Timing doesn’t seem to be BlackBerry’s forte—just a couple of months ago, it announced the shutdown of its internal hardware development. There has been some misunderstanding and confusion since, and many have perceived it as a sign that BlackBerry is exiting the smartphone business completely. And now, the company has released its latest Android flagship phone.
The DTEK60 is essentially born out of the modifications done to a reference design smartphone by technology company TCL for BlackBerry. And what you have, for starters, is a design that is completely at home in a premium Android phone. The glass at the front and the back goes well with the metal frame, giving it a premium look. You will also notice the design treatment given to the speaker grilles at the top and bottom, both at the front and back—it is a very subtle design element, but it tends to accumulate dust over time. The DTEK60 tips the scales at 165g, but somehow feels lighter to hold and use.
The DTEK60 runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor, with 4 GB RAM. The overall performance is at par with the line-up of flagship phones such as the Sony Xperia XZ and LG G5, for example. The phone currently runs Android Marshmallow (no word yet on the Nougat update), but this isn’t your standard Android smartphone. True to BlackBerry’s focus on security, this is what the DTEK60 also gets—reduced permissions for background services, security patches rolled out on priority, disk encryption and app monitoring, all to make your data secure against intrusion or malicious software. There are no unnecessary third-party apps preloaded, which is a refreshing change compared to most other Android phones. The 3,000mAh battery lasts a day with ease, when the phone is used heavily.
The 5.5-inch AMOLED display (2,560x1,440 resolution) does almost everything perfectly. The text is crisp, colours look accurate without popping out and the brightness levels are good.
For once, there is a BlackBerry phone which has a good camera. The 21-megapixel snapper on the DTEK60 returns some rather pleasing-to-the-eye photos, which have good detailing and colour distinction. Low-light photos are also better than expected, though the Galaxy S7 would probably still be a better bet for night-time photography.
BlackBerry outsourcing its hardware but may not actually be such a bad thing, because the DTEK60 ticks all the boxes on the specs, performance and user-experience checklist. After a long time, we have a BlackBerry phone which can be recommended to individuals, and not just business users. Even more so because BlackBerry’s tweaks make Android better.