BlackBerry DTEK50, DTEK60 : Neither here, nor there


    The two new BlackBerry phones run on Android and claim to be more secure than others, but there’s little that really grabs your attention.

    In the present world of smart phone ruled technological innovation, much of the gadgets that become commercially successful flaunt an element or two that really grabs your attention upon first sight. Take for instance the dual-edge Samsung flagships, two cameras on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus, modular attachments with the Moto Z, and so on. BlackBerry, though, seems to be working on a different note. 

    Recently, the company announced that it will not be “making” its own phones any longer. True to the declaration, the new Android phones, from the company that once ruled the world have been manufactured by TCL. Many purists and veterans may not regard these as “true” BlackBerry phones, and that is not entirely based on face value. The DTEK50 and DTEK60, BlackBerry’s new Android devices, do not radiate a sense of swagger and pride the way they once used to. It is mostly this that keeps circulating in your mind, when you try to analyse how the two BB smartphones truly are. 

    BlackBerry’s entire focus is on software – they want to bring in the versatility of Android along with the security of communication that every BB device was once known to include. And while on paper they really seem to have cracked the code, the devices are far from alluring otherwise. In terms of the make and design, the new phones are built reasonably well, but do not give the air of truly well-built, sturdy gadgets. 

    Both the phones are quite light and slim, which in turn aid ergonomics. The DTEK50, in particular, flaunts a 5.2-inch display, with narrow borders and a slim profile coupled to a textured rubber back. This design makes the phone feel good in hand, and I even found one-handed typing to be quite smooth. The BlackBerry DTEK50 is the less expensive of the two smartphones  launched. Along with the aforementioned display, it is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 SoC, 3GB RAM, 16GB internal storage (expandable up to 200GB), a 2610mAh battery, 13MP primary camera, 8MP front camera with front-facing flash, and Android Marshmallow. 

    Apart from the acceptable build quality and good ergonomics, the DTEK50 does not feel the most fluid in terms of performance. In the short time that I spent with it, the device seemed to take split seconds too long in opening applications, and the touch response was also not as fluid as we are used to these days. The BlackBerry DTEK60 is a flagship smartphone, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4GB RAM, 32GB native storage expandable by up to 200GB, 3000mAh battery, 21MP primary camera, 8MP front camera and Android Marshmallow.

     On paper, it is at par with most other flagship devices out there. We did not get a chance to run benchmarks, but upon initial inspection, the DTEK60 seemed fast enough. Standard operations seem fluid, and everything from Google Maps to Facebook and Camera opened swiftly. BlackBerry has also included Quick Charge 3.0, and the front has a 5.5-inch AMOLED display with screen resolution of 1440×2560 pixels.

     The DTEK security suite makes use of Android Marshmallow’s enhanced security features, and collects all the security features of the two phones under one roof. You get encrypted storage, screen lock, app permission toggles and more, most of which are standard on any Android Marshmallow device. The enhancements are in how BlackBerry aims to restrict background feature access by certain apps to enhance your security and privacy. For instance, if an app installed by you happens to request for an unnecessary permission, you can disable it, and even black flag it.

     Flagging this will switch on notifications, from where you can monitor when and where did the apps access the settings. This, essentially, is the most practical security enhancement that the two phones include. To sum it all up, BlackBerry may find it a bit difficult to sell its phones based practically on just one security enhancement. It may still find takers who are paranoid, but that percentage is possibly lower than takers for dual-camera setups and modular designs. 

    The phones are priced reasonably well, given BlackBerry’s pricing trends, which makes it more plausible for brand-conscious buyers to opt for either of these. The BlackBerry DTEK50 goes on sale from from  December. It remains to be seen how they fare .