BlackBerry KEY2 with box

The quick take

The BlackBerry KEY2 arrives as the successor to the award-winning BlackBerry KEYone and is the second QWERTY device released through the TCL/BlackBerry partnership. Rather than making a huge leap and changing everything, the KEY2 improves upon the KEYone base with updated internals for better performance, enhancements to the camera, and a more comfortable keyboard that packs new tricks with the introduction of the all-new Speed Key.

Whether you're picking up the KEY2 as an upgrade to your current BlackBerry, coming to BlackBerry for the first time, or returning out of fond memories you have of that BlackBerry you used to own and want to experience again instead of just another slab of a phone, the KEY2 brings a lot to the table with its modern design, built-in security and productivity and battery life.

Pros

  • One of the best BlackBerry keyboards ever built
  • Great battery life, easily takes you through a day
  • Solid, durable build quality but still light in the hand
  • Fingerprint Sensor is fast and accurate
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • 6GB of RAM

Cons

  • Button placement takes some getting used to
  • LCD could be brighter
  • 3.5mm headphone jack is off center
  • Camera not quite as good as other flagships but it's still improved
  • Even though the speaker has been improved, still not stereo
  • 128GB not available in all regions

BlackBerry KEY2 Hardware

BlackBerry KEY2 with box

Sometimes, in life, you never know what you want until it's presented to you. For over a year now I have been happily using my BlackBerry KEYone without any issues. Sure, I took a short break to use the BlackBerry Motion for a while, and I still pick it up now and then, but the KEYone has been my go-to device, and while I had some ideas about what I would like to see in the KEY2, I was comfortable in waiting until the time came for its arrival. Now that the KEY2 is here, I can say it was worth the wait and what BlackBerry Mobile has produced, is totally what I expected out of a successor to the KEYone for a multitude of reasons.

Rather than scrapping everything and starting from the ground up with the KEY2, BlackBerry Mobile wisely decided to take everything great about the KEYone and improve it while taking into account plenty of user feedback as well. With that in mind, the unboxing experience hasn't changed much here from KEYone to Motion to KEY2. You get the box adorned with the BlackBerry logos and all the relative specs listed on the back. Inside, you'll find the usual batch of kit which includes the quick-start guide, your warranty info as well as your travel charger, SIM removal tool, and USB-C cable. Additionally, you'll also find a pair of WH70 headphones that are BlackBerry branded. Hang onto them; they're surprisingly good for in-box headphones.

Rather than scrapping everything and starting from the ground up with the KEY2, BlackBerry Mobile wisely decided to take everything great about the KEYone and improve it.

If you're a KEYone owner moving into a KEY2 or have at least held a KEYone in the past, the first thing you'll notice when you unbox the KEY2 is that it's lighter than the KEYone. The KEYone comes in at 180g / 6.34 oz while the KEY2 comes in at 168g / 5.92 oz. The KEYone just feels denser compared the KEY2. Whether the lightness of the KEY2 is a good thing or a bad thing will depend on how you feel personally, but I don't mind it as it still feels solid in hand.

BlackBerry KEY2

The Series 7 aluminum frame helps ensure durability and makes the KEY2 overall look elegant whether you're rocking the silver or black version. The silver version, however, does really pop more than the black. That makes choosing between the two colors a little bit easier. I've reasoned it like this: If you want people to ask you about your KEY2 and to stand out a bit more, pick up the silver version. If you prefer not draw as much attention, then the black is the way to go. Either color looks great though and has their own appeal.

Once you rip off the plastic off the front, that once again features the BlackBerry shield design, you'll be looking for the power button to turn the KEY2 and notice all the buttons have now been moved to the right-hand side, not unlike the Motion. Everything is there, the volume up and down rockers, power button and Smart Convenience key. For current KEYone owners, that's a change that you're going to have to get used to, but it won't take long. All of the buttons are nice and clicky, and for the power button, which also acts as a quick launch button for the camera, BlackBerry Mobile decided to add textured grooves to it so you can differentiate it from others quickly. Nice touch! With all of the buttons moved to the right-hand side of the KEY2, there's only one thing on the left-hand side, and that's your MicroSD and SIM card slot, which is barely noticeable since it's nice and flush with the clean lines of the KEY2.

