BlackBerry launches latest phone with appeal to the security-conscious

TCL launches the Black Berry Key2 for $649

TCL launches the Black Berry Key2 for $649

TCL unveiled the BlackBerry KEY2, which runs on Alphabet Inc.'s widely used Android operating system, amid tensions between Washington and Beijing over the sale of Chinese telecommunications equipment in the United States. However, BlackBerry's phones have proved nigh impossible to root, and the Key2 is subject to the same two years of regular security patches and commitment to instant hot fixes as the KeyOne and Motion before it.

Because the keyboard takes up much of the face, the screen is smaller than most other Android smartphones at a mere 4.5 inches. One day before BlackBerry (err, TCL) was set to reveal the successor to last year's KeyOne, the mobile tipster tweeted what appears to be a full specs list for the Key2. They're matte finish, too, with a new fret design that tweaks the key spacing. The company says that key height has been raised 20 percent, in order to offer a more comfortable typing experience, and aid in accuracy.

There's also a new button on the keyboard, which BlackBerry is dubbing the speed key. The phone is now powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor compared to the Snapdragon 625 series on the KEYone. The new device also features Speed Key, a universal shortcut key that lets users access instantly access the apps, contacts and phone functions that they use most often.

The same keyboard features KeyOne users enjoyed, like the trackpad functionality and fingerprint sensor in the spacebar, return for the Key2.

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Both the Key2's sensors are 12-megapixel, but one lens is created to offer a 2x optical zoom effect while also enabling the new Portrait mode with blurry backgrounds. TCL is using them for portrait mode photography along with a lossless zoom - here it's called the "Optical Superzoom" - but the claim is also better auto white balance and faster autofocus, along with improvements in image stabilization. If the microphone is triggered by an app, the phone will give a warning - a clear appeal to consumers who may be anxious by stories about virtual assistants like Google's Alexa eavesdropping on them.

Both phones' camera support 4K video recording at 30 frames per second, and both phones have 8-megapixel fixed focus front cameras with 1080p video recording. This flagship will keep the 3.5 mm audio jack and will have 3,500 mAh battery with QC 3.0. An octa-core Snapdragon 660 processor is stuffed in there along with 6GB of RAM - double what was in the KEYone - and 64GB or 128GB of storage. It supports 18W QuickCharge 3.0 and USB PD 2.0 charging via its USB-C port.

What's different is a minimum of 64 GB of storage space. There's the DTEK app for a quick overview of how secure your phone is plus some new battery management features. A new Proactive Health check feature promises to make that scanning process even easier. The Key2 also ships with the Firefox Focus browser, which is built with privacy in mind.

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