BlackBerry Key2 Hands-On: The Keyboard Gets Even Better

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The Black Berry Key2's keyboard buttons are 20 percent larger than the KeyOne's. Sarah Tew CNET

BlackBerry Key2 will make its official debut in NY on June 7, which is today.

Additionally, the KEY2 features a first for any BlackBerry-branded device: a dual rear-camera setup.

The KEY2 is the third smartphone that TCL has launched through a partnership with BlackBerry, which decided in 2016 to stop making smartphones and license its software to other manufacturers.

Featuring an iconic BlackBerry physical keyboard and loaded with BlackBerry Limited's best security and privacy enhancements, this all-new BlackBerry smartphone packs a number of features that are firsts for any BlackBerry smartphone.

Elsewhere, the BlackBerry KEY2 comes with a 4.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD screen with an unusual aspect ratio of 3:2.

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Now, BlackBerry is readying a successor, appropriately named the Key2, which will be available later this summer for $649.

A recent New York Times investigation showed Facebook had data partnerships with 60 device makers, including Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry, that allowed those companies to get the data of Facebook users' friends without their consent.

Beneath it there's a reworked keyboard, with larger keys that are also 20-percent higher than on the BlackBerry KEYone. By marrying the Snapdragon 660 with a decently-sized 3,500 mAh battery, the Key2 promises some impressive battery endurance. For the most part, the BlackBerry KEY2 remains the same as KEYone, but BlackBerry has taken the feedback it received for the KEYone and implemented the same on the KEY2.

Just hold the Speed Key and any of your customizable 52 shortcut keys to access a frequently used app, call a favorite contact, or anything else you might want to do. It comes preloaded with DTEK by BlackBerry application that removes the complexity of security by providing an "at a glance" security meter. You can record video in 4K at 30 FPS, dual-tone flash helps to brighten dark scenes, and there's Phase Detection Autofocus. Even the keyboard gets a new finish on top (which already looks like an improvement). Firefox Focus, Mozilla's privacy browser, is present too.

According to TCL, the Blackberry KEY2 will be shipping globally starting this month. This should offer some pretty decent portrait performance, but I don't expect anything groundbreaking, considering that photography has never been a core concern of BlackBerry's userbase.

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