back to article BlackBerry KEY2 LE: The first budget Android QWERTY for years

On a recent press trip to IFA, I noticed several journalists discreetly packed a BlackBerry as a second phone. By day they wrote about gadgets, and the BlackBerry wouldn't get name-dropped. But they clearly felt it had value on gruelling long days. Or maybe it's the buttons, which make instant access to alerts and data far …

  1. DropBear Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Close but no cigar

    Dear phone makers,

    landscape QWERTY. L-a-n-d-s-c-a-p-e.

    1. tony72

      Re: Close but no cigar

      You keytards are never satisfied, are you?

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Close but no cigar

        Dvorak. D-v-o-r-a-k.

        Not a keytard though, I'm happy with my Hacker's Keyboard in Dvorak mode.

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: Close but no cigar

          Apparently a downvote from the guy who's never tried a Dvorak keyboard...

          I'm using one right now. Took two days to get used to, and my aching wrists stopped. Although, to be fair, it's pretty pointless on a phone. :)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Close but no cigar

          Unfortunately Hacker's Keyboard was recently pulled from the Play Store. They're currently in appeal.

          https://github.com/klausw/hackerskeyboard/issues/668

          Funny thing is I had been using Hacker's Keyboard up until a few months ago, but the English completion dictionary disappeared from the store. Now the dictionary is back but the keyboard app is gone.

          1. onefang Silver badge

            Re: Close but no cigar

            "Unfortunately Hacker's Keyboard was recently pulled from the Play Store."

            F-Droid has it. That's where I installed it from.

            https://github.com/klausw/hackerskeyboard/issues/668

            Which mentions a few places you can get it, including F-Droid, and obviously Github.

            "Funny thing is I had been using Hacker's Keyboard up until a few months ago, but the English completion dictionary disappeared from the store."

            Those should be "available from the website" according to F-Droid. Which means Github I think.

      2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Close but no cigar

        Its to expensive

        "You keytards are never satisfied, are you?"

        ... That is correct :(

    2. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Close but no cigar

      Landscape? Really? You do realise how that would impact the usable screen don't you?

      I have a KeyOne which is very similar in size and a quick shows the keyboard would take half of the screen area if they tried that unless they went for a more square phone a la the Passport as the keyboard needs a strip about 4cm tall to fit in the keys.

      1. Clive Galway

        Re: Close but no cigar

        See HTC Touch Pro (2008) - slider horizontal QWERTY with full size screen.

        I just want a modern phone in this form-factor.

        1. rmason Silver badge

          Re: Close but no cigar

          Apart from the slide/vs sort-of-clamshell approach, it's the planetcom gemini, which they mention in the article, that you appear to want.

          It's the only thing close to what you want. It's a thing you can go and buy now. Sorted.

          1. Clive Galway

            Re: Close but no cigar

            No, the slider was the whole point.

            Keep it closed and it's a regular touchscreen device. Open it up and it's a QWERTY.

            I don't want to be opening a clamshell just to tell who is calling.

        2. Down not across

          Re: Close but no cigar

          See HTC Touch Pro (2008) - slider horizontal QWERTY with full size screen.

          I just want a modern phone in this form-factor.

          I'm hoping HMD Global will, in their stream of remaking Nokia's old models, get around to making the Communicator.

        3. Franco Silver badge

          Re: Close but no cigar

          "HTC Touch Pro (2008) - slider horizontal QWERTY with full size screen."

          Still my favourite ever smartphone. HTC's TouchFlo interface was so good compared to the alternatives in those days.

        4. hammarbtyp Silver badge

          Re: Close but no cigar

          Maybe blackberry should do an updated Psion Series 5

        5. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Re: Close but no cigar

          Yep. I loved my Sony Ericcson Xperia Pro, and then a EU converted Motorola after that. I'd still be using them if they had enough power.

          As it is, I'm still on my (insecure, because Blackberry stopped issuing updates) Priv, and trying to decide whether to buy a KEY2 (too expensive at the moment, maybe a Black Friday sale?). The Moto Mod keyboard is dead. The 'Q device' - not holding my breath on that arriving. The Gemini - well, it's not a phone, is it - form factor is a bit too large to pick up and put down, and it's fecking expensive.

          If the Key2 gets close to £400 I'll probably go for it, which still rankles as the screen is smaller than the Priv, and there's only two years of guaranteed security updates at that point.. I'm not going for an LE, as the swiping functionality in the keyboard is very useful.

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Close but no cigar

        > Landscape? Really? You do realise how that would impact the usable screen don't you?

        My Motorola Droid had a landscape slide-out keyboard. Didn't impact the usable screen at all.

      3. Dave559

        Re: Close but no cigar

        The Nokia E7 had a great form factor: a really nice slide out landscape keyboard, which was very quick and comfortable for typing on. Even if you were using the phone in portrait mode, it quickly became almost an automatic reaction to turn, flip, slide, type, if you wanted to write anything more than a few words. And there was nothing stopping you from using the on-screen keyboard in either portrait or landscape mode if you wanted.

