Seven reasons the BlackBerry KEY2 is good for business

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The 10 best smartphones of 2018

CES and MWC are over and it’s time to clear the dust and see what smartphones are leading the pack this year.

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The BlackBerry KEY2 is one of the last remaining phones with a hardware QWERTY keyboard, but that’s not the only reason it is worth considering for the business user.

Like the BlackBerry KEYone, the KEY2 is powered by Google’s Android operating system. There are plenty of options available in the Android world, but there continue to be a few unique aspects of the KEY2. In addition, some standard features of Android make it compelling for the enterprise user as well.

Here are seven reasons that make the BlackBerry KEY2 good for business:

  1. QWERTY keyboard: After a few years of on-screen keyboards, it definitely takes some practice to use a hardware QWERTY keyboard again. That said, it is an excellent keyboard with good spacing and tactile feedback, shortcuts galore, touch sensitivity that make it wonderful for scrolling without touching the display, and intelligent prediction where you can spend half your time just swiping up to accept the next words presented to you. You can also double tap to activate the cursor in a text field, customize the currency key, and jump around the Hub with a key press.
  2. Security: The DTEK app is designed to raise your awareness of security on your phone so while it may not make your phone more secure automatically, it clearly presents you with different options for security. The KEY2 runs Android 8.1 Oreo and BlackBerry has shown to provide quick monthly Android security updates. The KEY2 runs a version of Android that is mostly stock so updates can be rolled out quicker than phones with custom UIs.
  3. Private Locker: The KEY2 has a secure area called the Private Locker where a secure file explorer, secure photo gallery, and Firefox Focus reside with the option to add other apps. The Firefox Focus browser auto-deletes your browser history upon exiting.
  4. Long battery life: Some recent devices, the Samsung Galaxy S9, the HTC U12 Plus, and LG G7 ThinQ, have disappointed me in regards to battery life and I’ve rarely been able to go a full day with those devices. The large capacity battery and mid-level processor help you go more than a full, busy day with the KEY2 and for business you need a phone that lasts.
  5. BlackBerry Hub: While there are plenty of email and social media apps avaialable, the centralized communications platform provided by BlackBerry Hub means you can spend most of your time in one area of the device. The Hub takes a bit of time adopting, but it can improve your efficiency with practice.
  6. Convenience key: While you can have up to 52 shortcuts via the keyboard and Speed Key, you can also setup the right side Convenience key to launch one app or a quick shortcut pop-up for up to three apps or utilities. This is one other way the BlackBerry KEY2 focuses on efficiency.
  7. Privacy Shade and Redactor: I often see business users with privacy screens on their phones and the BlackBerry KEY2 offers a different approach with a shade that only provides visibility to a few rows of the display at once. You can resize the shade and move it up and down the display with most of your display in hidden mode. There is also a Redactor tool that lets you quickly remove sensitive information from screenshots that you want to share. The Redactor tool provides a more professional look than when you try to use a photo editor and scribble out information.

The BlackBerry KEY2 will be available starting next week for $650.

One month with the LG G7: As competition stumbles, the G7 rises to the occasion

Image: LG

top picks

The 10 best smartphones of 2018

CES and MWC are over and it’s time to clear the dust and see what smartphones are leading the pack this year.

Read More

Just over a month ago I posted my full review of the LG G7 ThinQ and while it earned a respectable rating there were other phones that looked like better choices. However, all is not as it seems and a few of those other phones did not live up to their potential and the LG G7 is one I keep returning to with my T-Mobile SIM.

In addition to the LG G7 ThinQ, we have seen the release of the HTC U12 Plus, Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, and OnePlus 6 over the past couple of months. The following are reasons I keep putting these devices aside and choosing to go back to the LG G7:

  • HTC U12 Plus: The haptic buttons, touchiness of Edge Sense 2.0, and below average battery life are disappointing with the haptic buttons causing near constant frustration. I cannot recommend the HTC U12 Plus to anyone at this time.
  • Huawei P20 Pro: Excellent phone with wonderful still image capture performance and very long battery life. It’s not available in the US and has an old-school front facing fingerprint scanner with average video performance. It is easy to see why the Huawei P20 Pro is selling well outside the US and is still my current pick for the 10 best smartphones of 2018 so far.
  • Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: Overall, the S9 Plus has every single thing you could ask for in a smartphone, but the battery life is just average and there is still a bit too much added by Samsung. The price is also rather high when compared to other Androids.
  • OnePlus 6: This is a rather rather stunning smartphone priced at a reasonable level. It doesn’t have a dust or water resistant rating, has no wireless charging or microSD, and its dual cameras don’t offer much. However, it’s the phone I would pick after the LG G7 out of this list of new Android smartphones.

Like the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, the LG G7 offers everything you could want with the newest Snapdragon processor, microSD expansion card, high level of water and dust resistance, MIL-STD 810G drop protection, wireless charging, dual rear cameras with wide-angle lens, reasonable $750 price, US wireless carrier support, attractive color options, and great audio performance. It is also designed well with a width that makes it fit comfortably in one hand with a weight that is lower than most other phones.

The LG G7 also has a dedicated Google Assistant hardware button with Google Lens integrated into the camera app. There was also some news that the Korean version of the LG G7 would be getting the Google Pixel-exclusive AR stickers with Star Wars and Stranger Things characters. Hopefully we see these come to the US model as well.

LG doesn’t get much respect in the mobile space and it hasn’t always done well with phone launches, but the LG G7 is a satisfying smartphone that continues to impress.

