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BlackBerry Key2 vs BlackBerry KeyOne: An in-house competition

08 June 2018 9

Finally, the wait is over for the BlackBerry fans as the TCL just wraps off the cover from the much-awaited smartphone BlackBerry Key2. Like its predecessor, it is one of its kind smartphones with physical QWERTY keyboard and a small display screen. The KeyOne was quite special because it brought back the BlackBerry's traditional QWERTY keyboard instead of touchscreen devices.

The Key2 is the TCL's first BlackBerry branded smartphone of this year. The hopes are quite high whether the device is capable enough to meet the demands of BlackBerry fans who are waiting eagerly for a modern smartphone with the company's traditional QWERTY keyboard. So far all reviews regarding the device are positive which clearly indicates the TCL did a great job by releasing a worthy successor. However like always we will put it on the latest device in comparison to know in detail how the latest device is better than the predecessor. From the look of the things BlackBerry brings everything great from the predecessor and refined it further to make the Key2 a worthy successor.

The good thing is new Key2 not only have significant changes in the hardware department but instead, it brings the upgrades in almost all departments. So without any further delay, let's find out how the latest BlackBerry Key2 stacks up against the predecessor KeyOne. Starting with the design as it is the first thing buyers consider before making any choice.

71.8 x 151.4 x 8.5 mm
4.5 inches - 1620x1080 px
72.4 x 149.1 x 9.4 mm
4.5 inches - 1620x1080 px
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Design

On first look, you can easily identify both the KeyOne and Key2 are siblings because they share a lot of aesthetics. Both the devices have a metal design with QWERTY keyboard. However, the latest Key2 have modern looks and also it is sturdier thanks to 7,000 series aluminum chassis. The KeyOne was quite a chunky device, its measurements are 149.1 x 72.4 x 9.4mm. The company resolved the chunkier issue by bringing round edges so that the device can be grabbed easily single handily.

To give the Key2 slimmer and less chunky look the company reduced the thickness up to 1mm and also the round edges are replaced with flat edges. Also, the device is 12g lighter than its predecessor. So the latest Key2 not only looks slimmer but also feels lighter in hand. The first visual change on the front is the keyboard which looks drastically better than its predecessor.

On the rear side, the Key2 has modern look thanks to dual cameras setup on the top left corner with LED flashlight. The sleep/wake button is now inline with the volume controllers and Convenience Key. All the buttons are now textured which gives great feel overall.

We have to admit the Key2 lacks the special character like its predecessor. One of the reasons for ditching the special character is to bring a more streamlined smartphone which not attracts BlackBerry fans but also regular customers as well. Both the devices are not water and dust resistant unlike most of the latest smartphones. So you can't take the risk to use the device in rainwater.

Keyboard

As mentioned above one of the main change BlackBerry has brought in design is related to Keyboard. The company not only changed its finish but also brought a better keyboard. Both the devices keyboards have 35 keys and all rows are separated by a slim metal lining.

BlackBerry KeyOne keyboard was not amongst the best and also its glossy finish wasn't near to the BlackBerry's traditional keyboards. However this year BlackBerry bought a new keyboard with Key2 which is improved in all aspects. According to the company the new keyboard is 20% larger than the predecessor hence, it will provide more space to easily click buttons. The glass finish is replaced with a matte finish which makes it easier to use.

The button click feel is also changed and the company tried to bring old classic feels like BlackBerry Bold and other older devices. There is a touch-sensitive surface on both the keyboards to swipe. Both the devices support shortcuts to the letters so that you can access on the go without any delay. The Key2 features a dedicated key to 'Speed Key' which allows the user to switch between different apps instantly. This certainly saves the time switching between apps during multi-tasking.

Display

The display is certainly one key area where BlackBerry didn't bring any significant changes. Both the devices are featuring a 4.5-inches IPS LCD display panel with Full HD screen resolution of 1080 x 1620 pixels. Unlike usual 16:9 or latest 2:1 display panels, both the devices have a display with 3:2 aspect ratio. The display panels are significantly from the traditional and latest bezel-less smartphones.

The resolution is quite sharp thanks due to the smaller display panel, the display pixels density is 433 pixels-per-inch. The display is perfectly sharp for daily usage but certainly not a dream display for watching videos and playing games. If you don't have any issue with the display panel of KeyOne, you certainly will find the Key2 display great as well.

Hardware

As both the devices fall into the mid-range category that's why you can't expect top of the line hardware like the latest premium smartphones. The KeyOne was powered up by the Qualcomm's Octa-core Snapdragon 625 chipset. At the launch event, the company only showcased the 3GB RAM variant with 32GB storage whereas later on a top-tier model was announced with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. The top-tier variant was announced as Black Edition.

