BlackBerry KEY2 unveiled, touts physical keyboard and touch display

TCL launches the BlackBerry Key2 for $649

After some leaks, BlackBerry today formally announced its latest smartphone, the KEY2.

Also of note about the keyboard is that it's got a new Speed Key that'll let you access your programmable shortcut keys without having to return to the home screen of your device.

To most people, BlackBerry might seem like a part of ancient history given its status as one of the pioneers within the smartphone business but don't get it wrong: the brand is still alive.

While BlackBerry no longer makes smartphones, it does license its name to a company called TCL which makes Android devices that carry the branding - and sometimes, a physical keyboard.

The handset also features a 4.5-inch, 1620 x 1080 IPS LCD screen with a 3.2 aspect ratio, with 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass providing protection against scratches and knocks. The BlackBerry KEY2 will start at $649, and you can register for pre-order updates here.

A new BlackBerry is always a cause for celebration since the smartphone-maker's reinvention with Android, and the BlackBerry KEY2 is no exception.

Just to refresh, the KEY2 available in the West (and even in China), will be made by TCL.

Beneath it there's a reworked keyboard, with larger keys that are also 20-percent higher than on the BlackBerry KEYone.

A security meter on the KEY2, DTEK, gives users a snapshot of what's going on with their apps - how they are accessing data and what they have permission to use, such as a camera or microphone. There's a dual tone LED flash and support for 4K video recording.

The KEY2 has dual 12MP rear cameras, better image stabilization and faster autofocus. Battery life is up to two days with a feature that follows your charging habits and learns to when to prompt you for a recharge to keep the phone running through a meeting or flight. The phone comes with up t 128GB of internal storage which is further expandable by up to 256GB via a micro-SD card slot. Firefox Focus, Mozilla's privacy browser, is present too. Though the mystery behind a new button right at the bottom right of the keyboard still remains, and we expect it to be solved at the launch event itself.

In the USA, the BlackBerry KEY2 will sell at a starting price of $649 which roughly translates to Rs 43,726.

Other than that, there's relatively little changed to Android 8.1 Oreo, though the BlackBerry Hub and BlackBerry Launcher are included.

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