BlackBerry KEY2 vs KEYone: Can you justify the $100 upgrade?

top picks

The 10 best smartphones of 2018

CES and MWC are over and it’s time to clear the dust and see what smartphones are leading the pack this year.

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The BlackBerry KEY2 offers several improvements over last year’s KEYone and is a solid phone for enterprise users.

While the new KEY2 has an improved keyboard, it also launches at $650. This is $100 more than the KEYone from 2017 and there have been questions from readers about whether this $100 is justified. Taking a closer look at the tale of the tape and comparing specs of these two hardware QWERTY devices, we see the following:

The specs show that the KEY2 has a newer processor, two rear cameras, much more RAM and storage, and is 12 grams lighter than the KEYone. Beyond just the specs, check out seven reasons that the KEY2 is good for business.

The significantly improved amount of RAM, combined with the newer Snapdragon processor, mean the BlackBerry KEY2 is no slouch and can handle anything you throw at it. The dual camera, refined keyboard, and overall improved design also add to the KEY2 and given today’s $900 to $1,000 flagships I think the $649 price is reasonable for this business-focused phone.

Kasmer Fitness tracker: Lots of promise, but fails to deliver

The Kasmer fitness tracker is a looker: Not too clunky, a slightly curved screen, and a well-built bracelet strap. It looks like any generic fitness tracker on the market. It has a full-colour screen and looks nice on my wrist. But it does not have the functionality I want.

It seems to have an identity problem — perhaps because it is white labelled and sold through several different vendors. On Amazon, and on the back of the box, the product is called Kasmer, but the App Store app is called IXFit, and the Bluetooth pairing shows I7Plus. For simplicity, I am going to refer to this as the Kasmer.

Read also: Best Fitness Trackers for 2018 (CNET)

Unlike the Mgcool band 3 or Star 9 fitness band, it has a colour screen and a metal touch-activated band. The tracker is not too big for small wrists, and the strap is comfortable. The screen, whilst not as bright as other trackers, is readable on dull days and when inside.

There are several screens that show the home screen with time, date, battery, Bluetooth status, and a step counter (long pressing will record workout time, heartbeat, distance, and calories). One screen shows distance travelled and incline, another screen shows heart beat, either instantaneous, or measured over time, and yet another screen to show blood pressure. Plus, a screen that looks like an animated Microsoft Windows logo gets you into the configuration screen.

The Kasmer tracker is IP67 rated, so there is not an issue if you get sweaty or take a shower wearing the tracker.

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The device charges by removing one of the straps to expose the male USB connection. You insert the USB connector into a DC charger to charge the device, which is supposed to take three hours. This connection is really loose and wobbles in the USB port.

If you do not know which side of your USB female port has the metal contact, it is easy to plug the tracker in upside down. Even when the tracker is inserted correctly, it took over five hours to charge. The app also does not show an accurate level of charge, jumping from 5 percent to 20 percent in increments up to 100 percent. It is difficult to see when the tracker is fully charged.

Read also: The 11 best wearables for business (TechRepublic)

The app looks good, with screens showing steps taken, heart rate, sleep, and a configuration screen to set your profile, add a call, and social media push messages. It also has a smart alarm clock that will beep to wake you up, and there is a remote camera function. It is well written, and the English language is good. So far, all seems really useful for me.

The device is easy to pair with Bluetooth, and when connected to the app, sets the time and date to match your mobile device. You can configure your height and weight and your validated blood pressure to create a baseline.

I have several issues with this tracker. If I record my heart rate from the tracker, it does not sync to the app. Only heart rate monitoring initiated from the app is stored as a historical record.

Blood pressure is not synchronised from either the app to the tracker or from the tracker to the app. I felt that the app heart rate record was lacking in functionality, and the step tracker was unrealistic. It recorded my steps as 16,995 with distance 7.31 miles when all I had done was some gardening and a 1.5 mile dog walk that day.

My other step tracker usually calculates a step count of 6,500 steps for a similar day. The heart-rate history was useless, as I measured heart rate from the tracker — not the app.

The sleep function seemed to be fairly accurate, showing that my deep sleep times are dreadful. I’m a light sleeper, easily disturbed. It also showed accurately my waking times.

Read also: Why Fitbit could make a good Google acquisition

Although I configured message push notification across all social platforms, I had no notifications — even though these were all enabled on my Android phone.

I had high hopes for the Kasmer. It is a nice-looking fitness device, and with some more investment in the app and sync functionality, I think it has potential.

If you use the code: 288VY57F you can get a 35-percent discount through Amazon, but I think I will wait until the app improves its features and gives me a historical record of heart rate, blood pressure, and an accurate record of my steps.

Previous and related coverage:

Star 9 fitness activity health tracker hands on: a basic heart rate monitor and workout tracker

The Star 9 fitness band has all the basic functions to record your health activities, but it is not engaging — nor very accurate.

Fitbit Versa review: Finally, a smartwatch that can make Fitbit proud

Outside of the Apple Watch for iOS users, the Fitbit Versa is the smartwatch to beat right now. It’s comfortable, stylish, and has excellent battery life.

Fitbit Ionic: Excellent activity tracker, but it’s not a very smart watch

Fitbit’s latest GPS sport watch may be the most capable Fitbit ever, but a month of testing reveals some areas for improvement. Matt Miller offers tips for new and prospective Ionic owners.

Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro, First Take: Tougher and more waterproof

The Gear Fit 2 Pro is an impressive wearable device, but it’s hardly a major departure from the previous, more affordable, model.