BlackBerry KEY2 Delivers the Phone of a New Generation

Computers, keyboards, mobile devices: I have an appreciation for intelligent ergonomic design, but these days, it seems like a single device won’t serve you completely. My favourite laptop is a MacBook Pro. At 13″, it is compact and powerful, though slightly heavy. The backlit keyboard serves a delightful punch with each stroke. The smaller 11″ MacBook is the ultimate in lightweight but loses on performance and its keyboard neutered flat and awkward to save space. No computer trackpad compares to Mac. In fact, all others just outright fail. Try and you’ll see.

I miss the flip phone. Life was simple then. My 2007 Samsung was an elegant wedge. I loved just holding it, flicking it open one handed with my thumb and raising it to my ear with intent, then slapping it shut to end the call. Remember that? The mechanics of it so satisfying, like the graceful flicks of a zippo.


I could text and drive like a champ with that flip phone. It was legal then. I memorized the three letter combinations mapped to each number and knew exactly the presses required to type sentences without having to look, so I could still concentrate on the road.

BlackBerry mastered the mobile QWERTY keyboard and reigned supreme in an age when text was the currency. Their phones were designed perfectly for your hands, and thumbs. The crunchy tactile clicks of their keys were so ergonomically satisfying and ‘addicting’ that they called it a ‘Crackberry.’ But iPhone changed the game as smartphones became multimedia machines that sacrificed keyboards for screen candy.

When I first tried an iPhone, it was no longer safe to text and drive (I know, I know. It never was). Too much going on. You can’t memorize the positioning of screen keys on glass, so you had to look. Don’t get me wrong. I love technology. I love the iPhone, and Androids too. I own several, but I have nostalgia for the early days of mobile tech.

Celebrity BlackBerry loyalist Kim Kardashian used her favourite BlackBerry Bold until she couldn't find any more for sale on eBay.
Famous BlackBerry loyalist Kim Kardashian used her favourite BlackBerry Bold up until she couldn’t find any more for sale on eBay.

I’m constantly in communication with people via text, email and a multitude of chat apps. This is the standard for communication now, but typing on glass is frustrating and inefficient. To compensate, I’ve kept an old BlackBerry on hand for years as a secondary phone just for typing, which is done with a shocking degree of speed, precision and efficiency.

My classic BlackBerry Q10 is great for hammering out instructions, emails, taking field notes and even fleshing out articles on the go, but truly it’s limited to text. The Q10, like most BlackBerry phones, feels great in your hands, and the layout of the keys is exactly right. They killed off native WhatsApp, and for a while there it felt like BlackBerry was pretty much dead.

Since 2015 though, BlackBerry has launched a slow and steady revival by replacing the BlackBerry OS with full Android, and outsourcing their hardware to TCL Communications, branded as BlackBerry Mobile. It’s taken several iterations to perfect their hybrid keyboard smartphone (the Priv slider was a little awkward and expensive, the KEY1 kinda chunky) but they have finally done it with the BlackBerry KEY2.

New generation BlackBerry KEY2 with my old BlackBerry Q10 in the distance.
New generation BlackBerry KEY2 with my old BlackBerry Q10 in the background.

I was so hyped for this phone. The hardware is much sleeker than the previous Android models with its sharp 4.5″ display made of ‘impact resistant Gorilla Glass, a Series 7 aluminum alloy frame and a textured diamond grip non-slip back.’ It looks cool. It looks awesome actually, and you’ll definitely get noticed with it in hand. A conversation starter. I’ve had one for a month, and I can tell you this thing delivers. It’s the perfect package.

The keyboard layout is improved and modelled after the classic BlackBerry Bold 9900, and it doubles as a precision trackpad, so essentially it’s a handheld laptop with the performance to back it up. A workhorse! In fact, I used it to compose this article. | BlackBerry KEY2: An icon reborn | Deliberately crafted for doing more on the go, the BlackBerry KEY2 offers a thinner and lighter design, without sacrificing durability.

BlackBerry KEY2: An Icon Reborn - silver and black
BlackBerry KEY2: An Icon Reborn – in silver and black

This all-new BlackBerry smartphone brings together iconic BlackBerry features with new experiences that include a dual-rear camera, more intelligent keyboard and improved privacy controls.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.