Once powered on and loaded up, on the front of the device you're looking at a 4.5-inch, 1620x1080 IPS LCD display hardened with Gorilla Glass 3 that reaches a total of 434PPI. In briefer words, under the hood, it's the exact same display that was used on the KEYone but built into the display housing better so that it offers an integrated look. The lines here are cleaner, more refined looking. There's nothing wrong with using that display; it has proven to be decent with colors being bright, while still offering plenty of battery efficiency. I did notice, however, that the brightness of the display seems to be limited here, not by the display itself but seemingly the OS which is now Android 8.1 Oreo. This is important to me because it doesn't help in direct sunlight. If the software allowed it to go a little bit brighter, it would be better in direct sunlight. But that would likely sacrifice some battery life as well. Also, Night Mode is now standard with options to enable it automatically, using a custom schedule, or set it to sunset to sunrise. You can also adjust the keyboard brightness while in Night Mode. It's a little feature but nice that that wasn't overlooked here.

Also on the front is where you'll find the front-facing 8MP fixed focus camera with an integrated selfie flash and capable of capturing 1080p HD video recording at 30FPS. Alongside the front-facing camera, if you look hard enough, you'll find the ambient light sensor. Of course, there's also the RGB light indicator that BlackBerry fans know and love. Interestingly, there is a change in the RGB light indicator. It 'pulses' slower and longer now. Not a huge change but I like it. The speaker grill on the front has changed as well compared to the KEYone. It's no longer just a multitude of holes in the housing. Now, it's more like the Motion. Integrated and smaller to keep out dust and dirt.

That iconic BlackBerry keyboard is right there and arguably, better than ever.

At the bottom, on the front of the KEY2 is the real draw. That iconic BlackBerry keyboard is right there and arguably, better than ever. For the KEY2, BlackBerry Mobile switched up the keyboard in a number of ways starting with the finish. Gone is the glossy finish found on the KEYone and in is the new matte finish that matches the overall design. The key height on KEY2 has been increased by 20 percent, and the spacing of the keys has been optimized to provide a more 'comfortable and accurate typing experience' according to BlackBerry Mobile. That's a remark I wholeheartedly agree with. During the launch, BlackBerry Mobile noted they took cues from the Bold 9900 keyboard to create the KEY2 keyboard right down to the 'clickiness,' and it shows.

KEY2, KEYone and Passport

That said, though, I do find similarities between the KEY2 and the BlackBerry Passport keyboard in the fact they feel flat, smooth and your fingers can glide across them with ease. Finally, there's the addition of the Speed Key, the first new key introduced on a BlackBerry keyboard in over a decade, but we'll save the further explanation of that for later on in the review. Just know, it's a fantastic addition! For security and access to Locker mode, there's also an improved fingerprint sensor at the bottom of the keyboard.

The key height on KEY2 has been increased by 20 percent, and the spacing of the keys has been optimized to provide a more comfortable and accurate typing experience.

Moving to the back of the KEY2, and you'll be greeted by a familiar but improved diamond shaped soft-touch back which feels great and helps ensure your KEY2 won't go slipping out of your hand. The back is also where you'll find the first dual-rear camera on a BlackBerry smartphone. Each camera is 12MP (F1.8 and F2.6), which helps enable Portrait Mode bokeh effects. Additionally, there's also 2X optical zoom, dual-tone flash, a built-in scanner for business cards, PowerPoint presentations, whiteboards, and documents. Also, BlackBerry Mobile has revamped the camera UI while still providing built-in filters, 4K video recording, slow-mo mode, and Google Lens integration.

On the very top of the BlackBerry KEY2 is where you'll find the still very much in place 3.5mm headphone jack and at the very bottom is where you'll find your USB-C charging port along with two speaker grilles. Looking at those grilles, you would assume they're stereo speakers but sadly, they are not. I know, that's going to be disappointing to some of you all out there, but there were improvements in that area. The speaker is now louder and to my ears at least, a bit crisper for watching videos and music playback, so yeah, it's not stereo, but it has improved overall.

