KEY2: The iconic BlackBerry gets a new keyboard and dual cameras

KEY2: The iconic BlackBerry gets a new keyboard and dual cameras

For the first time on a BlackBerry, the KEY2 comes with dual-cameras at the rear.

You've got access to 35 backlit keys on the physical keyboard, and similar to the KEYone, the spacebar doubles as an integrated fingerprint sensor.

For changes over last year's KeyOne, BlackBerry highlights an improved physical keyboard with Speed Key, which allows you to utilize shortcuts and gestures to open apps regardless of what screen you're on.

Now, BlackBerry is readying a successor, appropriately named the Key2, which will be available later this summer for $649. The company says that key height has been raised 20 percent, in order to offer a more comfortable typing experience, and aid in accuracy.

Last year's Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor and measly 3GB RAM have been replaced with a Snapdragon 660 and impressive 6GB RAM.

We do, however, know how much it'll cost. The Key2 will retail in silver and black, and while the fresh, simplified shape does the device a lot of favors, I expect the sleek and stealthy darker colorway to be a hit with the BlackBerry faithful. The lens is assisted by dual-tone LED flash and features HDR, Scan, Private Capture, Dual Phase detection and Auto Focus.

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Under the agreement between the two firms, Canada's BlackBerry will remain in control of software and security on smartphones, while TCL will produce handsets powered by Google Android software, abandoning the former BlackBerry OS software. That includes apps like DTEK, which constantly monitor security and encourage users to be proactive about denying permissions to rogue apps, as well as Locker to restrict files and apps behind authentication.

The rear material on the phone also appears to have a grippy finish which should held BlackBerry fans with butter fingers.

You don't buy BlackBerry phones for their excellent cameras, but this is another area where the KEY2 should offer some serious improvements.

This is the latest BlackBerry smartphone released by TCL under a brand licensing agreement with the Canadian company that was signed in December 2016. It's used for shortcuts and you can program up to 52 combinations including long pressing an alphabet together with the speed key. That's a bit steep, considering the KeyOne launched for $100 less. It isn't just slapping the BlackBerry name on a random low-quality Android phone, however.

With the KEY2, that theme is present once again. Stay tuned for a full review in the coming weeks.

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