Blackberry Key2 review: sticking to old tricks


The Key2 has an impressive battery life; but the main features of this phone, as you’d expect from BlackBerry, lie in its security and the physical keyboard.

There’s a simple to use in-built DTEK security app that scans the device. Most people I know are pretty slack with security checks, so the easier it can be done, the better.

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DTEK also monitors apps, reporting on what information or features they are accessing on your phone — for example your calendar or your contacts — or if an app sends a text message or turns the microphone on.

Sometimes of course this is fine, such as when a sketching app uses your camera or a map app uses your location, but I like to know what some of these social media and communication apps are accessing.

There’s also the fabulous Locker app that keeps all your private photos and documents in a password or fingerprint protected area.

Despite the satisfying clicking sound they make, I must confess the benefits of having a physical keyboard are a mystery to me. I prefer a virtual keyboard that just appears when I need it, and in a layout that suits the application. For example, this physical keyboard has no dedicated emoji, .com, or @ keys.

Also it’s vulnerable; a mechanical keyboard leaves itself open to food spills, dirt and debris.

Physical keyboards also take up potential screen space. And this 4.5-inch screen has a 3:2 aspect ratio, so videos don’t fill it up completely.

However, the keyboard does have some great features, most notably a Speed Key that creates shortcuts to apps. For example you can program the ‘B’ key to launch Beanhunter, ‘I’ for Instagram, and so on, without returning to the home screen or swiping through apps.

The keyboard also acts as a trackpad to scroll or swipe and, in a nifty double duty, the space bar is also the fingerprint reader.

There are two 12-megapixel lenses on the back of the Key2, and an 8-megapixel lens on the front, but overall the camera experience is less impressive than you might expect at this pricepoint.

Daytime shots are fine, could be crisper, but produced clear shots of my backyard with colours reasonably true; and the detail of every hand drawn crack on an Eamonn Jackson print of a pair of thongs is sharp. My fruit bowl also looked insta worthy, with a riot of colours faithfully represented. Colour and clarity is better than expected in low light.

However, with selfies the detail is just not there and while my skin has a warm glow, it looks washed out.

It might seem like a radical idea for BlackBerry, but I’d prefer to see an alternative phone that keeps the enhanced security features, improves the camera and loses the famed keyboard.

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