UPDATE: Read the full.
In my mind's eye, I'm a savvy career phone reviewer who can fluidly pick up and use any phone without breaking stride. In reality, the BlackBerry Key2 is kicking my ass.
It's the only new choice in 2018 for a fan of physical keyboards (you could also buy last year's BlackBerry KeyOne), but the Key2's QWERTY buttons aren't as easy to get used to when switching from a virtual keyboard as I had remembered. When muscle memory kicks in, I'm swiping things that can't be swiped, and mixing up which buttons I press to get numbers, capital letters and to launch one of 52 keyboard shortcuts the Key2 will allow.
There's a lot going on with the BlackBerry Key2, which updates the KeyOne in almost every major spec and a lot of the design attributes, too: You've got iconic keyboard buttons, two 12-megapixel cameras on the back, a Snapdragon 660 processor, the works.
But I'm still early on in my review process, and in many ways I'm still shaking off the cobwebs that have accumulated since last year's phone. There's still time for my thumbs to regain their button-mashing swiftness. And I still have many more shortcuts and buttons to customize and commit to memory.
I'll have a full rated review for you shortly, but until then, here are my initial thoughts on using the BlackBerry Key2.
BlackBerry Key2 pros and cons
- The BlackBerry Key2 will present a steep learning curve for people who currently use all-touch phones
- The design looks a lot better than the KeyOne across the board
- The Key2's 4.5-inch screen feels small after time spent with large-screen devices
- Keyboard buttons feel larger and more tactile than on the KeyOne
- Portrait mode shots look usable so far, but lack a slider control that some phones have
- You can't take portrait selfies, which is a shame
- I like being able to drag my thumb across the keyboard to scroll horizontally, but vertical scrolling stops and starts
- There's no way I'm remembering 52 keyboard shortcuts (but you might)
- Seeing both physical and virtual keyboards at once is jarring, and takes up precious screen space
- Benchmarking test results were much lower than the most premium phones, but this isn't a device for gamers so I'm not sure how much that matters
- I'd like to be able to double press the space bar to go Home
BlackBerry Key2 unboxing: Here's what you get
- BlackBerry Key2 phone in black or silver
- SIM card ejector tool
- Charging brick
- USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- In-ear wired headset with BlackBerry logo
BlackBerry Key2 specs comparison
Here's how the Key2's internals stack up against other phones.
BlackBerry Key2 specs vs. Xperia XZ2 Compact, OnePlus 6 and LG G7 ThinQ
||Blackberry Key2||Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact||OnePlus 6||LG G7 ThinQ|
|Display size, resolution||4.5-inch LCD; 1,680x1,080 pixels||5-inch; 1,080x2,160 pixels||6.28-inch OLED; 2,280x1,080 pixels||6.1-inch IPS LCD; 3,120 x 1,440 pixels|
|Dimensions (Inches)||5.96x2.82x0.33 inches||5.31x2.56x0.48 inches||6.13x2.97x0.31 inches||6x2.8x0.31 inches|
|Dimensions (Millimeters)||151.4x71.8x8.5 mm||135x65x12.1 mm||155.7x75.4x7.75 mm||153.2x71.9x7.9 mm|
|Weight (Ounces, Grams)||5.3 oz; 151g||5.93 oz; 168g||6.2 oz; 177g||5.7 oz; 162g|
|Mobile software||Android 8.1 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo||Android 8.1 Oreo||Android 8.0 Oreo|
|Camera||Dual 12-megapixel||19 megapixels||16-megapixel standard, 20-megapixel telephoto||Dual 16-megapixel (71 degree, f/1.6 and 107 degree, f/1.9)|
|Front-facing camera||8-megapixel||5-megapixel||16-megapixel||8-megapixel (f/1.9)|
|Processor||2.2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 845||2.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845||2.8GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 845|
|Storage||64GB, 128GB||64GB||64GB, 128GB, 256GB||64GB|
|Expandable storage||Up to 256GB external storage||up to 400GB||None||Up to 2TB|
|Battery||3,500 mAh||2,870 mAh||3,300 mAh||3,000 mAh|
|Fingerprint sensor||In the space bar key||Back of phone||Back||Back|
|Special features||Keypad with 52 possible shortcut keys, DTek security||Super slow-motion video (960fps), IP68 water resistant||Portrait mode, notifications toggle, dual SIM, Dash Charging||Water resistant (IP68), wireless charging, DTS:X 3D Surround, Quad DAC|
|Price off-contract (USD)||$649 (64GB)||$650||$529 (64GB), $579 (128GB), $629 (256GB)||AT&T: N/A, Sprint: $792, T-Mobile: $750, Verizon: $750, US Cellular: $750|
|Price (GBP)||£484 (64GB)||£529||£469 (64GB), £519 (128GB), £569 (256GB)||£560-£590 converted|
|Price (AUD)||AU$847 (64GB)||AU$830||AU$702 (64GB), AU$769 (128GB), AU$835 (256GB)||AU$980-AU$1,030, converted|