Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Smart Phones

BlackBerry KEY2 review: How the keyboard became my Android power tool

Prior to using the KEY2 I had never had a BlackBerry. In my experience BlackBerry users were primarily enterprise focused, using it because of its focus on privacy and security—in other words, boring stuff (sorry, Dad). So when PCWorld got a review unit in I decided to use it like any other Android phone for a month to see if having a physical keyboard was a viable option in a world dominated by on-screen keyboards. And to tell you the truth, I’m having a hard time going back!

BlackBerry KEY2 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

This keyboard has me hooked.

Enterprise-minded BlackBerry features

If you are reading this review hoping to see how enterprise minded features hold up in this phone, then you are in the wrong place. For that kind of talk head over to our sister site Computerworld for a more traditional review of a BlackBerry experience.

Instead, I’ll give you my very quick take on the pre-installed features like BBM and the Hub: I turned it all off. I’ve long heard about people’s affinity for using BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) back in the day, but coming to a BlackBerry phone in 2018 with no other friends to connect with gave me no use for it.

BlackBerry KEY2 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

I’m not using the KEY2 because of the apps.

As for the Hub, BlackBerry’s app that consolidates messages from various services in one place, I found it just as useless. You see, in order to take full advantage of the Hub you need to use BlackBerry’s apps. While I didn’t have any particular problems with those apps after using each for a couple of days, I just didn’t have enough incentive to use them over my standard Android apps like Gmail that I’ve used for years.

So rather than belabor the point about how I’m not interested in the security and privacy features, I think it’s obvious that I’m not here for all the things that make a BlackBerry phone a BlackBerry phone other than the keyboard, so let’s just get to that.

BlackBerry KEY2 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

I am digging the build design though. Not a fan of all glass phones.

Using the KEY2 as just another Android Phone

The real question I had was this: Does the KEY2 hold up as just another Android phone? And on top of that, does the physical keyboard have its place in the new world of on-screen options? Unexpectedly, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding Yes!

Over the past couple of years I’ve switched my daily driver more than a dozen times as I test out the cameras on the newest smartphone releases. Because of this I’ve become pretty picky when it comes to what I want in a phone. As a result, I didn’t expect much from the KEY2. But it was refreshing to find out that using it day in and day out for almost a month didn’t have me pulling out my hair.

BlackBerry KEY2 Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The screen is smaller than I like, but it’s still big enough to game on!

Specs-wise, the mid-range Snapdragon 660 CPU and 6GB of RAM kept up with me—and believe me, I tend to push my phones harder than most other people I know. In a typical day’s train ride home from work I’m listening to podcasts through Bluetooth headphones, getting in a quick gaming session (The Battle of Polytopia is awesome!), pulling in photos from my Fujifilm XT10 to post to social media, and keeping up with all the tech news on Feedly. Apart from the limitations of the screen–more on that in a minute–the KEY2 did not struggle to adapt to my lifestyle.


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