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Is BlackBerry set for a comeback? Firm unveils $399 Key2 LE handset that brings back the keyboard

BlackBerry isn’t quite ready to give up on the keyboard. 

The company is hoping to attract consumers who aren’t satisfied with touchscreen keyboards with its latest smartphone, dubbed the Key2 LE.   

It promises many of the same features as its predecessor released just three months ago, the Key2, but at a much cheaper price point of $399. 

That’s a noteworthy discount from the Key2, which starts at $649.  

The Key2 LE promises many of the same features as its predecessor released just three months ago, the Key2, but at a much cheaper price point of $399. The Key2 starts at $649

BLACKBERRY’S KEY2 LE: THE SPECS 

TCL, which bought the rights to sell devices using the BlackBerry brand in 2016, unveiled the Key2 LE Thursday at the annual IFA tech conference in Berlin.

Here’s the device’s specs: 

  • 4.5-inch screen 
  • 13- and 5-megapixel rear cameras
  • 8-megapixel forward-facing camera
  • Snapdragon 636 processor
  • 3,000mAh battery 
  • 32gb or 64gb storage
  • 4gb RAM 
  • Comes in blue, red or gold
  • microSD card reader 

TCL, which bought the rights to sell devices using the BlackBerry brand in 2016, unveiled the Key2 LE Thursday at the annual IFA tech conference in Berlin. 

The Key2 LE brings back BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard-style smartphone, except with a bigger screen, a thinner design and new colors, including blue, gold and red. 

It’s also easier to use the keyboard this time around, as BlackBerry bumped up the size of keys by 10 percent, compared to the KeyOne released last year. 

However, the Key2 LE’s discounted price tag comes at a cost. 

The phone has a worse processor, less RAM, downgraded cameras and a smaller battery than the Key2. 

Additionally, it’s made out of polycarbonate instead of metal, which might make it feel a bit cheaper to some consumers. 

It still retains the full HD display used on the Key2, as well as the same buttons, like the Speed Key which enables users to access keyboard shortcuts. 

The device, which runs on Android, also got some software upgrades. 

BlackBerry is rolling out new features like advanced power management in the Key2 LE and eventually the Key2. It analyzes your smartphone habits to recommend when to charge your phone, as well as free time in your day by looking at a user’s calendar.

BlackBerry is rolling out new features like advanced power management in the Key2 LE and eventually the Key2.

It analyzes your smartphone habits to recommend when to charge your phone, as well as free time in your day by looking at a user's calendar

BlackBerry is rolling out new features like advanced power management in the Key2 LE and eventually the Key2. It analyzes your smartphone habits to recommend when to charge your phone, as well as free time in your day by looking at a user’s calendar

Another feature lets users download two versions of the same app, which could be useful if someone is running a social media account for their business and wants to keep that separate from their personal one. 

BlackBerry is again highlighting security with the Key2 LE, including features like a digital ‘locker’ on the device, which lets users store files securely on their phone, so that they can’t be opened without their fingerprint.

Users can add the same restrictions to certain apps and photos.

The Key2 LE comes as TCL has struggled to break into the smartphone market as rivals Apple, Samsung, Huawei and others contain to maintain a hold. 

TCL’s mobile phone and equipment shipments dipped 41% year-over-year in the first quarter, according to CNBC. 

What’s more, BlackBerry comprises less than a tenth of a percent of the global handset market, Counterpoint Research said. 

Still, the Key2 LE demonstrates how the company is hoping it can appeal to a wider audience by launching a cheaper phone that packs all the benefits of Android. 

The Key2 LE goes on sale in September and starts at $399 for a 32 gigabyte model or $449 for a 64 gigabyte version. 

WHAT IS THE BLACKBERRY KEY2? 

Called the Key2, it’s the follow-up to BlackBerry’s surprisingly successful KeyOne smartphone and still features a touchscreen and a keyboard.

This time around, BlackBerry has added slimmer bezels, a larger screen and slightly bigger keys on the Key2.

The device starts at $649 and began shipping earlier this year. 

Like its predecessor, the Key2 is powered by Android and features enhanced privacy controls.

The phone is made by TCL, which bought the rights to sell devices using the BlackBerry brand in 2016.

BlackBerry spruced up a few other features on the Key2, such as adding its first-ever dual-lens camera, which includes portrait mode and Google Lens, the firm’s artificial intelligence-enabled object identifying app.

It also has a new button called the Speed Key, which is a ‘universal shortcut’ key that enables users to quickly access apps, contacts and other functions ‘from anywhere on your device at any time’. 

The keys are ‘20% larger’ than the KeyOne and the keyboard can also be used to scroll up and down a webpage.

BlackBerry is again highlighting security with the Key2, including features like a digital ‘locker’ on the device, which lets users store files securely on their phone, so that they can’t be opened without their fingerprint.

Users can add the same restrictions to certain apps and photos.

It also has Firefox as the browser, which allows for truly anonymous browsing. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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