Do we have a good one for you today – the OnePlus 6 takes on the BlackBerry KEY2. Here we have two smartphones that look to appeal to difference audiences. Just like the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has its S Pen, the BlackBerry KEY2 has its physical keyboard and built-in security. The build on both devices is excellent – the OnePlus 6 is all glass and the KEY2 has a metal back – and both have a premium look, with the BlackBerry KEY2 very much a business-like device. If you are looking for the larger display and premium processor, the OnePlus 6 would be your pick, but if you want a physical keyboard and the best security you will find in a smartphone, then the KEY2 is the answer. Let us look at what these two devices have in common.
In reality, the OnePlus 6 and the BlackBerry KEY2 do not have much in common. The OnePlus 6 is more of a mainstream device while the BlackBerry KEY2 is geared more towards a business user who is concerned about security, and not necessarily the largest display. As their displays are different sizes, use a different technology, a different aspect ratio, and a different Gorilla Glass version for protection. Both smartphones do use a Snapdragon processor and an Adreno GPU, but not the same model. They do share 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, although the storage is only expandable in the KEY2. They both share a dual camera setup, but use different size lenses, and the same can be said for their front-facing camera (FFC). The batteries are close in size, with both being non-removable, and both offering support for fast charging, while neither support wireless charging. Even though their display sizes are different, the two phones are very close in overall physical size due to the KEY2’s physical keyboard. They both have the usual suspects, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v5.0, NFC, and a USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer. They both contain a 3.5mm headphone jack, a fingerprint sensor, and come running on Android 8.1 (Oreo). Both devices are sold unlocked.
Please take a careful look at the detailed specifications comparison chart below and here you will see just how these two high-end Android smartphones stack up against each other. Which one is the better purchase by offering the most technology for the least amount of money? Are you looking for a powerful phone or one with more security? These are the type of questions we will attempt to answer.
OnePlus designs and executes well-built and reasonably-priced smartphones. This is something the company has always delivered and the OnePlus 6 is no exception. It does contain a notch and uses AMOLED technology. While OnePlus might never go beyond an FHD+ display, the company does always pack in a bunch of RAM. There are no fancy doodads, such as a heart rate monitor or SpO2 sensor (like you will find on a Samsung Galaxy 9), but you will have a terrific bargain on you hand. You will find a great dual camera and FFC on the OnePlus 6 and to make it more user-friendly you can use the Alert Slider to zoom in/out when taking a photo. Its harshest critics will complain about the notched display and the lack of expandable storage.
The OnePlus 6 sports a 6.28-inch Optic AMOLED display with a Full HD+ resolution and a notch. It has a resolution of 2280 x 1080 pixels, which gives it 402 pixels-per-inch (PPI). OnePlus is trying to save battery life with the FHD+ display, claiming our eyes do not need a QHD+ display. The new aspect ratio is not lost on the OnePlus 6, coming in at 19:9, adding to the phone’s overall modern look. The taller and narrower display is perfectly-suited for watching movies and videos, but also makes multitasking easier. As with other Android smartphones that use a notch, you can falsely hide the notch by making it look like there is a small bezel across the top, but it's still there. Gorilla Glass 5 protects the display.
The Snapdragon 845 combined with the Adreno 630 is the latest processing combo from Qualcomm and that is just what the OnePlus 6 is packing. It is an octa-core processor clocked at 2.8 GHz and is accompanied by 6GB to 8GB of RAM, along with a base of 64GB of non-expandable storage. You can also purchase a 128GB or 256GB model that comes strictly with 8GB of RAM. What is nice is that each additional storage upgrade only adds $50 to the price of the phone. A 3,300 mAh capacity battery powers the OnePlus 6 and OnePlus’ own Dash Charge (Quick Charge 3.0) technology is available for quick charging. Even with the design change to an all-glass backing, OnePlus still does not offer wireless charging.
The OnePlus 6 uses a dual camera setup with the primary camera using a 20-megapixel sensor, an aperture of f/1.7, as well as EIS and OIS to enhance stabilization. The other camera is a large 16-megapixel affair with the same f/1.7 aperture. PDAF and dual LED flash work for both cameras. The FFC is a large 16-megapixel sensor that uses EIS for stabilization and Auto HDR – this should provide some great selfies and improve video chatting. OnePlus has upgraded its camera software and now you can use the Alert Slider to zoom in or out on your subject.
