With a larger keyboard and improved camera, Blackberry has a brand new smartphone on the market; it’s the Blackberry Key2. I recently got my hands on a unit for a few weeks to try it out.
Blackberry KEY2 review
The keyboard is definitely one of the key upgrades to the hardware on the device. With larger keys than the KEYone, and a new matte key finish, the KEY2 has been changed up to give you a more comfortable and accurate typing experience.
The keyboard is actually 20% larger while keeping much of the existing screen size. The keys are also raised ever so slightly higher than the KEYone, meaning they’re a bit easier to type on. The keyboard gives you a built-in hidden fingerprint scanner for security, making access convenient and easy.
I did quite like the new typing experience and did find it a bit easier to type on without fat-fingering my way to autocorrect errors. The keys just feel better and more natural, and they’re also kind of flatter and less rounded, again contributing to that easier typing experience.
Blackberry Speed Key or Universal Shortcut Key
A new addition to the keyboard is something called the Speed Key, which gives users fast shortcut access to any app you want.
No longer do you need to head back to the home screen to access favourite apps. Speed Key can be configured to search in an app folder or to access certain apps, or link to contacts and functions you use most often. You’re supposed to be able to just press Speed Key along with any of your up to 52 chosen customizable shortcuts.
How to set up Blackberry Speed Key
To get it set up, you’ll want to pay attention to the introductory tour when you’re first getting your Blackberry set up. Speed Key appears to actually be called the Universal Shortcut Key, and that’s what you’ll need to look for if you skipped this set at set up. You can also edit your shortcuts in the Blackberry Launcher settings.
I had a tough time figuring out how to use the key and how to get it set up. Eventually I was able to figure it out; here’s what to do.
The first time you push the Speed Key it should give you a set up option. You’ll be taken to a menu that gives you choices about which keys to assign certain shortcuts. You can also switch them up by using a long press of the Speed Key and letter key for one command, which a short press of the Speed Key and that same letter can offer you a different shortcut.
If you missed all this on set up, just navigate to Settings> Shortcuts and Gestures>Keyboard Shortcuts.
Keyboard doubles as trackpad
A very handy feature of the keyboard is that it doubles as a trackpad. it’s a bit of a weird sensation, particularly if you’re used to using a screen-only smartphone. That said, it works well and is quite responsive and skims down lists or webpages with ease. Of course you can also move around the page using the responsive touch screen.
There’s a fingerprint scanner for access built into the keyboard, specifically into the space bar. It’s quite responsive and fast. If you pick up your phone with your thumb over the keyboard, it’s going to already be open by the time it’s up in front of you.
Camera improvements on Blackberry Key2
Improvements have also come to the camera on the new KEY2. For the first time ever on a Blackberry, a dual rear 12 mp camera lets you take more beautiful photos, particularly when using selfie mode.
The photos do look better than I remember the KEYone photos. The pictures are sharp and detailed and look vibrant and realistic. You’re going to be really happy with them.
The 12MP dual rear cameras allow for advances in auto white balance, faster auto focus,
improved image stabilization too. That’s not stuff I noticed specifically enough to measure and compare, but it’s good to know.
Video shot on the Blackberry Key2 is clear and crisp and vibrant. It’s video you’ll be proud to show off.
Blackberry Key2 has long battery life
Blackberry lately is known for its long battery life, and the trend continues with the KEY2. Boasting up to two days of battery life, it’s astounding how long you can go between charges.
I tested out the battery life of the Key2 by charging it fully, then letting it sit, unused on my desk. Two days of battery is just about right in this case. I left it fully charged up on Wednesday morning and when I came back to it Friday morning it was indeed dead. So that’s about 48 hours of life doing nothing; assuming you actually use it normally, it’ll probably run out a lot faster.
BlackBerry KEY2 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, has 6GB of memory and up to 128GB of storage, and it runs the Android operating system. Android™ 8.1 Oreo gives you access to built-in experiences like Google Assistant and Google Lens.
Blackberry Hub is back; not my favourite
The Key2 also brings back BlackBerry Hub, which lets you collect all your messages, emails and social feeds into one consolidated inbox. Read more about that feature in the KEYone review here.
While I understand the intention behind this function, I don’t love it, and have written previously about why; I don’t like having all my social feeds, important business emails and texts lumped into one platform. The way I work, I focus on emails, while social stuff is for fun, and texts are for family. I don’t like mixing them If anyone out there has different feelings on the Hub, I’d love to hear why you like it. maybe I’m appreciating it all wrong.
Security & privacy on Blackberry Key2
Security continues to be huge for Blackberry. They Key2 continues its reputation as an ultra secure device with several privacy features like Privacy Shade, Firefox Focus private browser and the private Locker app for storing your secrets.
Overall thoughts on Blackberry Key2 smartphone
There’s a lot to like about the new blackberry Key 2; Users of the Android OS will love seeing that same functionality in the Key2, but Apple converts may need to take some time to adapt.
But overall the phone is fast, responsive, secure, takes great photos and videos and has the ultimate in privacy and security if that’s what you need.
The phone is slim and has a decent size screen, even though you’re losing lots of real estate for the keyboard. If you loved your old BBY keyboard, you’ll love this one even more.
If I found any downsides, it’s that some of the features were hard to figure out how to set up. It didn’t seem as intuitive as some other devices I’ve tried.
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