BlackBerry KEY2 Specs and Features

Internally, the BlackBerry KEY2 features the Snapdragon 660 processor with 6GB of RAM standard this time around, and in my use over the last few days, I have found that it performs exceptionally well. Apps open nice and fast, even when moving between apps using the Speed Key.

Some of that can be attributed to improvements made in Android 8.1 Oreo which also now comes preloaded (Android P has been confirmed as coming eventually as well) and even with all the BlackBerry apps running on a daily basis, I don't have anything to complain about in regards to the performance of the BlackBerry KEY2. How well it holds up over time remains to be seen but through this review, all good!

Android P has been confirmed as coming to the BlackBerry KEY2.

As a phone, all the calls I have made have been perfectly fine. Nice and clear both ways. The speakerphone is nice and loud thanks to the improved speaker. When it comes to wireless connectivity, I haven't had any issues with hanging onto my T-Mobile connection outside of the norm. BlackBerry Mobile made improvements internally, so if you had connection issues on the KEYone, they should be largely resolved here as far as I can tell. Same goes for my WiFi, all good in testing.

Category KEY2
Operating System Android 8.1 Oreo
Display 4.5-inch, 1620x1080
IPS LCD
434ppi
3:2 aspect ratio
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
Octa-Core 2.2 GHz x 4 + 1.8GHz x 4
Adreno 512 GPU
RAM 6GB
Storage 64GB (Silver), 64GB (Black)
128GB (Black)
Expandable microSD up to 256GB
Rear Camera Dual Camera 12M (1.28um, F1.8) + 12M (1.0um, F2.6) with Dual Tone LED Flash
HDR, 4K video recording at 30 fps
Scan, Private Capture
Front Camera 8MP Fixed Focus
Selfie flash
1080p/30 video
Battery 3500 mAh non-removable
Charging USB-C
Compatible with USB Power Delivery 2.0 v1.2 & 9V2A 18W Quick Charge 3.0 Chargers
Water resistance No
Headphone jack Yes
Security DTEK security suite
FIPS 140-2 Full Disk Encryption
Android For Work, Google Play for Work
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11ac, 5GHz, Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC
GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, OTDOA
FM Radio, 4G Mobile Hotspot, Wi-Fi Direct, USB OTG
BBF100-1 – EU, Africa, AU, Japan LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/19/20/26/28/32
TD-LTE Band 38/39/40/41
BBF100-2 – Canada, US, LATAM LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/14/17/20/28/29/30/66
TD-LTE Band 38/39/40/41
BBF100-4 – China LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/20/26/28
TD-LTE Band 34/38/39/40/41
CDMA Band BC0
BBF100-6 (Dual SIM version) – ME, APAC, India, Indo LTE Band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/19/20/26/28/32
TD-LTE Band 38/39/40/41
Dimensions 151.4mm x 71.8mm x 8.5mm
Weight 168g

Now Running Android Oreo 8.1

BlackBerry KEY2 Software

BlackBerry KEY2 Software

Out of the box, the BlackBerry KEY2 is running Android Oreo 8.1 and like all BlackBerry Android-powered smartphones thus far, maintains a pretty stock experience overall. What does that mean for the KEY2 exactly? Well, aside from the visual changes, you can take advantage of all the other improvements that come with Oreo such as:

  • Background limits: Android Oreo helps minimize background activity in the apps you use least, it's the superpower you can't even see.
  • Autofill: With your permission, Autofill remembers your logins to get you into your favorite apps at supersonic speed.
  • Picture-in-Picture: Allows you to see two apps at once, it's like having super strength and laser vision.
  • Notification Dots: Press the notification dots to quickly see what's new, and easily clear them by swiping away.
  • Android Instant Apps: Teleport directly into new apps right from your browser, no installation needed.
  • Google Play Protect: Working to keep your device and data safe from misbehaving apps by scanning over 50 billion apps per day, even the ones you haven't installed yet!
  • Emoji: Share the feels with a fully redesigned emoji set, including over 60 new emoji.
  • Notification categories: More granular and consistent control over which notifications can appear and how intrusive they are.
  • Notification snoozing: Lets users hide notifications for a period of time, similar to Inbox snoozing.

