BlackBerry has been "back" for a while now.
Considering it's nearly half the price of its flagship counterpart, the BlackBerry Key2 LE doesn't look drastically different.
The main difference - and given the fact that the KEY2 LE is primarily meant to appeal to business customers as a cheaper KEY2 to give to their employees, this is a bit unusual - is that the KEY2 LE comes in a wider range of colours and they're quite flashy too. The advantage of making a little bit of specification is that BlackBerry has succeeded in reducing the cost of its new phone compared to KEY2.
The BlackBerry KEY2 LE will be available for purchase in markets globally - including Germany, the UK, France, UAE, Canada and the U.S. - beginning next month with the suggested retail price starting at £349 GBP / $399 United States dollars / €399 Euro / $519 CAD for the 32GB storage variant and £399 GBP / $449 USD / €429 Euro / $579CAD for the 64GB storage variant.
The fatter 64GB variant is priced as follows: $449, €429, £399, and CAD 579.
That's a noteworthy discount from the Key2, which starts at $649.
It promises numerous same features as its predecessor released just three months ago, the Key2, but at a much cheaper price point of $399. The first thing we noticed was the lighter build and more rounded edges.
BlackBerry may call the Key2 LE entry-level, but it's closer to what we'd consider midrange in the unlocked market. It measures 150.25 x 71.80 x 8.35 (height x width x thickness) and weighs 156.00 grams.
This newest addition to the BlackBerry KEY series is available in three colour variants - Slate, Champagne and Atomic which is a big step up from the traditional black.
Interestingly, BlackBerry didn't feel the need to try something dramatically different with the LE. The fingerprint sensor is embedded on the physical qwerty keypad's Space Bar. The phone comes with a USB Type-C port, as well as a 3.5 mm headphone jack. In a briefing, BlackBerry said it did this to appeal to traditional BlackBerry users who might be coming from older devices like the Classic who won't want the capacitive keys.
For starters, the KEY 2 LE is made out of a cheaper polycarbonate body and the keyboard lacks touch gestures.
Overall this is a neat reimagining of the Key2 at a better price point, with differences enough to justify its launch.
At a lower price, you're probably wondering what corners TCL cut to shave down the price. The phone comes with a 4.00-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1080 pixels by 1620 pixels at a PPI of 434 pixels per inch. Check out the phone by clicking on the official video at the top of this article. It's simply the wrong shape.
- Processor: The device runs Qualcomm Snapdragon 636.
The CPU is paired with 4GB of RAM and you can get 32GB or 64GB of storage.
- Connectivity: Dual SIM, NFC, GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11n dual-band, and Bluetooth 5.0 LE.
While there are dual cameras, they are a downgrade from the Key2.
There's a 13MP and 5MP rear sensor, which took okay shots in terms of clarity and color reproduction when tested in the brightly lit room during our hands on. It is an affordable version of the KEY2 launched earlier this year and comes with a similar design. Both devices get the same 8MP front-facing camera.
But this is not the handset to go for if smartphone photography is your primary concern, and TCL knows that.
In BlackBerry KEY2 LE integrated battery 3000 mAh, 4 GB of RAM, the drive 32 or 64 GB and Android OS 8.1 Oreo without additional shells. This is usual to see when the specs aren't as demanding, but we will watch closely in our full review to see if it's a deal breaker. BlackBerry is also committed to monthly Android security updates and so far has a solid track record with the KEY2.
There is also a Locker feature that allow you to manage what information is shared in the cloud, like your photos and documents.
The keys are "20% larger" than the KeyOne and the keyboard can also be used to scroll up and down a webpage.
If you're interested in picking up your own Key2 LE you'll be able to do so starting in September. Unlike Samsung with Bixby, functions aren't hard-coded so you can remap it to the app of your choice.