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From the outside in, the BlackBerry Key2 is the modern upgrade of last year's KeyOne.

Published:Caption:Photo:Josh Miller/CNET

Though a lot has changed from the BlackBerry KeyOne, the nod to BlackBerry's classic keyboard remains.

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There's that iconic BlackBerry logo.

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And here's a close-up of the textured backing. 

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The keys are now matte, instead of glossy as they were on the KeyOne.

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There's more room in the keyboard for the key height to increase by 20 percent.

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This is all meant to make the keys easier to press by feel.

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You can assign each key to a shortcut in settings; two, actually. A short press to open one app and a long press to open another.

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So you can assign one key to two shortcuts, depending on how long you press down.

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The keys can launch any app or task of your choice from anywhere you are on your phone...

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 ...you don't have to go to the home screen to quick-launch an app like with the BlackBerry KeyOne.

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The keyboard is touch sensitive, which means you can swipe up and down or side to side by dragging your finger lightly over the board. You can also just use the touchscreen for this. But hey, why not both?

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If you do the math, that's 52 shortcuts you can access from the keyboard alone.

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You have to click on the new shortcut key, called the Speed Key, at the bottom right of the keyboard before clicking on the letter with the assigned shortcut. 

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It's the one with the square of nine dots on it, to the right of the space bar.

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You can also program three more action or shortcut apps to launch when you press the convenience key. Here, you can tap to open the flashlight, the calendar and compose in Gmail.

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The BlackBerry Key2 has two 12-megapixel cameras on the back...

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...making it the first ever BlackBerry smartphone to feature a dual rear-camera.

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BlackBerry says that the camera setups improves auto white balance and image stabilization, with faster auto focus too.

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The BlackBerry Key2 also contains new capture modes: Portrait and Optical Superzoom, meant to catch details from further away.

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The camera's built-in Google Lens feature also lets you to search for information on the things you take photos of. For example, you could find book reviews by simply taking a picture of a book's cover.

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You might be thinking, where's the fingerprint reader? Right in the space bar.

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Just like the rest of the keyboard, the space bar has a dual function: It doubles as the fingerprint sensor.

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The lock button on the side has ridges, for easy recognition.

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The BlackBerry Key2 has a standard USB-C port...

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...in addition to a headphone jack.

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By swiping the productivity tab, the BlackBerry Key2 gives you quick access to some of the most important info on your phone.

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The tab is a small grey sliver at the side of your screen. If it ever gets in your way, you can always change the side it shows up on, its height and general placement.

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The productivity tab lets you customize your widgets, so they're a swipe away, no matter which screen you're on.

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BlackBerry's trademark focus on security appears in the DTEK app installed by default.

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You can easily see what mobile data your apps have access to, including important things like location, camera and the microphone.

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The BlackBerry Passport, left, looks insane next to the Key2.

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That logo stands out on the silver model.

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The Key2's 3,500mAh battery lasted 15 hours in our looping video test (in airplane mode).

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The KeyOne sells in 64GB and 128GB options, and has 6GB of RAM.

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Portrait mode shots don't have fancy extras like lighting options or a blur adjustment.

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The Key2 will sell for $649 and £579. The US price converts to roughly AU$847. Read our full BlackBerry Key2 Android phone improves literally everything for all the good and bad.

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