Naturally, you do get all the BlackBerry preloaded apps such as the BlackBerry Hub, Password Keeper, the newly redesigned DTEK by BlackBerry along with BlackBerry Privacy Shade including the new Redactor mode. I'm not going to break out each BlackBerry included app and go in depth but here's the rundown of each.

BlackBerry Hub - This unified inbox is an irreplaceable tool for consolidating all of your messages in one place – whether it's email, calendar, social or phone calls. The Hub seamlessly integrates notifications from apps like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Instagram, and many others to allow you to manage important notifications and view your communication history.

BlackBerry Keyboard - This might seem silly to list give the KEY2 has a hardware keyboard but there is also still a software component to that keyboard. The BlackBerry Keyboard app helps with controlling the settings, languages, on-screen keyboard and more on the KEY2, so it's a necessary app.

BlackBerry Privacy Shade and Redactor - Privacy Shade prevents people around you from seeing your screen by blocking out everything except for a small view area that you control, while still letting you interact with the full screen. With Redactor, you can hide private information from your screen before you share screenshots.

DTEK by BlackBerry - DTEK is built for security monitoring. The app suggests best practices to maximize security and gives you oversight into what your apps are doing with the various permissions you allow. Did an app access your microphone without you knowing? DTEK will know and alert you when enabled. The recent update also brought a brand new UI and new features!

BlackBerry Notable - Allows you to capture screenshots and instantly mark up the content using text, stickers, and more and share it with your contacts. Great for highlighting portions of an image, creating simple photo collages and more!

BlackBerry Password Keeper - The BlackBerry Password Keeper application allows you to keep all of your passwords, login information, and important records safe and secure. Your information is encrypted using AES-256 and protected by a single password of your choice.

BlackBerry Contacts - BlackBerry Contacts stores all your contact info in one location for convenient management. You can interact with your contacts using a variety of methods such as phone calls, text and email messages, or calendar events directly from the Contacts app. You can also create and manage contact groups.

BlackBerry Productivity Tab - If you're not familiar with the BlackBerry Productivity app, it taps into Hub, Calendar, Tasks, and Contacts and provides you with an 'at a glance' look at what's happening on your device without needing to open each app individually. If you see an item that needs action, you can launch it right from the Productivity Tab. New enhancements now also allow widgets to be added to the BlackBerry Productivity Tab.

BlackBerry Power Center - BlackBerry Power Center is a great app that is probably overlooked by many. With Power Centre, you can view how much battery each app is using and control and optimize any apps that appear to be power hungry. The control can be broken down by brightness, resolution, and framerate, and more. Additionally, like DTEK, it also offers best practices advice for saving battery, and on KEY2 it works with the Smart Battery Experience.

Tasks by BlackBerry and Notes - Have a deadline you need to be reminded of? BlackBerry Tasks is the app for that allowing you to set due dates and reminders without needing to download a separate app. It's right there for you. With BlackBerry Notes, you can keep track of your to-do list, ideas, and more. Notes have an automatic setup feature for popular email services including Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange.

BlackBerry KEY2

Also on board and improved upon from KEYone and Motion is Private Locker. This time around, in addition to the ability to hide files and photos in a secure space, Locker includes Mozilla's Firefox Browser, which blocks web trackers, erases your browser history automatically and more for increased browsing security.

Also added to Locker is the capability to hide individual apps that you wish to keep safe behind a password or fingerprint. Plus, you can still capture images using the fingerprint sensor as well, and they'll be placed right in your Locker instead of your camera roll. All of these enhancements are undoubtedly welcome additions on the KEY2 and stick to the whole point of BlackBerry offering you a safer, more private, more secure experience.

BlackBerry KEY2

For fans of the BlackBerry Smart Convenience Key, you'll be pleased to know that feature has been retained on the KEY2 as well. If you've never experienced the BlackBerry Smart Convenience Key, it allows you to create profiles for your Convenience Key such as Car, Meeting, and Home.

For fans of the BlackBerry Smart Convenience Key, you'll be pleased to know that feature has been retained on the KEY2.

In each of those profiles, you can add up to three shortcuts allowing you to quickly and easily access the apps you need. You can customize which apps show up under which profiles, and while it might take you a bit to figure out which apps work best for you in each scenario, it's yet another way BlackBerry smartphones aim to help you cut down on wasted time and be more productive in your day.