        (Unfortunately, Nokia set fire to Symbian (and also MeeGo) before I could find out just what the longevity of the admittedly somewhat complicated hinge arrangement really was…)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Close but no cigar

      I had a Sony Ericsson P1i where the keys could be pressed left or right for separate letters. Very efficient and compact and surprisingly comfortable. That was a good alternative to landscape. Bringing an updated P1i back would make me happy. Especially the baseband part was excellent and I never lost a call.

    4. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Close but no cigar

      Dear phone makers,

      landscape QWERTY. L-a-n-d-s-c-a-p-e.

      This makes me so sad. All I've ever wanted since 1997 was a Psion 5 with a nicer screen and a decent modem built in. I don't even want the software changed, it was just fine as it was before Nokia got their hands on it and ruined everything.

      I know people who used Psion 5s and IR connected phones for all their mobile business needs. Pretty cool, especially for the late 1990s. In Japan in particular, where the road warriors struggled from meeting to meeting lugging a heavy laptop around, being able to do the same thing with nothing but a Psion 5 in the suit pocket was showing off big time. And, this being Japan, you'd not need an overnight bag either. Psion never, ever thought to do a Japanese version, they'd have made it big time had they done that.

  2. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Considering there's the Gemini

    which offers even normal operating systems instead of an Android that locks out the user, as well as a much more sensible clamshell design, there isn't really a reason to buy such a stripped down minimal keyboard blackberry.

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Considering there's the Gemini

      The Gemini is a PDA/mini computer, not a phone. A phone is something you can hold in one hand.

      With the Blackberry phones you can operate them one handed (although typing one handed on a Priv is very awkward). You have a choice of swiping, or typing (which is better with two hands).

      The landscape Xperia Pro and the Droid phones I had previously featured a keyboard that slid out from under the screen.

      Pick up one handed, swipe a bit, possibly use the keyboard using your second hand, return to one handed use, put it down closing the keyboard with a single hand. If it can't do that, it's a failure as a keyboard phone.

      It's also possible to switch a landscape Android phone to portrait mode with the keyboard closed, which you might want to do for portrait optimised/poorly developed Android apps. That's going to look exceedingly silly with a Gemini, if it's even possible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Considering there's the Gemini

        Yes it's possible to switch the Gemini to portrait mode.

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Nope

    Blackberry won't unlock the bootloader, so my apps that need root (for things like backups) won't work.

    1. seven of five

      Re: Nope

      Unlocking the bootloader would defy the point of buying blackberry in first place, though...

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Nope

        Not really. There are several usage models for Blackberry.

        There's the whole secure device, certificate of trust model wanted by some businesses and individuals.

        Then there's 'I want an Android device with a keyboard'. I don't care about the secure kernel, and wish I could root the device to ensure continued updates, and the ability to do things such as extended ad blocking, etc.

        It's a bonus to have the Hub software, and the keyboard/soft keyboard are both great. DTEK is a chocolate teapot, however.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: DTek

          I find it quite handy, with it's different way to view permissions. Shows you everything that's got access to a permission, not something that Android shows you itself AFAIK.

  4. Simulacra75

    Cobalt "soft" keyboard for Android

    Look it up. Blackberry keyboard functionality on my Samsung S7. Absolute godsend. Well worth a test drive, if you haven't tried it out before.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    We need more phone manufacturers to produce Android phones in form factors other than a standard touch screen rectangle. Perhaps if some of the also rans starting to thing outside what Apple, Samsung, Google produce. They might find they can grow their market share for those who would like a Qwerty keyboard.

  6. Kev99 Bronze badge

    But is it available in US?

  7. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Price is still not anywhere near "work phone" bracket

    TCL's BlackBerry Mobile clearly thinks there are businesses prepared to make make bulk purchases of QWERTYs in 2018, especially one with a suggested retail price of £349

    Amazon starts at 527.28. Which is an immediate NO. If it was 350 I would have considered it, but at that price. Nope. I will continue suffering from typing on a capacitive screen.

    1. Sartori

      Re: Price is still not anywhere near "work phone" bracket

      If you go through the official website and click on Buy Now, they show 2 sellers, and Unlocked Mobiles have it in stock for £290.83 + a pricey £12.80 postage. Or the other link goes to Clove who have it for the stated £349.

    2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Price is still not anywhere near "work phone" bracket

      You're looking at the KEY2, not the KEY2 LE

  8. Boufin

    I really miss my Nokia 9300i

  9. ilmari

    Maybe y7 can type daater ok no. Capacitive touch keyboard, but 2-@5# the poibt wjeb y97 spend nor3 time fixing ty09#?

    Translation:

    Maybe you can type faster on capacitive keyboard, but what's the point when you spend more time fixing typos?

    Or at least, despite efforts I still can't type better than the above on touchscreen. Mind, I held out with qwerty until 2014 or so, so I've only had 4 years practice time..

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