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BlackBerry DTEK50 first impressions: perceptible shift in the tide

|November 8, 2016 |Android Phones, Blackberry, First impressions

"Times are a changing and the BlackBerry DTEK50 proves it"

After launching its first Android-based smartphone Priv — which was wacky and totally out of the ordinary to say the least — BlackBerry has decided to go plain jane with its second Android phone DTEK50. The Canadian tech major launched the DTEK50 in India yesterday for a price of Rs 21,990, which puts it squarely in competition with the likes of the Xiaomi Mi 5 (review), LeEco Le Max 2 (review), and the ASUS Zenfone 3 (review). We got some time with the DTEK50 at the event and what follows are our first impressions of the phone.

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The BlackBerry DTEK50 is essentially a rebranded Alcatel Idol 4, at least from the exterior. The one thing that distinguishes it from the Idol 4 is the rear, which has the trademark BlackBerry logo and a nice textured finish that aids in gripping the phone. The phone itself feels pretty light and the weight distribution is good too. One of the things we noticed is that the power button is placed on the top of the left edge… an awkward placement for right-handed people to use easily. However, the addition of a dedicated convenience key that can be programmed to do a specific task of your wish is unique; you can assign functions like opening the camera using the key or any other task of your choice. We will test this in detail in the full review. The lack of a dedicated fingerprint scanner is a missed opportunity, though. All in all, the design of the phone is practical and doesn’t try anything fancy.

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The phone comes packing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 SoC with 3GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage space. There is a dedicated microSD card slot that can be used to increase the storage space up to 2TB if you so wish. The phone accepts only a single SIM card but it supports VoLTE. At least in our limited time with the phone the it ran smoothly but we shall reserve our final judgement for the full review.

Now, the USP of the DTEK50 is the additions that BlackBerry makes to vanilla Android. Apart from the fact that the phone runs Android Marshmallow 6.0.1, you get some cool software additions. For example, certain apps with three icons indicate that one swipe upwards will open up a widgets panel ensuring that you don’t need to add them separately to the screen. Unfortunately, we found the whole animation to be very iffy. Similarly, there is a separate productivity panel that sticks to the edge of the screen and pulling it up shows stuff like favourite contacts, your scheduled meetings, et al. There is also a namesake DTEK app which provides the user with granular control over security features. You can see which apps are using what services and to what extent even. For example, in the demo phone we noticed that a third-party flashlight app actually used the microphone. If you are a security nut, you will definitely appreciate the DTEK app.

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We didn’t get time to test the 13MP rear camera or the 8MP front one. Keep watching this space for more on that front and more. Until then, these are our short and crisp first impression of the DTEK50, the phone that ushers the birth of a new BlackBerry - one that is trying to keep up with the times instead of being a rebel.



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