Running the latest Android™ 8.1 Oreo operating system, the BlackBerry KEY2 is the first ever BlackBerry smartphone to feature a dual-rear camera. It also includes the introduction of Speed Key, a universal shortcut key that now makes it possible to instantly access the apps, contacts and functions you use most from anywhere on your device at any time.

“Although there are many different smartphones for consumers to choose from today, most tend to offer very similar experiences without much distinction from one to the next,” said Alain Lejeune, Senior Vice President, TCL Communication & President, BlackBerry Mobile. “With the introduction of BlackBerry KEY2, we’ve created a distinct smartphone that captures all the traits that have made BlackBerry smartphones iconic, while introducing new innovations and experiences that not only make this one of the best devices for security and privacy, but also the most advanced BlackBerry smartphone ever.”

“BlackBerry phones are the world’s most secure Android smartphones. We design them for security from the inside out and we’re proud to partner with TCL Communication on the launch of their all-new BlackBerry KEY2,” said Alex Thurber, SVP and GM of Mobility Solutions at BlackBerry. “BlackBerry has been iterating and perfecting our approach to mobile security for decades, and we’re excited to have this new genuine, modern BlackBerry smartphone available for our fans around the world to enjoy.”

Me crunching my BlackBerry KEY2 keyboard while on vacation in New Brunswick.
Crunching keys on my BlackBerry KEY2 keyboard during my vacation in New Brunswick.

The most intelligent keyboard ever, and a battery that lasts up to 2 days, all on the new BlackBerry KEY2, powered by Android.


Beautifully crafted and deliberately designed for today’s modern smartphone user, the BlackBerry KEY2 represents a clear step forward in the KEY product series, bringing together premium materials and refined details in this all-new BlackBerry smartphone. Starting with an elegant Series 7 aluminum frame for added durability, this continuous frame design offers a cleaner look and feel while increasing strength.

The soft touch back has been updated as well with a new diamond pattern that adds to the premium design while also adding more grip and comfort. BlackBerry KEY2 has a redesigned intelligent keyboard as well as a 4.5-inch touch display that includes 2.5D Corning® Gorilla® Glass which offers increased scratch resistance and creates a more seamless design and edge to edge look.

The evolved keyboard has been thoughtfully crafted to make on the go typing more immediate and effortless, while also adding new functionality that sets a BlackBerry smartphone apart from the rest. Key height on the BlackBerry KEY2 has been increased by 20 percent for a more comfortable and accurate typing experience, and includes new matte key finish and fret design for optimized key spacing. It also includes in-keyboard fingerprint with updated mechanics for an improved tactile response and a more convenient user experience.

There is a new key added to the BlackBerry keyboard with the addition of Speed Key, enabling shortcut access to a number of functions on your device at any time. No longer do you have to return to the home screen of your smartphone or search in an app folder to access the apps, contacts and functions you use and communicate with most. Just press Speed Key along with any of your customizable 52 shortcuts to instantly access your frequently used apps, call a favorite contact, or access other immediate functions; saving valuable little moments throughout the day.

This all-new BlackBerry smartphone continues the KEY series keyboard legacy of supporting flick typing for faster messaging using predictive text that learns as you type as well as acting as a trackpad to quickly scroll through emails, web pages and more for a more intuitive mobile reading and browsing experience.


Delivering power and performance for getting more done, the BlackBerry KEY2 offers up to two days battery life, 6GB of memory and in both 64GB and 128GB storage variants – with both offering expandable storage MicroSD support, making this the most advanced BlackBerry smartphone ever. Powered by a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor, the BlackBerry KEY2 gives users all the power they need to get more done wherever the road takes them. In addition to Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 and the BlackBerry KEY2 adds a new Smart Battery Experience that will learn from your daily charging habits and recommend when to charge up so you have enough battery life to make it through that next meeting, flight or event.