When it comes down to it, there is a lot of little software touches that BlackBerry Mobile put into the KEY2 over and above those found on stock Android Oreo 8.1. The built-in Files app should cover your basic file management needs, and if you require more, there's plenty available on the Google Play Store. BlackBerry Mobile also saw fit to load the Google Wallpapers app, enabling the option to shuffle your wallpaper automatically. There's also the three-finger swipe gesture, which will quickly activate the Privacy Shade app from anywhere on your device. Features like the built-in FM radio will keep those looking for it happy as well. It's a small, but appreciated inclusion.

All New Speed Key

BlackBerry KEY2 Keyboard

I'm following up the software section with the keyboard section because, well, the software and keyboard have to work hand-in-hand here. With the release of the BlackBerry KEY2, we see some serious evolution of the BlackBerry keyboard. To move forward, BlackBerry Mobile went back and looked at what made the Bold 9900 keyboard so great and pulled inspiration from there to introduced revamped, more intelligent keyboard on the BlackBerry KEY2.

With the release of the BlackBerry KEY2, we see some serious evolution of the BlackBerry keyboard.

On the KEY2, the key height has been increased by 20 percent which according to BlackBerry Mobile brings a more comfortable and accurate experience and well, they're not wrong in saying that. The KEY2 keyboard, in my opinion, is among one of the best BlackBerry keyboards ever built on a BlackBerry smartphone. The glossy keys from the KEYone are gone and replaced with a matte finish and improved fret design. Additionally, the KEY2 keys are now scratch resistant.

While I can feel where the Bold 9900 inspiration comes from in the design and clickiness of the keys on the KEY2, as I noted earlier, I find more relation to the BlackBerry Passport keyboard aside from the obvious difference of the KEY2 being a four-row keyboard. The keys are nice and smooth and sculpted just right in all the right places allowing you to slide and glide your fingers across with ease. If you enjoyed the 'feel' of the BlackBerry Passport keyboard, you'll be happy here on the KEY2. To me, that's a huge win and a huge kudos to the keyboard team for the KEY2.

One of the best BlackBerry keyboards ever built on a BlackBerry smartphone.

The other huge addition here is obviously the all-new Speed Key, which is the first new key added to a BlackBerry keyboard in over a decade. When it was teased, many folks were wondering what it did and how it would change the way the keyboard works and I can say, it certainly does change things but in a good way. Sure, it takes some time getting used to, but once you mix it into your brain to use the Speed Key it's awesome! Building on the already existing 52 long and short press keyboard shortcuts, the Speed Key allows you to flip through any app on your KEY2 at any time from anywhere on your device. Just tap the Speed Key and a letter, and you're instantly jumping right into whatever app you assigned. If you're in Twitter, you can move to Chrome, or WhatsApp or Instagram and back to Twitter again faster than using the built-in app switcher. It's almost reminiscent of how BlackBerry 10 handled app switching.

Now, for those of you out there who are thinking 'Yeah, that's great but I lost a CTRL key' well, you did but only kind of. To help maintain the CTRL key function, BlackBerry Mobile smartly made the currency key customizable on the KEY2. Now, instead of it just being locked to the currency key you have the options of setting it to Currency, Cntrl, Shift, Switch keyboard language, or finally, make it bring down your Notifications from anywhere in the OS, so you're not losing out.

Aside from the Speed Key and design improvements on the KEY2, you still retain the Flick Typing feature on the BlackBerry KEY2 keyboard that allows you to flick text suggestions into the text area and under the hood, improvements have been made to the Touch Enabled portion of the keyboard. Now, scrolling is more fluid in web pages and within apps as the touch sensors within the keyboard have been improved and optimized. When it comes to the Fingerprint Sensor, improvements have been made there as well. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's much faster, it seems around the same to me, but the way it's placed on the KEY2 is more flush with the rest of the keyboard, preventing you from banging it up. Additionally, BlackBerry Mobile has removed the pulsing lights from the Fingerprint Sensor. I kinda like them, but I'm not sad they're gone. How you feel about them will determine if you think it's an overall improvement, I suppose.

