Phones with physical keyboards aren’t for everyone, but for the few people that still want that form factor really want it. BlackBerry is still catering to that niche, however small it may be, and today they’ve officially announced the KEY2.
The KEY2 is packing a newer Snapdragon 660 CPU with 6GB of RAM, which should offer some significant performance improvements over the previous iteration. There are 64 and 128GB storage options, the battery didn’t take a hit, and there’s Quick Charge 3.0 included this time around, plus your typical upgrades to Bluetooth 5.0 and the like.
The keyboard has been slightly refined on the KEY2, which is good since that’s literally the single defining feature of the phone. Key height has increased by 20% for better comfort and better accuracy, and there’s a new speed button that allows you to access up to 52 customizable shortcuts such as frequently used apps or favorite contacts. It’s old school, but man, it’s a breath of fresh air after all the notches we’ve seen this year.
The camera is a big selling point for BlackBerry here, as the KEY2 offers the first dual-camera system on a BlackBerry phone ever. There’s a 12-megapixel main shooter with a secondary 12-megapixel camera that offers 2x optical zoom and enables portrait mode. The front-facing camera picks up its own flash, too.
Privacy and security are staples of the BlackBerry brand, so of course you can expect some new features on that side, too. The software itself is more secure than your typical Android device thanks to some proprietary BlackBerry security technology, and the DTEK app will give you a quick glance at the security of your entire device. You can see which apps are accessing your data and quickly control permissions without having to sift through tons of settings.
The phone itself will begin shipping later this month for a recommended $649 price point. That puts the KEY2 right in line with other flagship phones that, on paper, do beat it pretty handily. Will that keyboard and BlackBerry’s serious focus on security be enough to help it stand out? I hope so, anyway. I want to keep seeing these weird keyboard devices over the next few years.