The BlackBerry KEY2 also features a more impressive BlackBerry camera experience with the introduction of the first dual-rear camera on a BlackBerry smartphone. These dual 12MP cameras bring an improvement in auto white balance, faster auto focus, improved image stabilization and new photo capture experiences never before available on a BlackBerry smartphone. The BlackBerry KEY2 also introduces new capture modes, like Portrait Mode and Optical Superzoom. With Portrait Mode, users can now capture beautiful portrait photos creating more dramatic and professional looking images.

Crisp Surrey BC sunset photo taken with my BlackBerry KEY2.
I took this crisp photo of a Surrey summer sunset with my BlackBerry KEY2 before the smoke rolled in.

In addition, Optical Superzoom makes it possible to capture better photos with greater details; even from further away. And Superzoom uses multi-frame capture to reduce noise on zoomed photos with a seamless user experience that only presents the very best image. BlackBerry KEY2 also integrates Google Lens, so now you can more quickly and easily search and get more information on things like book reviews simply by capturing a picture of the book’s cover, get landmark details and much more.


Like all BlackBerry smartphones, the BlackBerry KEY2 includes enhanced security and privacy features right from the start. From a hardened operating system to BlackBerry’s proprietary technique for establishing a hardware root of trust adding security keys to the processor, the BlackBerry KEY2 is the most secure Android smartphone. It comes preloaded with DTEK™ by BlackBerry application that removes the complexity of security by providing an ‘at a glance’ security meter.

This shows the overall security rating of your device, and provides a simple way to view how apps may be accessing your data and manage app permissions. So now you can easily see and manage how your downloaded apps access your personal mobile data such as your location, access to your camera, microphone and more, with active controls over your mobile privacy and safety. The DTEK™ by BlackBerry app now includes the new Proactive Health check feature, which enables you to scan your device and receive instant feedback on potential vulnerabilities and security optimizations.

A unique device unlike any other.
BlackBerry KEY2 is sexy, stylish and unique. Photo taken in the kitchen of my parents’ 200+ year old farmhouse in New Brunswick.

Locker has also been improved to offer even greater personal privacy and control over your content. With features like private folders for documents and photos so they don’t get uploaded to the cloud and Firefox Focus, the privacy browser by Mozilla, for when you don’t want your web browsing session tracked, Locker is all about personal privacy control. This pre-loaded privacy application can only be accessed with your fingerprint or password, helping store and protect sensitive user data, apps and content such as photos and downloaded files.

The BlackBerry KEY2 is also part of the Google-led Android Enterprise Recommended program aimed at helping businesses select the best Android smartphone for their organization. With the Android Enterprise Recommended BlackBerry KEY2, business users can buy with confidence knowing they’re getting the most secure Android smartphone experience possible.

This means meeting elevated requirements established and validated by Google, including timely security updates (which BlackBerry Mobile provides monthly), business-ready hardware features and at least one major OS update. BlackBerry KEY2 also supports Android zero-touch enrolment, making it seamless for large organizations to deploy and manage their corporate-owned mobile devices.

My BlackBerry KEY2 among the young blackberries growing on my parents' farm in Murray Corrner, New Brunswick.
I was excited to take this shot of the BlackBerry KEY2 among blackberry bushes growing at my parents’ farm in Murray Corner, New Brunswick. They’re unripe so still red in colour.


The BlackBerry KEY2 pairs the best of Android™ 8.1 Oreo with an iconic smartphone experience you can find only in a BlackBerry smartphone. With access to millions of apps in the Google Play™ store and built-in experiences like Google Assistant and Google Lens, the BlackBerry KEY2 is the modern BlackBerry smartphone you’ve been waiting for. It also has the enhanced Convenience Key, making it easier to access your most-used apps with custom profiles for at home, in the car, in a meeting or on the go.

My only recommendation is that you turn off the redundant on-screen keyboard that comes on by default. You don’t need that thing. This is a BlackBerry. Use the tactile keyboard, and enjoy!

Learn more about BlackBerry KEY2 at

Daman Beatty
The creator of, Daman Beatty (AKA 'Beatler') is originally from Sackville, New Brunswick. A longtime media producer, visual designer, marketing and communications specialist, Daman loves travel, technology and being a Daddy.