Charge Less. Do More

BlackBerry KEY2 Battery

BlackBerry KEY2 Battery Life

The BlackBerry KEYone proved to have outstanding battery life, so it's not unreasonable to expect the BlackBerry KEY2 to be on par even with all the changes put into it. To keep things in check, BlackBerry Mobile with the energy-efficient Snapdragon 660 processor and a 3500 mAh battery as well as Quick Charge 3.0 on the BlackBerry KEY2 to achieve an up to 2-day battery life rating.

In addition to purposeful processor and battery choices, the KEY2 also features a new Smart Battery Experience that learns your usage and charging habits and suggests when to charge your device so that you're never left empty when you need your device the most.

So, that's all cool but how well did it all translate to the final product? Well, as it turns out not bad at all. In my testing, running on T-Mobile in Arizona, I have consistently been getting around 6 hours plus screen on time and have had no issues meeting that 2-day battery life on multiple occasions.

Battery life expectations are met on the KEY2.

There were two days it didn't take me into that 2-day mark, and one them was the day I set the device up. The other was a day where I did A LOT of testing of the camera, phone calls, Google Maps and Internet usage and even still, it was enough to make it through my day with 9% left before I hit the charger at the end of the night. I could have topped up at some point, by making use of that Quick Charge and Boost Mode, but I wanted to see how far I could go without doing that.

Overall, I think the expectation of battery life has been met on the KEY2. Naturally, everyone's device usage is different, and your network has a lot to do with battery life, but I think I can confidently say that there won't be many complaints about the battery life on the KEY2. If anything, the battery life will be a highlight for many as it should be for any modern smartphone.

The First Dual-Rear Camera On A BlackBerry

BlackBerry KEY2 Camera

BlackBerry KEY2 Camera Back

With the BlackBerry KEY2, BlackBerry Mobile has introduced the first dual-rear camera on a BlackBerry smartphone. The combination of the 12MP shooters on paper should bring improvements such as better auto white balance, faster autofocus, and image stabilization. On top of those improvements, the dual-cameras should allow you to capture portrait shots like never before while the optical zoom uses multi-frame capture to help reduce noise and bring in better detail on zoomed in shots. That all sounds great on paper but how well do the cameras work in the real world?

The KEY2 is entirely capable of snapping some great shots.

All in all, I think the KEY2 camera provides exactly what I've come to expect on a BlackBerry. There once was a time BlackBerry cameras were downright trash, but that changed and now they've moved into a totally acceptable territory. For my use cases of capturing some shots for Instagram or otherwise sharing photos with my friends and family, the KEY2 meets my needs. It's not trying to take on other flagships when it comes to the camera, it's just trying to provide a great overall experience, and it does that well.

Now, I hear some people groaning and taking what I said to mean that you can't snag some great pics with the KEY2, which is simply not true. The KEY2 is entirely capable of snapping some great shots. You can take a look through some of the sample pics I took and see for yourself.

There are some issues when it comes to low-light shots, which in my experience can be rather hit or miss, but that's on par with other BlackBerry smartphones that have been produced. The KEYone low-light was hit or miss as was the BlackBerry Motion, so while it would have been nice to say that low-light has really improved, it hasn't. It's just around the same. Take multiple shots in low-light, one will likely hit.

You may have noticed in the sample shots there were no portrait photos. With the dual-rear cameras being a highlight and portrait shots with nice bokeh being one of their uses cases, I figured they deserved their own sample section.

Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with the portrait mode shots the KEY2 is able to produce. BlackBerry Mobile doesn't do any machine learning or anything with the portrait shots so in some cases, the bokeh isn't exactly lined up properly and cause some edge blur wonkiness but I've seen yet to see a smartphone produce perfect portrait shots every time. The fact it can take great portrait photos, in my opinion, means the improvements made here are beneficial given that was the one of the highlighted reasons for adding dual-rear cameras.

Embracing The Heritage Of BlackBerry

BlackBerry KEY2 Experience

When any second-generation smartphone gets released, it's always interesting to see what gets improved and added from the first-generation. With the BlackBerry KEY2, I was curious to see what BlackBerry Mobile would do to keep the KEY line moving along. Would they stray in a totally different direction and offer up something entirely new or would they just listen to feedback and make overall improvements?

