BlackBerry KEY2
The BlackBerry KEY2 is powered by the Snapdragon 660 processor with 6GB of RAM and up to 128GB of internal storage. BlackBerry

TCL Communications has officially announced the BlackBerry KEY2, the successor to last year’s KEYone. The brand new handset features the same physical QWERTY keyboard, but with a slightly improved design.

“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,” TCL senior VP and BlackBerry Mobile president Alain Lejeune said. “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.”

The BlackBerry KEY2 comes with a 4.5-inch 1,620 x 1,080 LCD display. Inside, the device is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor with 6GB of RAM, 64GB/128GB of onboard storage and a 3,500mAh battery. The KEYone suffered with some major performance issues that were attributed to its relatively small RAM, as pointed out by 9To5Google. With 6GB of RAM inside the KEY2, users won’t have to worry about the same problems.

On the back, the KEY2 comes with dual 12-megapixel cameras. BlackBerry says that the new camera setup will offer improvements in auto white balance, faster auto focus, better image stabilization and new features. The cameras on the handset have two new modes: Portrait Mode and Optical Superzoom. With Portrait Mode, users will be able to capture images that have bokeh backgrounds. Meanwhile, Optical Superzoom allows 2x optical zoom with multi-frame capture to reduce picture noise.

The cameras are also capable of recording videos in 4K resolution at 30fps. Google Lens is also integrated into the cameras, allowing users to quickly search and get information on things that they have photographed. Up front, the KEY2 comes with an 8MP camera that’s capable of 1080p 30fps video recording.

The most important feature on the BlackBerry KEY2 has to be its physical QWERTY keyboard. Although it looks almost exactly like the keyboard from the KEYone at first glance, the keyboard on the KEY2 actually has some minor changes. The height of the keys has been increased by 20 percent making them easier to press and the entire keyboard now comes with a matte finish making it less slippery, according to Android Police.

The keyboard on the BlackBerry KEY2 also has a new button called the Speed Key. This new button functions as a shortcut key for a number of functions on the handset. The Speed Key will support a total of 52 customizable shortcuts, like accessing apps or calling contacts.

As for the rest of the BlackBerry KEY2 specs, the handset still has the 3.5mm headphone jack, supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and runs Android 8.1 Oreo straight out of the box. As per usual, the phone will come with BlackBerry’s suite of apps, including BBM. BlackBerry says that the device will receive frequent security updates.

“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,” BlackBerry Mobility Solution SVP and GM Alex Thurber said.

The BlackBerry KEY2 will be available sometime this month, but there’s no specific date yet. The phone will be released worldwide and will arrive with a starting price of $649, which is $100 more than the KEYone’s launch price.