BlackBerry Key2 review: BlackBerry Key2 review: Strictly for keyboard die-hards

    I did not write this assessment on a BlackBerry Key2. However I wished to. My thumbs have been too sore to let me.

    I believed that after switching my SIM card over to the Key2 — BlackBerry Cellular’s second try at creating a contemporary Android cellphone with a bodily QWERTY keyboard —  I would regain my outdated knack for typing on a bodily keyboard. I used to like these issues.

    However after utilizing the Key2 for completely all the things for greater than per week, my thumbs ache, I really feel hobbled and sluggish, and the work of urgent further buttons for punctuation makes me weary to the core.

    That is a glum starting for a cellphone with improbable battery life and genuinely sensible concepts, like keyboard shortcuts, a devoted shortcuts button on the aspect of the cellphone and widgets which can be constructed into your display icons. Plus, there is a new “Pace Key” that helps you open the shortcut app irrespective of which display you are on. The area bar doubles as a fingerprint reader (although I had some issues with accuracy) and there is a productiveness tab that reveals your calendar appointments and climate at-a-glance.

    The Key2 additionally drastically improves final yr’s KeyOne ($400 at from nostril to tail in virtually each means, from the scale and form of the keyboard buttons to the twin cameras on the again — a primary for BlackBerry gadgets.

    However there are unignorable drawback areas, like the truth that apps are inclined to lag after they load, and a few apps set off a digital keyboard, like Gmail, which stacks the smooth keyboard stacked on prime of the cellphone’s keyboard, with little display area left over. The cellphone’s contact display did not all the time reply because it ought to have, so I typically tapped the identical space a number of occasions.

    Try that traditional BlackBerry brand.

    Josh Miller/CNET

    When all of it boils down, the Key2 is not the cellphone for many; it definitely is not the cellphone for me. However BlackBerry followers like Susan, the beautiful girl who owns a body store in San Francisco and squealed in delight when she noticed the Key2 in my hand, will get an upgraded expertise over older fashions just like the BlackBerry Passport ($223 at she makes use of.

    Longtime BlackBerry followers who love the accuracy and physicality of urgent down on actual keys will even embrace the Key2. However I hope BlackBerry Cellular could have labored out the kinks by the point we see subsequent yr’s Key3.

    The BlackBerry Key2 goes on sale July 13 and preorders start June 29. It sells for $649 and £579. The US worth converts to roughly AU$847.

    BlackBerry Key2 keyboard: Is it any good?

    Great things first. The Key2 buttons enhance on final yr’s KeyOne. They’re 20 % taller, simpler to grip, and higher separated than earlier than. Keyboard shortcuts are the cellphone’s finest function. You may customise as much as 52 apps or duties to load if you short-press or long-press a key. It is really terrific.


    An in depth look a that new Pace Key.

    Josh Miller/CNET

    Sadly, relating to typing on the Key2, I am all thumbs. That is so far as I bought writing notes concerning the Key2 utilizing the notes app and the QWERTY keyboard:

    • Thumbs harm
    • I do not wish to textual content rather a lot
    • Typically I’ve to manually faucet the textual content subject to position the cursor. Does not all the time populate the primary accessible textual content subject*
    • Contact display does not appear uniformly responsive
    • I preserve urgent the capacitive house button and the goal retains registering on the display simply above the button – boo
    • Every little thing feels slower. Navigation; switching apps
    • Miss an all the time on show
    • Like that there is a inbuilt file folder

    *The cellphone is meant to allow you to double-press the area bar to position the cursor in a subject, however that did not ever work for me.


    Typing on the Key2: you may both like it otherwise you’ll hate it.

    Josh Miller/CNET

    I ought to point out that as a cellphone reviewer, sore thumbs are already a hazard of my job, the place I most likely spend extra time smacking my fingers towards a tough glass floor than the typical particular person. I used to be stunned at how a lot the Key2’s bodily keyboard exacerbated the difficulty.

    I additionally felt sluggish, particularly as I bear in mind being a quick, exact typist on a BlackBerry keyboard like the enduring BlackBerry Bold. The Key2’s keyboard nonetheless feels cramped regardless of the bigger buttons. However since folks need their phones to be slim, the Key2’s QWERTY association can get taller, however most likely not a lot wider with out the cellphone getting wider, too.

    My arms are on the smaller aspect, so I did not have issues discovering keys. It was extra that to kind with the correct capitalizations, numbers and punctuation, I needed to break the stream to achieve for the Shift and Alt keys. Should you by accident double-tap Alt, for instance, you are caught typing an extended string of mindless punctuation marks till you understand your mistake. (:*( 4_9’four. <– Sure, that is an actual factor I typed.

    The Key2’s keyboard is touch-sensitive, which suggests you possibly can swipe it to scroll; this works nice from side-to-side, however vertical scrolling, like on an internet web page, was usually sluggish. You are speculated to additionally have the ability to flick up on the bodily keyboard to pick predictive textual content. I discovered that in apps with a digital keyboard enabled, I needed to swipe the digital keyboard as a substitute. The cursor typically appeared in the course of a phrase (as a substitute of on the finish) with out me realizing it. 

    The truth that most of right now’s apps aren’t made for bodily keys means you may usually see the digital keyboard pop up on display anyway, which blocks your view of the app, with no strategy to conceal the digital keyboard.

    BlackBerry Key2 design, digital camera, pace, battery life, all the things else

    And what about the remainder of the cellphone? BlackBerry Cellular deserves a high-five for updating virtually each a part of the Key2’s bodily design and internals. The cellphone runs Android eight.1 Oreo, however when it comes to the software program and structure, the Key2 appears to be like and feels similar to the KeyOne, which ran on Android Nougat 7.1.


    Berry Creek Falls, taken on the BlackBerry Key2.

    Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

    A lot improved design

    Classier appears to be like: In comparison with the KeyOne, the BlackBerry Key2 is far more refined, with straight sides and extra sophisticated-looking aspect buttons and accents. The cellphone bucks traits and retains a rubberized backing. It is not as fancy as glass, however it does not accrue fingerprints and I by no means as soon as anxious I would drop it.

    Comfort key (aka the cellphone’s third aspect button): You may set this as much as float shortcut icons for as much as three apps in your display. I arrange Calendar, Flashlight, and Compose a Gmail message. You  may use this button to modify to a brand new a profile, like your work profile. That is finest for actions you employ usually, or simply wish to get to with out having to scrounge your thoughts. 

    Pace Key: The 9-dot button you press to launch a shortcut from any display. It is a good answer, however apps can take time to load. Issues get complicated right here, so bear with me. You press this button earlier than urgent your shortcut key 1) any time that you simply’re invoking a long-press motion, and a pair of) any time you are invoking a short-press motion from a display aside from the house display.

    Recent Articles

    Related Stories

    Stay on op - Ge the daily news in your inbox