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Review: BlackBerry KEY2 LE  

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Following up the success of the premium BlackBerry KEY2 with a very similar, more affordable and mid-range focused handset is a brilliant move by BlackBerry Mobile.

The company has brought back the brand awareness attached to the BlackBerry name, the modern Android -powered BlackBerry handsets are solid, well-built, and feature rich.

The new BlackBerry KEY2 LE, looks like a dead ringer for the more premium KEY2. It has the same 4.5-inch touch display and features the familiar physical QWERTY keyboard.

The midrange KEY2 LE’s keyboard looks and feels as precise and responsive as the KEY2’s but loses the capacitive trackpad feature and the swipe to complete gesture which is a bit of a bummer.

BlackBerry Mobile also cut back on the materials. We now have polycarbonate instead of aluminum for the frame and the dappled surface of the rear is more functional than stylish. There’s also a less powerful mid-range processor and 2 GB of RAM less than the KEY2.

You also get less onboard storage, which isn’t a big deal since you can assign a microSD card for additional storage for files, photos and videos. You also get less battery life than the KEY2 but from my experience the KEY2 LE can last through the day and well into the evening with moderate to heavy use.

This just means that spec wise, the KEY2 LE may be less future proof and might struggle in the future when more demanding apps and services become available. These are the corners that were cut in order to make and sell a cheaper KEY2 and they are acceptable given the price.

I like the slate colour of the KEY2 LE, which is a subtle grey and blue hue that’s muted yet more attractive than black or silver. It isn’t as dramatic as the bright red ‘atomic’ variant, which is inexplicably not being sold in Canada, so it looks like they’re playing it safe colour-wise.

All the software advantages of owning a BlackBerry device are on tap. This includes the awesome BlackBerry Hub, which collects all your email, messaging and social accounts into one app plus the various privacy and security apps that make KEY2 phones some of the safest Android devices out there.

The 13MP + 5MP dual real camera with dual tone LED flash work great and are fast to deploy. They can manage 4K video recording.

The 8MP fixed focus front camera with selfie flash can manage 1080p video recording. These cameras are impressive for most types of photography and it is great to see the portrait mode come to the mid-range of the smartphone market.

For anyone pining for a BlackBerry keyboard on a more affordable device or people seeking a second smartphone designed specifically for messaging, the BlackBerry KEY2 LE hits a lot of the sweet spot features from the KEY 2.

Rating: 4 out of 5


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