Review: The BlackBerry KEY2 gets things done

The hard keyboard is back on BlackBerry’s latest phone, with tweaks and updates for serious grown-up users who care about productivity and security.

At a Glance
  • BlackBerry KEY2

“You’re reviewing a BlackBerry?” my 16-year-old asked, incredulously. “What is this — the 1980s?”

First of all, kid, you need to check your timeline: BlackBerries first came out in the ‘90s, not the ‘80s. Second of all, well, yeah. Point taken. This is not a phone for teenagers. This is a phone for Getting Stuff Done.

BlackBerries are not cool. They may actually be the definition of anti-cool, although the company would vastly prefer the word “iconic.” When the folks from BlackBerry and TCL (the Chinese company that actually builds the device) debuted the phone for the press a few weeks ago, scarcely a sentence was uttered that didn’t include some form of the word “icon.”

It’s a fair argument, and BlackBerry is blessed with a strong brand image. LG advertises its phones using celebrities that take selfies using voice control. Apple sells its phones with splashy music videos. Samsung touts its products by exploiting frustrations with Apple. BlackBerry doesn’t advertise much, but it has an indelible image. You certainly remember the news photo of a few years ago: a globe-trotting secretary of state, sitting alone at the front of a government jet, looking deadly serious and utterly focused on her BlackBerry. If your job involves saving the world, the message is, you need to use a BlackBerry.

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