BlackBerry Key 2 LE review: A popular key change

ByLinky Johnson 2019-06-02 490

We are not the biggest fan of the original BlackBerry Key 2 (or BlackBerry KeyOne, for that matter), but it seems that the BlackBerry TCL has been paying attention to its critics. It launched the mid-update of Key 2 - BlackBerry Key 2 LE - which solved one of our major problems; namely price. The original Key 2 was up to 482 pounds before the tax, considering its various shortcomings, this is a huge sum.

On the other hand, Key 2 LE was a more palatable £291 before VAT - saving nearly £200. However, is this healthy price cut sufficient to justify its existence?

BlackBerry Key 2 LE: Design

The design of Key 2 LE is actually quite smart, and we find ourselves increasingly enjoying it when we use it as our primary phone. This is definitely different. In a time when the phone screen is good for 18:9 or higher, the 3:2 aspect ratio display is a bold move, although not as bold as using a 35-key keyboard to occupy the top two-fifth of the bottom. It is separated from the screen by a bezel with an off-screen capacitive navigation button.

The rest of the design is also very good. The top of the case is neatly placed with curved corners at the bottom, so you should not grab the lining of the pocket. The entire phone is covered with smart champagne gold trim.

Turn it over and you'll find a rubber back that feels more handy and feels fresher than your opponent. The familiar BlackBerry logo is imprinted on silver in two-thirds and has a dual camera on top.

You can purchase a dual SIM version that supports up to 256GB microSD cards. It's not waterproof - there's a lot of gap between these little keys - but it does retain the headphone jack, just like the good old days.

BlackBerry Key 2 LE: Keyboard

We have never seen the appeal of tiny buttons like the one I'm playing in the world's most boring Whack-A-Mole mini-game. In fact, we only type on the phone as an absolute last resort. Therefore, it is surprising to find that you like to use the keyboard of the BlackBerry Key 2 LE. We can certainly see this attraction, even if part of this attraction is a buzz that looks important when you tap a small email.

The key spacing is large enough, and there are very few typos, although it has the strange side effect of letting us see the fingers, not the words that appear on the screen. In addition, adding a comma and a question mark requires first pressing the tiny "alt" button. If (like us) you are the kind of person who insists on perfect grammar in the text, it is too boring.

In general, the predicted text will jump to the exact location you want, provide meaningful suggestions and add an apostrophe to save the frustrating alt-key dance. The fingerprint reader is also embedded in the spacebar, which is a good touch and works fine. Unfortunately, the space bar cannot be doubled as the home button.

A noteworthy reduction compared to the full price Key 2 is that the keyboard is no longer touch sensitive. This means you can't use it as a touchpad for scrolling through web pages, and it doesn't allow you to toggle the word you want to select. However, you can still set a key as a shortcut to launch your app.

Will we choose it via the touch screen keyboard? No, but before we picked up the BlackBerry Key 2 LE, it was a phone closer than we thought. The decisive factor is twofold: First, we missed brushing our words and we still found the fastest way to enter text in a hurry. Second, we found that to type at any speed on the BlackBerry, we need to use two thumbs. This makes text messaging and walking almost impossible, and if you are late and need to tell others, it is really painful.

BlackBerry Key 2 LE: Display

Two years ago, the aspect ratio of mobile phones began to grow larger, and most of them became long and thin at 18:9 instead of the old ones of 16:9. The resurrected BlackBerry doesn't play these games at all, just put a 3:2, 4.5-inch touchscreen on top of the keyboard.

This makes the interaction with the application significantly more awkward. Even if you press the home page, back or menu button, you will need to lift your thumb over the keyboard, which sounds dizzy.

However, in all other respects, using the screen is a pleasant experience. It's an IPS panel with a resolution of 1,620 x 1,080, which means you get an image density of 434ppi. Even better, it covers 98.5% of the sRGB spectrum, which is 5% more expensive than its more expensive counterparts, and it achieves a peak brightness of 470 cd / m2 compared to 397 cd / m2 of Key 2.

BlackBerry Key 2 LE: Camera

On paper, the camera spec looks better than the original Key 2, but don't get it wrong: this is a downgrade that is disguised as an upgrade. Yes, it is now 13 million pixels compared to the original 12 million pixels, but the aperture of f / 1.8 is larger and is now f / 2.2. To make matters worse, the sensor size has been reduced from 1 / 2.3in to 1 / 3.1in, which means quite a little concentration potential.

Our complaint about Key 2 is repeated here: the smoothing effect seems to apply to post-processing, making areas of similar colors look dirty. This assumes that you remain perfectly still after pressing the capture button. If you don't do this, the result will be a blurred image. It can be said that this makes our Instagram photography hobby almost impossible.

BlackBerry Key 2 LE: Specifications and Performance

The new BlackBerry Key 2 LE comes in three configurations. For a price of £349, you can buy a gray single card, 32GB version. An extra £50 can double the storage space to 64GB and give you a dual card - and choose the "Champagne Gold" or "Atomic Red" color.

All three products include the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, compared to the Snapdragon 660 inside Key 2. Both are eight-core chips, but the clock speed difference between them is 400MHz. Although the Key 2 has 6GB of RAM, the Key 2 LE must match 4GB. So what does this mean in practice?

The good news is that it is not far from the non-LE version of Geekbench 4. You may occasionally encounter a memory cap. The software warned me that I need to close something to make it perform better. However, in general, the difference should not be so different.

The elephant in the room is a good way to make money with a non-Blackberry phone. The Xiaomi Pocophone F1 wipes the floor with two BlackBerrys, but it costs £330, while the Nokia 8.1 is £30 cheaper than the BlackBerry Key 2 LE and is more comfortable than it.

In comparison, in our video playback test, Key 2 LE lasted only 13 hours and 18 minutes, and battery life was equally frustrating. Confusingly, this is 12 minutes longer than Key 2, although it has a smaller battery of 500mAh, which may be lower than low-power internal components.

BlackBerry Key 2 LE: Software and features

Of course, the phone is not just a benchmark, but the most impressive thing about Key 2 LE is the software. It's a very good-looking Android version with some BlackBerry-specific styles.

Some of them are purely cosmetic. We like the charging bar around the edge of the screen when you plug in your phone, and the tiled app that appears when you tap the menu button, but other features are more useful.

BlackBerry Messenger may be a special return in 2019, but BlackBerry's DTEK is a useful privacy and security checker, and there are other great tools for privacy and business awareness. Privacy shadows darken the entire screen, except for a single-line window that can be dragged with your fingers, which means that sensitive emails are safe for people reading the shoulders. Redactor is also useful, allowing you to paste a thick black line into your screenshot before sending it, eliminating the secret of snooping.

BlackBerry Key 2 LE: Judgment

Should you buy a BlackBerry in 2019? We don't recommend it. In the past decade, touch-screen keyboards have come a long way, and physical keyboards feel like a relic that is more susceptible than it is now. However, only you can know if you are willing to sacrifice the quality and overall performance of the camera in exchange for the (arguable) convenience of the physical keyboard.

But if the phone you want is a bit different, then you might be worse than the BlackBerry Key 2 LE. In general, TCL's cutting of the original Key 2 has been done in the right place, resulting in a better overall package. Yes, you can add a keyboard cover for the Samsung Galaxy S8 for a better overall Android experience, but if you prefer everything in the BlackBerry flavor, then Key 2 LE is worth a try.

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