BlackBerry KEY2 LE Review

BlackBerry KEY2 LE available now in multiple markets worldwide

In early October the BlackBerry KEY2 LE began rolling out to key markets worldwide and the team at BerryReporter have gotten our hands on the device to review. We were able to road test the Slate coloured 32GB single SIM version of the LE for the last month in various settings and I’m happy to say we are finally able to give you our findings.

First off let’s look at the differences between the two devices by comparing the specs from a visual perspective. Now to the naked eye the BlackBerry KEY2 LE and the KEY2 look very similar and they both the KEY2 feel great in hand with a pimpled rubber back cover to improve grip. Also both devices are offered in various colours with KEY2 in Black and Silver and KEY2 LE in the arguably more eye catching Slate, Champagne and Atomic Red colours. Both KEY2 models have 4.5-inch LCD screens with 1620 x 1080 resolution but there is a slight difference in weight with 156g for the KEY2 LE and KEY2 weighing in at 168g and slightly wider. The other main differences from a visual perspective which accounts the difference in weight is that KEY2LE is made out of plastic and the KEY2 has been manufactured using more sturdy aluminum. The use of plastic with the LE does have its advantages as the signal and call quality is better on this device in comparison to the KEY2 as the aluminum frame of the device slightly restricts the signal.

Taking a look at some of the other specs where as both devices contain a QWERTY keyboard that features the brand new speed key for multitasking more efficiently, the LE keys are 10% smaller than the KEY2. Another element that KEY2 LE sadly doesn’t feature in comparison to the KEY2 is the more advanced tactile capacitive keyboard that BlackBerry innovated back on their first Android device the PRIV 3 years ago. Focusing on the processor and memory of the KEY2, this phone relies on a 2.2GHz Snapdragon 660 processor, backed up by 6GB of RAM and 64GB or a dual SIM device with 128GB of storage. As for the Key2 LE, it features a slightly less powerful Snapdragon 636 processor and only 4GB of RAM onboard. When it comes to storage, KEY2 LE version comes with 32GB of memory, however there is a 64GB dual SIM model that is also be available in select markets throughout the world.

KEY2 LE Slate version

Moving onto the battery power, BlackBerry Mobile/TCL has placed has included a slightly smaller 3,000 mAh battery in the KEY2 LE. In contrast, the big brother KEY2 phone has a 3,500 mAh powerhouse battery under the hood which pushes the phone into 2 days of battery life from one charge with the LE still getting an impressive day and half from our testing. The KEY2 LE also features Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology and BlackBerry Boost Mode software delivering 50% charge in just 36 minutes.

Focusing on the cameras both the KEY2 LE and the KEY2 have dual-camera systems installed on the back, but the KEY2’s again is slightly more advanced spec wise. The big bro KEY2 has a dual 12-megapixel+12-megapixel sensors on the rear while the Key2 LE features a lower specced 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel combination. The selfie snapper is the same in both cases, an 8-megapixel sensor with f/2.0. Key2 LE users will be able to use an exclusive beauty filter on the front facing camera which in our testing unfortunately we were unable to get this to work.

Security is what BlackBerry does best and software wise both devices are rocking their market leading, hardened and secured version of Oreo 8.1 with Pie 9.0 on the way next year. The devices also both include the BlackBerry suite of apps productivity pre-installed including the new Locker mode that protects your files and private pics and videos but also comes preinstalled with Firefox Focus for safer browsing. A new Sound Recorder app was also included with both phones allowing you to record notes on your BlackBerry device. KEY2 LE debuted three new exclusive software features including app cloning for the likes of WhatsApp and Instagram, Google Assistant and Google Lens built into a new Convenience key feature as well as enhanced camera features such as widescreen selfie mode and a new beauty filter. BlackBerry swiftly rolled out a software update in late October and the security patch to the KEY2 bring parity to the two devices and included all of the above features barring the new front facing camera beauty filter. So from a software perspective everything is pretty much the same between the two phones however we found some bugs on the LE where Google Lens isn’t pre installed on this device nor is it available via the device camera as advertised by BlackBerry Mobile. Now this isn’t to say that the LE doesnt feature Google Lens however you can only access this through the Google Assistant.

Atomic Red model of the new KEY2 LE

The differences between the two devices isn’t just reflected in the specs but also in the prices with KEY2 LE 32GB device retailing at GBP 349, USD 400 and EUR 399 and 64GB dual SIM at GBP 399, USD 450 and EUR 429. The KEY2 in comparison is retailing for 64GB at GBP 579, USD 649 and EUR 649 with 128GB version priced at GBP 629, USD 699 and EURO 699. Some breaking news from our friends at BlackBerry Mobile is that we will finally see Atomic Red version of the BlackBerry KEY2 LE in time for holiday season from TCL/BlackBerry Mobile’s own online store. A 64GB dual SIM version of the eagerly awaited Atomic Red device will start rolling out in the UK, EU and other key markets from December 6th at GBP 399 and EUR 429.

Now depending on your budget as well as your own personal tastes this will help you decide whether you would trade the more funkier colour schemes of the KEY2 LE with the more business like look and powerhouse performance of the KEY2. In our humble opinion the KEY2 LE isn’t a bad device, and despite the lower specs the battery performs well, there is no considerable slow down whilst multitasking in comparison to KEY2 and the call quality is slightly better on the LE. One area where the LE does fall down in relation to the KEY2 is the camera which performance wise doesn’t hold up to its big brother. Also for me the keyboard is a big selling point on the KEY2 with its slightly bigger keys and the capacitive keyboard it’s definitely the best BlackBerry ever built to date. The KEY2 LE is great device at great price point for emerging markets but also for businesses looking to purchase great company phones for their staff en bulk that will allow their team to be productive but also use the personal apps they know and on love on Android. Those who like to protect their devices will be happy to know that the team at TCL/BlackBerry Mobile do have a line of LE cases available for you to purchase but I found from my own testing the KEY2 cases both fit the LE but the headphone jacks sadly don’t align themselves exactly.

Do let us know in the comments below your thoughts on our review and if you will be picking the BlackBerry KEY2 LE or the KEY2.

 

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HakBerry

BerryReporter's International Correspondent based in London, UK and has been a BlackBerry user since 2004 across 16 different devices. My first BlackBerry was a blue 7290 and I'm currently using both a BlackBerry KEY2 and Motion for work and personal use. I love running and going to the gym plus I'm also a huge music, movie, tech and sports fan. My favourite sports include Boxing; MMA and Athletics to Basketball (Miami Heat) and Football (Liverpool FC). You can add me on BBM via my custom PIN: USMmedia

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