BlackBerry Key2 LE first look: A red BlackBerry?

Key Features

  • 4.5-inch 1080p display
  • Snapdragon 636
  • 4GB RAM
  • 32GB/64GB storage
  • Android 8.1 Oreo
  • Full QWERTY keyboard

BlackBerry Key2 LE first look: A cheaper, lighter Key 2

Just a few months after the release of the BlackBerry Key2, the TCL-owned brand is back with a lighter, cheaper version of its keyboard-toting smartphone.

The BlackBerry Key2 LE looks very much like its pricier sibling, boasting virtually the same design and keyboard. Look a little deeper, however, and you’ll discover that plenty has changed  – sometimes even for the better.

BlackBerry Key2 LE – Price and release date

The Key2 LE will retail for £349/$399 for the 32GB version and £399/$449 for the 64GB option. It will go on sale from October.

Gone is the harsh, angular metal body of the Key2, replaced by a much softer polycarbonate shell. From my short time with the LE, the device felt instantly better than the Key2. It’s more comfortable to hold, with the reduction in weight making a real difference too. It doesn’t feel overly plasticky, either, and in terms of durability, will live up to the expectations you’d have of a BlackBerry device.

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Also new is a hit of colour. The past few BlackBerry handsets have offered a choice of either black or silver. However, the LE is also available in a vivid red option, which looks super-slick. The red hue can be seen on the rim around the side and between the keys of the keyboard, while the rest of the phone remains black. There’s a soft gold option, too, plus a dark blue that also makes a nice change from black.

The keyboard itself is similar to the one you’ll find on the regular Key2. It’s slightly smaller overall, but the keys are still 10% bigger than those on the KeyOne. It remains very comfortable to type on. The fingerprint scanner remains embedded into the spacebar and there’s a handy ‘Speed Key’ for quickly jumping between apps.

However, the Key2 LE is missing the capacitive trackpad beneath the keys. This allowed you to scroll through sites, emails and the like without touching the screen. It was a decent addition, but I can see that it’s been omitted here in order to keep the price down.

The internal specifications out the Key2 LE firmly into the smartphone mid-range. There’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 mobile platform, 4GB of RAM and either 32 or 64GB of storage. There’s microSD support, too, so you can expand that storage further.

The BlackBerry Key2 LE’s 3000mAh battery might not sound huge – there are plenty of phones around with far more sizeable batteries, after all  – but pair it with the energy-efficient processor and the fairly small 4.5-inch 1080p display and you should have a device that could offer great endurance.

Like the Key2, the LE features two cameras on the handset’s rear: a main 13-megapixel sensor and a secondary 5-megapixel sensor. 4K video recording is present, too, as is an 8-megapixel camera on the front for selfies. Optics haven’t been a strong point in the past few BlackBerry devices, so it will be interesting to see how well the Key 2 LE performs here.

First impressions

If you’ve been in the market for a keyboard-toting BlackBerry but weren’t prepared to pay the £599 asking price of the Key2, then the LE is perfect.

It isn’t quite as feature-rich as the Key2, but those it does lose aren’t anything other than a luxury.

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