With BlackBerry sliding back into the Android market in a big way at MWC 2017, the team at TCL Communication have continued their careful, respectful and deliberate stewardship of the BlackBerry brand with the launch of the Key 2 earlier this year. Today at IFA Berlin, TCL unveiled the Key 2LE, a mid tiered companion device to compliment the premium Key 2 and add much needed tier to their device line up.

Unsurprisingly the Key 2 LE continues with the form factor of the Key line with a physical keyboard, 3:2 display and a familiar overall design language. The LE has a full polycarbonate frame and features a 4.5″ IPS LCD 1620 x 1080 display. The hardware keys on the LE are a little smaller than on the Key 2 but 10% larger than those on the original Key One.

Under the hood the LE is powered by a Snapdragon 636 with 4GB of RAM and either 32 or 64 GB of on-board storage with a hot swappable SD card, and comes in both a single and dual SIM SKU (we are expecting the Australian market to get the dual SIM 64 GB model but this will be confirmed closer to local release). The Key 2 LE comes in 3 colours, Slate (Blue/Black) Champagne (Gold) and Atomic (Red) which is very sexy!

Port wise the Key 2LE is packing a USB C and a headphone jack. This is a productivity device, make no mistake BlackBerry isn’t about to be anti-consumer and remove useful features, they know their market and the market expects a work horse.

Check out the full specs below:

Key Specifications:BlackBerry Key 2 LE
Release dateNovember 2018
Screen size4.5-inch
Screen technologyIPS LCD
Resolution1,620 x 1,080
Rear camera
  • 13MP
  • 5MP
Rear aperturef/2.2+f/2.4
Front camera8MP
Front aperture
ChipsetSnapdragon 636
Core config4 x 1.8GHz + 4 x 1.6GHz
Battery3,000 mAh
Battery removable
ConnectorUSB type-C
Headphone PortYes
Headphone LocationTop
Speaker ConfigurationBottom
WIFI standards802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth standards5.0 LE
Android OSAndroid 8.1
Vendor skinBlackBerry
Dimensions150.25 x 71.8 x 8.35 mm
  • Slate
  • (Black) Champagne (Gold)
  • Atomic (Red)

The LE will launch with Android 8.1 out of the box but with a commitment to bring Android 9 Pie to the device over the coming months. BlackBerry has also kept up performance with monthly security updates and isicommitting to do the same with the LE, giving a minimum commitment of 2 years of monthly security updates across their “Key” line.

All of the advanced BlackBerry security and productivity features are making their way over to the LE including shortcuts, convenience key, DTEK and the BlackBerry Locker. The locker was released on the Key 2 and provides a typical security “sandbox” for apps, files and images. One absolutely cool feature is if you take a photo using your fingerprint on the sensor that photo will bypass the camera roll, and thus Google Photos backup, and jump into the secured locker. Awesome for confidential images at work.

A new feature launching on the LE that will roll out to the Key 2 is calendar integration with the power management system. Once the device learns your usage habits it will proactivity review your usage and diary commitments and will proactively notify you if you may need to charge your device due to your schedule. Not that the LE will need regular charging; TCL is proud of the 22 hours of mixed usage battery life, but we all have ‘bad days”.

We had a few minutes hands on with the new device and I can say it was lovely. I had a soft spot for the original Key One when I reviewed it last year and I can attest that the LE is a worthy addition to the line.

The BlackBerry Key 2 LE will retail in Australia for $699 AUD and we are confirming with TCL Australia exactly which SKU and colours and when it is heading our way.