China’s TCL Launches Security-Oriented BlackBerry Key2

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The high-end device features dual rear cameras, a dedicated shortcut key and unique security and privacy features

Chinese electronics firm TCL has launched its latest high-end BlackBerry device under licence from Canada’s BlackBerry Ltd, featuring unique security and privacy features – and BlackBerry’s signature hardware keyboard.

The BlackBerry Key2 is to go on sale in the US market, priced at $659 (£490), at a time when the US government has limited access by larger Chinese phone makers such as ZTE and Huawei over national security concerns. In the UK it is to sell for £579.

It’s the first BlackBerry smartphone to feature dual rear cameras, and also includes a customisable shortcut button called the Speed Key.

As with TCL’s  KeyOne, the Key2’s physical keyboard features a fingerprint sensor in the spacebar. The keyboard is now backlit and has 20 percent higher keys.

‘Most secure’ Android phone?

The device runs Google’s Android 8.1 Oreo and, unlike many Android handsets, includes monthly security updates.

The device features BlackBerry’s own additional security, privacy and productivity tools, along with the security-oriented Firefox Focus mobile browser.

A BlackBerry app called DTEK allows users to see and manage how data is used by the device’s applications, while a Locker tool creates private folders that aren’t accessible from the network.

BlackBerry stopped making smartphones itself in 2016. This is the third device produced under its partnership with TCL, under which BlackBerry controls the smartphones software and signs off on security updates.

TCL said the new device is the “most secure” Android smartphone on the market.

Keyboard shortcuts

It has an aluminium frame, a textured back and a 4.5-inch display, like its predecessor.

Other features include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor, 64GB of storage, with a 128GB variant available, a microSD slot, 6GB of RAM, and a 3500mAh battery.

TCL says the device can run for up to two days on a single charge, and a Smart Battery Experience feature allows users to track charging habits and receive recommendations on the best times to charge during the day.

It features two 12MP rear cameras and an 8MP front camera, as well as a headphone jack.

The Speed Key works with any of the other 52 keys to launch customisable shortcuts calling up an app, a contact or another feature.

TCL said the Key2 offered an experience “distinct” from that of other smartphones – which critics have noticed look increasingly alike.

“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,” stated TCL senior vice president Alain Lejeune.

TCL said the Key2 would launch in some markets later this motnh and worldwide from next month.

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