This year once again the company opted the chipset from Qualcomm's 600 series. The Key2 is running on the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 660 SoC with 6GB RAM. The base variant has 64GB storage whereas the top-tier variant has 128GB storage. Both the devices support memory expansion using MicroSD card.

As a daily driver both the devices is quite slick but the latest device has an advantage over the latest chipset with 6GB RAM and double native storage. If you are expecting ultra speed like the Snapdragon 800 series, you may disappoint but consider both are mid-range smartphones the devices are quite amazing.

Specs Key2 KeyOne
Display 4.5-inches 4.5-inches
Screen resolution 1080 x 1620 pixels 1080 x 1620 pixels
Chipset Snapdragon 660 Snapdragon 625
RAM 6GB 3,4GB
Storage 64,128GB Expandable via MicroSD 32,64GB Expandable via MicroSD
Rear cameras Dual 12MP 12MP
Front camera 8MP 8MP
USB Type-C Type-C
OS Android Oreo 8.1 Android Nougat 7.1.1

Battery

Both the devices have 3,500mAH battery cell to keep the lights on. According to the company both the devices last more than one day on heavy usage and on normal to the heavy usage you will get battery juice for two days. The company claims no matter how much you use the device you don't have to put the device on charge every day which is certainly a relief for many users. Both the devices support Qualcomm's Quick charge 3.0 for fast charging.

Camera

The BlackBerry KeyOne sports a good camera, this was a refreshing change because BlackBerry smartphones are not known for their cameras. However, the camera wasn't amongst the best instead we can claim it above average. This year the company followed the latest trend of dual cameras on the rear side. The BlackBerry Key2 is the first smartphone from BlackBerry with dual cameras on the rear side.

The KeyOne has a 12MP sensor on the rear with f/2.0 aperture. On the other hand, the latest Key2 has dual rear cameras of 12MP. The primary sensor has f/1.8 aperture whereas the second sensor has a f/2.6 aperture. The dual cameras setup brings portrait mode support which allows the user to blur the background and focus solely on the subject. It is one of the main feature of dual cameras smartphones from last year or so. The KeyOne wasn't features riched smartphone but the Key2 brings panorama mode, slow-motion videos, and many other goodies. The secondary sensor provides optical zoom up to 2x. Both the devices support 4K video recording at 30fps

Up front, the selfie camera is 8MP on both the devices. The selfie camera support only 1080p videos. Having dual cameras is always better than the just single camera, So it won't be surprising to see Key2 takes lead in this section.

Software

The KeyOne was announced back in May 2017 with the Android Nougat 7.1.1 straight out of the box. Despite the fact, the device is more than a year old BlackBerry yet to roll out Android Oreo. The device isn't running on the stock version instead it comes with a number of bloatware apps to enhance the security and UI experience. The device is preloaded with DTEK Security app as well as Hub to showcase notifications of a number of social media apps. The Key2 is running on the latest Android Oreo 8.1 and the company confirmed it will receive Android P in coming months.

The Key2 brings all the software goodies of KeyOne and also a new brought an upgraded privacy locker with a number of new features and improved security. To optimize the battery life an intelligent battery feature is introduced which will alert users when the device requires charging.

Price

The KeyOne base variant with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage was announced for £499 as an unlocked device. Later on, the 4GB RAM variant was released at £549. Being the latest device with better hardware, more RAM, double storage, and dual rear cameras surely cost more. So it wasn't surprising at all when the company announced the 64GB variant will be £30 expensive than the predecessor, same is the case with the top-tier variant.


Conclusions:

The KeyOne is undoubtedly one of the most liked BlackBerry Android running smartphone because it brings a lot to attract customers. It was a first proper smartphone with QWERTY and touchscreen. It was pre-installed with Android OS instead of BB OS. The company tried to deliver in all aspects but didn't succeed. For instance, the bulkier design, average display, glossy keyboard are certainly few aspects which affect the success of KeyOne.

However this year the company seems like prepared well that's why they resolve all the ongoing issues related to KeyOne. The new Key2 is packed with an improved keyboard, better stylish design, more RAM, latest chipset, double native storage, latest OS and dual rear cameras will certainly make it more desirable than its predecessor. At the moment it is the only top-tier BlackBerry smartphone of this year.

Are you will grab the Key2 as your next daily driver or not? Feel free to share your thoughts regarding the Key2 vs KeyOne in the comments section below. Stay tuned for more comparisons and previews.

(last update 16 October 2018 @ 10:43)

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