Key Operator: The BlackBerry Key 2 review
Friday, June 29, 2018 at 8:17AM
Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla in Android, BlackBerry, BlackBerry Key 2, Buyers Guide, Canada, Events and Launches, Product launch, Reviews

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

BlackBerry Mobile, which is owned by TCL Communications, has proven that there's a niche of smartphone users who want keyboards. More importantly, it shows that there is still innovation and evolution in keyboard-focused devices.

The BlackBerry KEY2, takes the ideas and design of the BlackBerry KEYOne and pushes them forward in a sleeker, more powerful and upgraded QWERTY keyboard smartphone.

Tapping into its heritage, BlackBerry has used the Bold 9600’s keyboard as the inspiration for the KEY2. Which now has a larger and even more responsive QWERTY keyboard. All the tricks and features are present, including the ability to use the keyboard as a trackpad and the flick-typing functionality for predictive text completion.

The lighter and more chiseled design feels more balanced than the KEYOne.  The Series 7 aluminum frame and textured soft grip back looks more elegant and easy to hold specially if you have smaller hands.

Personally, I prefer the weight and balance of the older KEYOne, but I value all the new features as well as the clean new design of the KEY2.

From a design standpoint, The KEY2 represents a generational leap in design and construction. It is subtle but appreciated with visible and tactile improvements.

Keyboard evolution

The biggest change is the keyboard which has keys that are 20 percent larger for greater accuracy. There's also that dual 12-megapixel camera for 2X zoom and portrait mode shots. There's 6 GB of RAM standard now which should help in multitasking and running more demanding apps. 

Personally, I’ve moved away from needing to type on a physical keyboard since using the predictive software keyboards on iPhones and Android devices has improved dramatically. I’ve also found voice transcription to make more sense since it is faster and quite accurate.

That said, there is a purposeful sensation to using the KEY2’s keyboard that forces me to craft emails, tweets and responses more carefully. Almost as if the mechanical nature of the input requires a little more care.

So, while it no longer is the fastest way for me to input text, it is still a delightful and more thoughtful experience.

A new Speed Key now enables even more functionality by way of offering combination shortcuts that users can program. Press the Speed Key and a letter and you can launch an app, without even needing to go to the home screen to search for it. Users can map the shortcut keyboard any way they want.

This reinforces BlackBerry's focus on productivity and on getting things done quickly and efficiently. The Speed Key extends the ability to personalize your BlackBerry KEY2 experience and make it your own.

In a matter of days, I’ve been able to map and memorize various shortcuts that have helped me avoid needing to go to the home screen at all. This results in less fiddling around and more getting things done, which is the point.

BlackBerry Hub is still a productivity demon and puts all your accounts and apps into perspective and organizes them accordingly. It is a one-stop app for all your communications and still the most efficient way to triage incoming messages, notifications and updates.

Private Locker is an application that requires a user's thumbprint to hide and access private photos and videos as well as files. This is to store and protect sensitive user data, ideal for people who might use their phone for work but also for home. This is a good way to hide sensitive files so that your kids don't erase them by mistake.

The best thing about Private Locker is how easy it is to use and how seamless it is to deploy when you want to store sensitive data on the device but not on the cloud. No other device I have used does this at this level. The Privacy Shade feature, which limits potential snooping, can also blot out text on screen shot in Redactor Mode.

Dual Camera delivers

Next to the new keyboard, the dual camera will be this generation’s biggest feature. The KEYOne has a formidable camera that matched the best Android flagships of its time. The KEY2 is even more versatile with the ability to shoot both portrait mode shots as well as 2 X Zoom in photo and video mode. KEY2 doesn’t have Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and this omission is quickly felt when trying to take videos moving and also in low-light conditions.

The KEY2’s cameras are great in daytime, well-lit and flash conditions but can fall apart in low-light situations.

The BlackBerry KEY2 is a truly modern Android smartphone with all the tentpole features, power and security to keep the resurgent brand afloat.

Key 2 brings more power and performance in a sleeker form-factor and the best QWERTY keyboard BlackBerry has shipped.

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Article originally appeared on Reviews, News and Opinion with a Canadian Perspective (
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