Is there a place for a smartphone with a physical QWERTY keyboard? It seems so. Announced globally last month, the BlackBerry KEY2 has now landed in Malaysia. The premium mid-range device goes on sale starting 12 July 2018 at Shopee and through Brightstar authorised resellers.
Seeing that bezel-less, fullscreen smartphones are all the rage these days, the BlackBerry KEY2 seems out of place with its comparatively miniscule display and physical keyboard.
That said, there’s a kind of nostalgic beauty to it. Stand out even. And just as Nokia is playing the throwback card with the iconic 3310 and 8110 feature phones, BlackBerry does it with the second generation KEY device.
From the offset, the KEY2 will look familiar. It’s like the original KEYOne – candybar design with a Series 7 aluminium frame and a soft touch back. The newly-designed back has a diamond pattern that does look good.
Unmistakably BlackBerry? Yes. Only it’s designed and made by TCL Corporation, owners of BlackBerry since 2016.
So, here’s what the KEY2 offers. There’s a familiar 4.5-inch 3:2 FHD (1080×1620) scratch-resistant IPS LCD display, protected by Gorilla Glass.
Then there’s the octa-core Snapdragon 660 chip, an upper mid-tier SoC in Qualcomm’s new crop of SoCs, coupled with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (Malaysia only gets one storage config, no sign of the 128GB). Storage is of course expandable via microSD.
It’s a dual-SIM device by the way but uses a hybrid slot so you’ll either have two SIMs or one SIM with a microSD card.
That aside, there’s a large 3,500mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 support, and it charges up via USB Type-C.
For the first time ever, the BlackBerry gets a dual-camera system comprising a 12MP f/1.8 shooter with a 12MP f/1.8 secondary telephoto shooter. It’s capable of 2X optical zoom and in tandem give the KEY2 the ability to shoot portrait bokeh shots.
On the front, the device offers an 8MP selfie shooter.
And now let’s get to the beef.
BlackBerry says the keyboard on the KEY2 is better than the KEYOne, with taller keys and better feel. The keyboard doubles as a touchpad and there’s a fingerprint sensor built into the spacebar. That’s pretty cool.
There’s a speed key added to the mix and it works like a Function key where you can program up to 52 possible combinations.
The keyboard isn’t all that’s great about the KEY2. It also offers BlackBerry’s renowned security features. In fact, the KEY2 might just be the most secure smartphone you can buy out there today. Riding on its DTEK platform, the KEY2 boasts military-grade security, encryption and privacy.
Read more about the BlackBerry KEY2 in this previous post.
Pricing and availability
The BlackBerry KEY2 retails for MYR2,599 and will go on sale starting 12 July 2018 on Shopee and Brightstar authorised resellers. That aside, Shopee will be hosting a special Shocking Sale for the device from 9AM onwards on 12 July where you can buy the phone for MYR2,449. Additionally, you’ll get a free Bluetooth headset worth MYR109.