Besides being a beautiful-looking and well-built device, the OnePlus 6’s top features are 6GB of RAM, a good rear camera experience, and an excellent FFC for a reasonable price. The downsides of the OnePlus 6 are the notch in the display, the lack of a QHD+ display, and lack of an option to expand the storage. The company's user interface, OxygenOS, adds a light touch over Android Oreo 8.1 and does not slow down its operation. The device measures 155.7 x 75.4 x 7.8 mm and weighs in at 177 grams. It comes in Midnight Black, Mirror Black, or Silk White. It will cost you $529 for the 6GB/64GB version, $579 for the 8GB/128GB version, and $629 for the 8GB/256GB version – a bargain for any of the configurations.
BlackBerry Mobile smartphones are now designed and built by TCL Corporation, and while other flagship manufacturers are enlarging displays and reducing their bezel size, TCL is delivering the BlackBerry KEY2 as a device that stands out from the crowd. The KEY2, while totally retro-looking, is one of the best-built devices on the market. The metal design is beautifully sculptured around a 4.5-inch display and a physical keyboard that is 20-percent larger than the one included with the KEYOne. TCL has thoughtfully added rubberized backing that makes gripping the device a breeze. This is one good-looking device, even though it is vastly different from what we are used to.
The front of the KEY2 looks all business with its display on top and the physical keyboard below. The KEY2 sports a 4.5-inch IPS LCD FHD+ display with a resolution of 1620 x 1080 pixels, and 434 PPI. Like the OnePlus 6, the KEY2 is saving on battery life through the inclusion of an FHD+ display. The KEY2 does have an unusual aspect ratio of 3:2, which makes it great for browsing the web or running office-type apps, but not so good for watching videos/movies or playing games. There are also larger bezels on the top/bottom and both sides compared to the current smartphones which typically provide a larger display. TCL decided to use only Gorilla Glass 3 to protect the display.
Some may scoff at the BlackBerry KEY2 because it only has a Snapdragon 660 processor clocked at 2.2 GHz with an Adreno 512 GPU, but our review has shown that the KEY2 is more than capable when it comes to powering apps, including games. It does pack 6GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage, although there is also a 128GB model. It is powered by a 3,500 mAh capacity non-removable battery that uses Quick Charge 3.0 for a fast charge – if you need an even faster charge you can make use of the Boost Mode feature which turns off various services in order to allow the phone to charge more quicker. The average user should get two days of productivity before a charge is required.
The BlackBerry KEY2, like most flagships in 2018, uses a dual camera setup. The main camera uses a 12-megapixel sensor with dual pixels. It packs a dual PDAF for quick focusing and an aperture of f/1.8. The secondary camera is also a 12-megapixel sensor with PDAF, an aperture of f/2.6, and 2x Optical Zoom. The FFC comes in at 8-megapixel with an f/2.0 aperture and should be great for selfies and video chatting. The design of the camera and its software is powerful, yet easy to use. Private capture allows you to take a picture and have it placed immediately into your Private Locker – a special folder that adds an additional layer of security.
The BlackBerry KEY2 will satisfy most users if they don't mind a smaller display and a physical keyboard, but it is definitely geared toward the business user or those who need a heightened level of security. It has an overall Fort Knox level of security, but also an excellent DTEK security and Privacy Shade for hiding files in folders that need authorization to access. It does use a lower SD660 processor with 6GB of RAM, and a dual camera setup. There is no notch on this small (by today’s standards) display, but you will find the option to expand the storage when needed. You do also get Google Pay and BlackBerry’s UI over Android 8.1 Oreo, with BlackBerry expected to update the KEY2 to Android 9 Pie in due course. The KEY2 has many great ways to use shortcuts throughout the phone – for instance, you can run your fingers over the keyboard to scroll up and down and the fingerprint sensor is smartly located on the space key. The device measures 151.4 x 71.8 x 8.5 mm and weighs in at 168 grams. The KEY2 comes in Black or Silver with a black rubberized backing and costs about $650 for the 64GB version.
…And The Winner Is…
The Final Word
This is tough decision because both devices are terrific, but the OnePlus 6 is just more of what we expect in a newer device – large display, virtual keyboard, game/video oriented, fastest processor, the best GPU – and all while being offered up at a reasonable price. No, it doesn’t have a QHD+ resolution display or expandable storage, but it has the best processor, larger and better cameras, and lots of RAM. These are features that the average user wants in their smartphone.
Customers that purchase a BlackBerry device are not your average user as they tend to be most concerned about the physical keyboard and higher levels of security. The KEY2 offers both of those features in a great package for about $120 more than the OnePlus 6.
With both of these devices offering plenty of features, it is up to the user which features are more important to them, because they are both great devices. If you want a physical keyboard then the KEY2 would be a wise choice – and one you would not regret. If you prefer the larger display and virtual keyboard, then the OnePlus 6 is a no brainer. For this comparison, we think most users are in the latter category and therefore we have picked the OnePlus 6 as the winner.