BlackBerry unveils the KEY2

BlackBerry has officially unveiled its TCL-manufactured KEY2 smartphone, featuring a physical keyboard, Android operating system and dual rear camera.

BlackBerry has officially revealed the KEY2, its latest flagship smartphone, featuring the physical keyboard that made the brand’s name when the devices were in their infancy.

It follows the KEYone, launched last year, which was part of the company’s attempt at taking back some of the market share it had lost to rivals like Apple and Samsung. The company has entrusted the manufacturing of its smartphones to TCL as it has chosen to focus on software and security solutions.

Now, with the KEY2, BlackBerry looks like it is attempting to keep up with demand. In a statement, TCL called it the “most advanced BlackBerry smartphone yet”, highlighting that it comes with BlackBerry’s “best security and privacy enhancements”, as well as “a number of features that are firsts for any BlackBerry smartphone”.

What does the KEY2 offer?

BlackBerry has packed the KEY2 with the Android 8.1 Oreo. The choice of operating system (OS) is a recent decision, with the company adopting Android in 2017, with the release of the KEYone.

The KEY2 is the first BlackBerry smartphone to feature a dual rear camera, a feature being implemented by most manufacturers today. It also includes the introduction of Speed Key, a universal shortcut key allowing users to instantly access the apps, contacts, and functions they use most from anywhere on the device at any time.

It has a 4.5-inch 1620 x 1080 touch display, a 3,500mAh battery that supports Quick Charge 3.0, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor. It comes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage.

A new experience?

Alain Lejeune, senior vice president of TCL Communication and president of BlackBerry Mobile, said: “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.

"With the introduction of BlackBerry KEY2, we've created a distinct smartphone that captures all the traits that have made BlackBerry smartphones iconic, while introducing new innovations and experiences that not only make this one of the best devices for security and privacy, but also the most advanced BlackBerry smartphone ever."

Will it succeed?

Whether users will see BlackBerry’s KEY2 as a viable alternative to their current smartphones remains to be seen. The company did not set the market alight with the KEYone, and its upgrade may struggle in the face of competition from the upcoming iPhone and Samsung Note 9.

However, its comparatively low recommended selling price of £579 may be enough to convince many.

The BlackBerry Key2 will be available for purchase later this month.

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