Play Store, and monthly security updates, plus BlackBerry's additional security, privacy, and productivity tools. The BlackBerry Key2 is both slimmer and lighter than the BlackBerry KeyOne, has a larger 4.5-inch display that's almost edge-to-edge, and has a larger physical keyboard. There's also a new button called the Speed Key, which acts as a shortcut button to quickly switch between apps.

"Although there are many different smartphones for consumers to choose from today, most tend to offer very similar experiences without much distinction from one to the next", Alain Lejeune, senior vice president of TCL Communication and president of Blackberry Mobile, said in a statement. In an era where the all-touchscreen form-factor reigns supreme, it's really impressive that the KEY2 will continue to win over people with its portrait style physical keyboard.

BlackBerry is going back to basics with its new device.

BlackBerry has also added a new "Speed Key" to the Key2 which can be used for customizable functions.

Last year's Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor and measly 3GB RAM have been replaced with a Snapdragon 660 and impressive 6GB RAM. The KEY2 also comes preloaded with a DTEK app that shows the phone's overall security rating and provides insight into how apps are using data, as well as managing app permissions. Firefox Focus, Mozilla's privacy browser, is present too. The model that would come to India, in July, will be made by Optiemus Infracom. Although the KEY2 will be available for buying in the West this month, in global markets (including in India), the phone will be available for buying in July, BlackBerry has confirmed. The BlackBerry KEY2 will start at $649, and you can register for pre-order updates here.

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