The KEY2 uses a display identical to the BlackBerry KEOne's - it's 4.5-inches, diagonally. It's got a resolution of 1080 x 1620 px and has a pixel density of about 434 ppi. This display is protected by Gorilla Glass 3 whilst the KEYOne had Gorilla Glass 4. Gorilla Glass 3 offers a different balance between durability and flexibility that also costs less.
The company was set on using a smartphone display with an antiquated aspect ratio. This 3:2 ratio is optimized for viewing documents and reading longer emails. The fact that this display is not of a more standard wide (16:9) aspect ratio makes it natively incompatible with multimedia consumption.
Standard-definition TV has an aspect ratio of 4:3 while today's widescreen TV standard is 16:9. No matter what you're watching, there is a really good chance you'll see it with letterbox bars either above or beside the picture. The camera's native aspect ratio is 4:3 and while you can change it to 3:2, doing so will crop the photo.
While we're still on the topic of aspect ratio, watching Instagram or Snapchat stories on different aspect ratios will simply crop the image. IG stories created on the KEY2 will be stretched tall (for taller phones) and crop some of the sides of the image. On the flip side, watching IG videos created on taller displays will crop the upper and lower ends off, so much so that text or stickers may be cropped or not visible.
Aside from the crop factor, the KEY2's display produces a soft image when watching videos or even reading text. This probably isn't noticeable to the average person, but to our trained eyes, we can really see a noticable softness in pictures and video.
The display brightness on the KEY2 isn't as intense as we saw on the KEYOne, but it's still fairly visible in direct sunlight. 434 nits can be reached with automatic brightness disabled. When enabled, the brightness boost brings the display to 577 nits. Minimum brightness is pretty good at 4.7 nits.
|Display test||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
There are three color profiles: Natural, Boosted, and Saturated. Color reproduction isn't perfect on the KEY2: we saw an average DeltaE of 4.7 with a max DeltaE of 11.4 at cyan. Otheriwse, all colors have a distinct cold hue so whites look a bit on the blue side. The boosted profile is great if you like that "AMOLED" look.
There is no way to tune the colors to your liking, but the most accurate profile is the default "Natural" one.
The BlackBerry KEY2 managed well enough outdoors, on a bright sunny day, but definitely left more to be desired. The fairly modest Max Auto mode did help legibility a bit. At the end of the day, we'd say this phone's visibility in sunlight is generally average: not great, but not terrible.
If you like to wear polarized sunglasses, viewing the display in the standard portrait orientation is no problem. When turning the phone to landscape mode to take a photo or watch a video, the screen goes completely dark when viewing through polarized lenses, so do keep that in mind.
The KEY2 has an identically sized battery to the KEYOne's, it's a 3,500 mAh battery. The choice of using an efficient Snapdragon 660 on the 14nm process paired with a relatively low-resolution display was a great recipe for battery life. The BlackBerry KEYOne already had exceptional battery endurance and we can say the same thing about the KEY2.
The KEY2 scored 86 hours overall in our endurance scores. We saw the best improvement in call time, which was about 50% improved with a call time of 30:58h. The browser test scored less than an hour better than the KEYOne - 11:48h.
Finally, video playback saw about the same endurance time at 12:33h. With the KEY2, a full battery should last you at least one full day of heavy usage. Lighter usage could easily take you into the next day.
Our endurance rating denotes how long a single battery charge will last you if you use the BlackBerry KEY2 for an hour each of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. We've established this usage pattern so our battery results are comparable across devices in the most common day-to-day tasks. The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.
The BlackBerry KEY2 supports Quick Charge 3.0 and offers a few power-management features baked into the UI. The first one you'll notice is Boost charging. Upon plugging the BlackBerry in, you're asked if you'd like to charge normally or with Boost mode. Boost mode is basically a "power save mode" that activates while the phone is charging so that it can charge quicker.
New to the KEY2 is a smart power management feature that will learn your normal charging routine and will occasionally warn you if it estimates you will drop below 20% before making it to your regular charging window.
Like the KEYOne before it, the KEY2 is prone to becoming quite warm while Quick Charging. We attribute this to the phone's textured backplate, which insulates the heat behind the back cover. Just make sure you leave it somewhere well ventilated for optimal charging. We saw the BlackBerry KEY2 make it from a dead battery to 47 percent in half an hour.
There's a single bottom-firing loudspeaker to the right of the USB-C charging port. It's got plenty of volume and produces a sound that's loud and clear. Like many other smartphones, bass and lower tones are barely existent.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
The sound is clean all the way into the maximum volumes with no distortion. This is a clear and loud speaker. If you hold the phone in landscape, be sure to hold it with the keyboard to the right. If you hold it with the keyboard left, chances are high that you'll block the loudspeaker with your palm.
The BlackBerry KEY2 did well when working with an active external amplifier. The clarity of its output was as great as we've come to expect from smartphones these days, while the loudness levels were just above average.
Headphones dropped the volume to below average and caused more than the usual stereo crosstalk. Plus they added a tiny bit of intermodulation distortion, so it's a pretty mediocre performance in this second part of the test.
|Test||Frequency response||Noise level||Dynamic range||THD||IMD + Noise||Stereo crosstalk|
You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.