When Blackberry relaunched into market as a brand of Alcatel parent company TCL back in 2017 they launched strongly with the KeyOne combination touch-screen and keyboard based Android smartphone. Earlier this year they followed up with a slimmer and refined Key2 and today they’ve announced a more consumer focussed Key2 LE.
The Key2LE looks and feels very much like the Key2, in fact, in many ways it looks better – with coloured edges, a “softer” back, but retaining the familiar dual camera on the back and keyboard layout on the front.
There are three colours, Slate, Champagne and Atomic (Red) and each of them look sensational. The Red has appeal all round with the Red accenting through the keyboard, while the Slate is a very uniform look – perhaps a touch more subtle than its siblings, and the Champaign is gold like colour around the edge of a dark blue backed phone.
They look – bloody good.
Under the hood, they are scaled back – like buying the Ecoboost 4-cylinder Ford Mustang instead of the V8 – they look the same on the outside, but one is a touch down on power, but still drives great.
For the overwhelming majority – the slightly lower spec processor, the 4GB RAM and the 3,000mAh battery will do all you need – no question.
The real benefit comes from the price. Compare a Key2 at $899 to the Key2 LE at around $699 and I would wonder why most people would choose the big brother.
Better colour options, a better price – it’s a real winner.
Plus, it’s getting some additional smarts before the rest of the Blackberry family. For example, it will look at your calendar, and hint to you that it might be worth charging the battery before that big block of meetings.
And the convenience key on the side, a new Google Suite can be linked to it, to enable a long press for Google Lens, and a press and hold to use Google Assistant in a walkie talkie style.
There’s also additional privacy features with an “Locker” which can only be accessed by fingerprint. Any apps you add here will need a fingerprint to launch, and you can even allow private photos to only be stored in the locker, so they are not synced to your Google Cloud account. There’s even a Firefox private browser there – let’s not beat around the bush this sounds great for those looking at inappropriate sites you might not want the missus to see, and perhaps those sending pics of – well, themselves – around the place.
But there are some great privacy and security applications for the locker.
Plus, there’s Dual app capability – you can clone a compatible app and run two version of it. Got a private and public Instagram account? Run them of two apps instead of having to switch accounts within the app.
Need two versions of What’s App? Install a second SIM and you’re running.
Launching with just Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WeChat and What’s App there are at least ten more apps coming with these features.
All in all, the Key2 LE is a bloody impressive follow up to the Key2 itself and moreover the KeyOne.
No firm price or availability for the product in Australia – and no guarantee when we do get it that we’ll get all – or even more than one colour. Stay tuned.
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.