BlackBerry Announces The Key 2 LE Smartphone For $399

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BlackBerry Key 2 LE smartphone
The BlackBerry Key 2 LE. It comes in black, gold, and red. Image obtained with thanks from BlackBerry.

BlackBerry has announced a new iteration of the BlackBerry Key smartphone series — the Key 2 LE. The Key 2 LE is a smartphone with a 35-key keyboard and touch screen resembling that of previous Key models, although the keyboard isn’t touch-sensitive.

The Key 2 LE runs an up-to-date version of Android — Oreo 8.1, which is good news as it can run the latest Android apps, and that’s also good from a security standpoint.

The Key 2 LE is equipped with the BlackBerry Locker, which is a highly useful feature enabling you to isolate photos, files, and even apps for privacy and security purposes and lock them with a password or fingerprint.

If you’re familiar with Samsung’s Secure Folder, this offers the same functionality. Potential use cases for this folder include the protection of your e-mails, financial apps such as PayPal or cryptocurrency wallets (like Bitcoin), mobile banking apps, social media apps, and anything you want or need to be private.

The BlackBerry Key 2 LE is equipped with a 4.5″ 1080p IPS  LCD display, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (there is also a 64GB option, and it facilitates further expansion via a hot-swappable microSD card slot), and a Qualcomm® SDM 636 octa-core CPU (4 of the cores are 1.8 GHZ and the other 4 are 1.6 GHZ).

While 1080p screens are often 1920 x 1080 pixels, this one has a resolution of 1620 x 1080 pixels and a pixel density of 434 PPI. While this is a high resolution, the aspect ratio is a slightly unusual 1.5 (3:2). Smartphones typically have an aspect ratio of 1.7 (16:9).

This isn’t that significant, as video playback in landscape mode should still be pleasant. I don’t know how that will affect games or other apps, if at all. Keyboards usually reduce aspect ratio like this because some screen space has to be sacrificed.

This is likely why the keyboard is slimmer than that of older models (to facilitate a greater aspect ratio). Portrait mode should be fine, as the screen is 1080 pixels wide in that orientation. Overall, if you want a physical keyboard and the experience of a typical touchscreen, the BlackBerry Key 2 LE offers a decent combination of the two.

The battery life is up to 22.5 hours with its 3,000 mAh battery, and it comes with a 9 Volt, 2 Amp 18-Watt QC3.0 Charger (a big upgrade from their older 5-Watt chargers with regards to charging times). The USB-C (USB 3.1) port is a nice addition, as USB-C to USB-C transfers are much faster than that of USB 2.0 and 3.0 (10 Gbps, vs 5 Gbps for USB 3.0).

That makes the process of backup up your files to a USB drive that much quicker (be sure to use it with a USB-C drive to reap the maximum benefit!). The Key 2 LE goes on sale next month and will start at $399.