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Jun 7, 2018

BlackBerry goes back to QWERTY with new KEY2 device

Amanda Lang: BlackBerry's value wasn't in its phones, but its IP

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BlackBerry is going back to basics with its new device.

Smartphone manufacturer TCL Communication unveiled the new BlackBerry KEY2 on Thursday and brought back a long-standing favourite feature among BlackBerry devotees: The QWERTY keyboard.

While TCL boasted new features, including a dual-rear camera and enhanced privacy controls, it’s the keyboard that highlights the launch.

"We've created a distinct smartphone that captures all the traits that have made BlackBerry smartphones iconic, while introducing new innovations and experiences that not only make this one of the best devices for security and privacy, but also the most advanced BlackBerry smartphone ever," Alain Lejeune, senior vice-president of TCL Communication and president of BlackBerry Mobile, said in a statement.

The Android-powered KEY2 also boasts a new Speed Key functionality that allows users quicker access to apps as well as a stronger aluminum frame and a tougher, more scratch-resistant glass screen.

The KEY2 is the sequel to last year’s KEYone, which was the first BlackBerry phone released under a licensing deal with Chinese manufacturer TCL. Waterloo, Ont.-based BlackBerry announced in September 2016 that it will stop making its own hardware to focus on software and services.

The KEY2 starts at $829 in Canada and will begin shipping this month.