In the case of the KEY2, I'm pleased they decided to listen to customers and made overall improvements to offer up a better experience. It's not a MASSIVE jump from KEYone to KEY2, but everything on the KEY2 was thoughtfully added (or removed) with customers in mind, even if you can't see some of the changes and there are many.

In the case of the KEY2, I'm pleased they decided to listen to customers and made overall improvements to offer up a better experience.

The processor has been upgraded to the Snapdragon 660, RAM has been bumped up to 6GB for better performance and storage options of 64GB and 128GB provide customers with choice. Keeping in the vein of choice, from the jump you can choose between silver or black variants. The new Speed Key and improved keyboard help the KEY2 offer more ways for you to get things done faster, saving you time. The new dual-camera introduces a new way to snap photos.

Some folks might have wanted to see more out of the BlackBerry KEY2, but I think BlackBerry Mobile did things right here and produced a pretty compelling smartphone all around. It's not going to cater to everyone, that's just the nature of QWERTY devices but as I mentioned previously, if you're looking for an upgrade or just want to give a keyboard smartphone a go for the first time or again, the BlackBerry KEY2 is an excellent offering all around when you look at the total package.

Should You Buy It?

BlackBerry KEY2 Bottom line

Alright, that's enough from me. If you made it this far, you're awesome! To close this one out, I would normally drop my final thoughts, but for this one, we're going to include two conclusions. One from myself and from CrackBerry Kevin, who has also been using the BlackBerry KEY2.

Bla1ze

Personally, I see the KEY2 as a great addition to the BlackBerry Mobile lineup, and I like the fact that they didn't drastically deviate from what made the KEYone great. Instead, they listened to customer feedback, they updated it, improved upon it where it needed to be improved upon and wrapped it all up a new, yet familiar design without sacrificing productivity and efficiency.

We all know QWERTY devices are not for everyone, but we also know there are plenty of people out there who do love them and plenty of people out there who would actually love to return to a QWERTY keyboard if it can meet all their other checkboxes. The BlackBerry KEY2 is a great device that can help bring a few more of those keyboard fans back into the fold, and if you're already a BlackBerry user, it's a fantastic upgrade to whatever device you're currently using right now.

My only concern with getting folks onboard with the KEY2 comes from the pricing. $649 USD / €649 EUR / £579 GBP / $829 CAD for the unlocked variants is a bit up there for price-conscious folks. That's not to say I believe it's not worth the cost of entry, I just know that for some folks, it's a bit offputting.

CrackBerry Kevin

The KEYone was a good enough phone to get me using and liking BlackBerry again, but the KEY2 has me loving BlackBerry again. I honestly think the keyboard on the BlackBerry KEY2 is better than that of the BlackBerry Bold 9900's. No jokes. So if you're a physical keyboard fan, that's enough of a statement for you not to walk, but run out and buy a KEY2 the moment you can.

Beyond the vastly improved keyboard, compared to the KEYone the BlackBerry KEY2 is a prime example of how a lot of seemingly minor improvements can turn into an experience that's drastically improved. The bumped up specs have the phone running fast, I love the design -- I find myself staring at the phone -- (and in case you're wondering Silver or Black, my answer is Silver!) and I've been super happy with the camera.... so much portrait mode.

It's clear that the general form factor of the KEYone and KEY2 is a winning design, so I won't be surprised if next year we're talking about how the KEY2 was great and the KEY3 is that much better. And there's definitely room for BlackBerry Mobile to continue to improve the KEY series - an OLED screen, IP67 dust and water resistance, dual speakers and wireless charging are all on my wishlist (let's keep the headphone jack and not add a notch). Do all that along with the gesture-heavy Android P onboard, and I think you'll find even the most diehard of diehard BlackBerry 10 fans finally deciding it's time to upgrade.

In the meantime, the KEY2 is here, it rocks, and I can't wait for you to get your thumbs on one and put it to work. I think you're going to love it.

Pre-Order at Amazon

Where to buy the BlackBerry KEY2

BlackBerry KEY2 hands-on photo gallery!

BlackBerry KEY2 Unboxing and Hands-On Video Roundup!