BlackBerry goes back to QWERTY with new KEY2 device


Phone manufacturer TCL Communication, which licenses the BlackBerry brand, unveiled the KEY2 at an event in New York City on Thursday. With a "hardened" operating system to defend against attacks, the KEY2 is described by TCL Communication as "the most secure Android smartphone". The keyboard-toting flagship brings a number of new features. Companies were forced to amend policies to meet Europe's new privacy law and Facebook has faced questions over its sharing of user data. It's competing with devices like the OnePlus 6, and so the KEY2 could be a tough sell to anyone that's not already a fan of BlackBerry phones and physical keyboards, especially considering the KEY2's lack of Band 71 LTE support.

And as was the case with the KeyOne, it comes bundled with BlackBerry's security and productivity software. Anything saved in them won't be uploaded to the cloud, even if you have an app like Google Photos set to backup automatically, and you can only open the folders by scanning your fingerprint. This is a security-focused Android smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard and it succeeds the KEYone.

BlackBerry is keeping its physical keyboard, a long-standing feature that once saw it dominate the smartphone market. Starting price for the phone is $649. Dual-cameras are now ubiquitous, and TCL has accordingly packed two 12MP shooters into the Key2.

"They're mostly through the lens of a one size fits all for design", said Lejeune.

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The KEY2 has dual 12MP rear cameras, better image stabilization and faster autofocus.

The Key2 runs Android 8.1 Oreo, and is part of the Android Enterprise Recommended program, which means users will get monthly updates. Providing juice is a huge 3,500 mAh battery which supports Quick Charge 3.0. 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. The KEY2 will be available in Canada this month at $828, although no release date has been made public.

But if you want to see the event and can't be there in person you can still tune into the livestream when it all kicks off at 10am EDT / 7am PDT / 3PM BST / 12am (June 8) AEST. TCL was not given the opportunity to put restrictions on the content or review it prior to publication.