It’s no secret BlackBerry’s had a tough time of it in the smartphone market recently. Despite having great security software and having migrated from its less-than-popular BlackBerry 10 OS to Android, the company’s phones have continued to play second fiddle to the likes of Samsung and Apple.
That's why I didn’t expect much from the charismatically named BlackBerry DTEK60. After all, it is, on paper, yet another pretty dull Android phone aimed at the £400-500 target being peppered by numerous other handsets, such as the HTC 10 Evo and OnePlus 3T.
However, I can confirm that my opening fears were misguided. The DTEK60 is one of the best BlackBerry phones to date and an ideal choice for any security-conscious buyer.
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Smartphone connoisseurs may get a sense of déjà vu when looking at the DTEK60 – and for good reason. The phone is based on a reference design from Chinese firm TCL, which has made handsets for numerous other companies this year. As consequence it looks all but identical to the Alcatel Idol 4S and Vodafone Smart Platinum 7, outside of the BlackBerry logo emblazoned upon its back.
The similarities are a blessing and a curse. The glass front and back faces look nice but, like the 4S and Platinum 7, they’re fingerprint and scratch magnets and quickly become slippy to hold in wet weather, which is a problem in the regularly moist British climate.
However, these issues are counterbalanced by the intelligent placement of the DTEK60’s rear fingerprint scanner and useful “Convenience” key. The fingerprint scanner sits just below the DTEK60’s rear camera sensor, which protrudes noticeably from the phone’s back. I’ve always prefered a back-facing placement for fingerprint scanners over front-facing ones, such as those on the Galaxy S7 and HTC 10, which require you to awkwardly rejig the way you naturally hold a handset. The scanner’s also suitably fast and makes it quick and easy to unlock the DTEK60, or approve certain actions such as NFC and in-app payments.
The Convenience key sits in the middle of the phone’s right-hand side – the same position occupied by the Alcatel Idol 4S’s “Boom” button. Unlike the Boom button, which tried and failed to improve the phone’s audio quality, the DTEK60’s Convenience button is customisable and lets you choose what action you’d like it to take. You can set it to do everything from opening applications to switching a setting on or off. This sounds small, but I found it very useful as a quick way to mute the phone.
The 32GB of built-in storage is pretty par for the course and those who wish to can add another 2TB using the DTEK60’s microSD card slot.
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The 5.5-inch AMOLED display isn’t the best I’ve ever seen, but for the money it’s more than good enough and easily beats those on pretty much every other £400-500 phone I’ve tested on quality, outside of the OnePlus 3T's.
Blacks are nicely inky and, unlike on some some cheaper AMOLED displays, colours aren’t overcooked. The 2,560 x 1,440-pixel Quad HD resolution gives it a super-high 534ppi (pixels per inch) density, making it all but impossible to discern individual pixels. In short, the screen is more than good enough for most regular users.
My only minor quibbles are that whites aren’t quite as clean as I’d like, and the maximum brightness isn't quite high enough. This means that the phone can become tricky to use in bright light, though being fair to BlackBerry this is an issue on most of the phones I test.