The BlackBerry KEY2 was perceived to be a poor value for those who didn’t take power lunches and texted with physical keyboards — the cameras were a step back from the KEYone and spec heads weren’t liking any bit of the Snapdragon 660 for the $649 they had to shell out.

So, what’s new with the KEY2 LE? More colors, more downgrades, but less of a cash suck. It’s compromise that’s meant to draw a larger tent.

The TCL-manufactured device retains its physical keyboard at the bottom and that all-new Speed Key, allowing users to switch directly into apps by tapping it and a second key. Non-Speed Key keyboard shortcuts remain here as well as the Convenience Key to the side. And there’s a fingerprint sensor embedded into the space bar, just like on other KEY-brand phones.

Since the transition from BlackBerry as an OEM to TCL as an ODM, specs were never front of mind for phones, but corners were cut further here: the Snapdragon 636 replaces the 660 — it still uses Qualcomm’s new Kryo cores, but they’re clocked down quite a bit. There’s 4GB of RAM standard to the KEY2’s 6GB and a choice of either 32GB or 64GB of storage. The battery’s shrunk from 3,500mAh to 3,000mAh and the Type-C port at bottom will only deliver USB 2.0 spec data transfer speeds.

So, will it provide the right experience at the right price? The KEY2 LE, available in blue, red or gold, will be available from next month for $399 or $449, depending on the storage option. The US and UK will get first dibs while other European, North American and Middle Eastern markets will follow suit.

We’ll have to look for answers ourselves at Pocketnow. Editorial content is on the way.

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