BlackBerry KEY2 LE: The worthy alternative

November 21, 2018

The KEY2’s small brother is here. Let’s take a look.

In our original review of the BlackBerry KEY2 a few months ago, we praised its hardware most especially the keyboard, though we’re not happy about its price. Enter the BlackBerry KEY2 LE, a toned-down version of the KEY2 that comes in at 1,799 AED, noticeably cheaper than the flagship KEY2.

The KEY2 LE does have to give up of the hardware found on the KEY2 for the price to go down, and this includes using a less powerful processor in the form of the Snapdragon 636 CPU along with 4 GB of RAM and your choice of 32 GB or 64 GB of memory. The KEY2 LE also loses the capacitive keyboard found on the KEY2 but I actually liked that they kept the 4.5-inch screen size the same on both devices.

In a time where smartphones usually fight over notches and all-screen displays, the KEY2 LE sticks with what’s it good at – the physical keyboard. It still dominates the front of the smartphone, and if you’re a BlackBerry user you’d already know how excellent the physical keyboard is. The fingerprint sensor housed inside the space bar is still present on the KEY2 LE. USB-C is still the primary port connection and I’m happy to say they’ve kept the 3.5 mm audio jack.

Design-wise the KEY2 LE now made of polycarbonate plastic instead of metal, though I hardly noticed the change in material since it still has the rubberized back that works as a grip when holding the smartphone. It also comes in different colors as well, including gold and red.

The KEY2 LE runs on Android 8.1 Oreo. While other smartphones have a plethora of bloatware installed, the extra apps including in this BlackBerry actually is useful and it’s a welcome feature. DTEK regularly checks the KEY2 LE for any malicious apps and if it’s running the latest software patch (which you’d get regularly). This feature alone already makes me confident about how serious the company is about your data’s security. Even the BlackBerry Hub is something I didn’t realize will be beneficial to my everyday routine. It manages to compile all incoming messages and emails in an organized manner so I can easily view and answer all of them.

The KEY2 LE retains the dual camera setup but now comes in a 13-megapixel and 5-megapixel configuration. Quality is average compared to the KEY2, so don’t expect any excellent shots from the camera.

Despite less powerful hardware, the KEY2 LE managed to show no slowdowns in the weeks that I’ve been using it – even simple games ran smoothly on the smartphone. The 3,000 mAh battery still impresses since I managed to use it on a full day before needing to be charged again. Speaking of charging, the KEY2 LE also supports fast charging, so don’t worry about needing time to charge.

Just like the KEY2, the KEY2 LE will still cater mainly to BlackBerry users. With the KEY2 LE, BlackBerry gives more options for users to enjoy their smartphones with the physical keyboard.

We Love:

+ Cheaper than the KEY2

+ Comes in multiple colors

+ Physical keyboard is great as always

+ No bloatware

We Hate:

– Average camera

Final Rating: 3.5/5

by Victor Philip Ortiz
Tech Enthusiast and Movie Buff. When he’s not busy playing with the latest games, Victor usually spends his time collecting Blu-rays and building his own movie library. As the Online Editor for T3 Middle East, he develops and writes content for which includes reviews, features, and videos in addition to managing its social media and web content.