SEOUL: BlackBerry Mobile launched the KEY2 smartphone in South Korea on Friday, with an emphasis on its popular physical QWERTY keyboard and security-related features to attract consumers seeking something unique in a market dominated by samsung Electronics and Apple Inc.
It marks the second BlackBerry smartphone released in South Korea after the brand was purchased by China-based TCL Communication Technology in 2016. The company released the BlackBerry KEYOne Black Edition here last year.
The BlackBerry KEY2 comes with a 4.5-inch bezel-less display with a physical QWERTY keyboard, which is the key feature of the company’s smartphones. Printed with the Korean alphabet, the size of the keyboard is roughly 20 percent larger than its predecessor.
Other major features include a 12-megapixel dual-lens main camera and a 3,500 mAh battery, which BlackBerry claims to last for around two days. The front camera comes with a 8-megapixel image sensor.
The new smartphone is also capable of holding two SIM cards, allowing customers to use two different numbers at the same time.
The company also said the BlackBerry KEY2 is the most advanced device of its kind, which features both distinct features of BlackBerry smartphones, along with a state-of-the-art security system, including DTEK and Locker applications.
General Manager Alain Lejeune told Yonhap News Agency the performance of the BlackBerry KEYOne Black Edition was actually better than expected, without providing detailed figures.
“It was very satisfactory. I can say it was better than our plan,” Lejeune said. “Definitely, we saw much better feedback from consumers. We hope the KEY2 will be good as well.” “Thanks to that strong reception of the KEYOne, we have decided to bring the KEY2 this time to Korea as part of the most important market for BlackBerry,” Lejeune also said during the press meeting, hinting that the device is being released here at the same time as other major countries, including the United States, Britain and Germany.
Lejeune said the company also sought to maintain key characteristics of BlackBerry devices in order to stand out from other similar smartphones in the market around the globe.
“We think at BlackBerry Mobile, the market today is in uniformity, and most of the phones today all look alike,” Lejeune said. “We want to offer consumers with a very strong and different option.” “Korea is a very sophisticated and demanding market,” Lejeune added, claiming such aspects make South Korea one of BlackBerry’s key markets.
Considering the latest trend in the industry, such as foldable displays, BlackBerry said it wishes to keep track of the new trends but also at the same time maintain the core values of its smartphones to keep consumers satisfied.
“We want to innovate in a meaningful way for consumers,” Lejeune added.
Lejeune also claimed that users are becoming more aware of privacy, as reflected in the latest plunge of the share price of Facebook in the U.S. stock market amid the privacy controversy.
“That’s a sign that consumers really want privacy,” Lejeune. “I think security and privacy have never been so realized as today.” The company said it has sought to make various efforts to especially localize BlackBerry products in South Korea, including the Korean-alphabet keyboard and the dual-SIM system.
The 64GB edition of the BlackBerry comes with a price tag of 349,000 won (US$311), with that of the 128GB edition standing at 393,000 won, when purchased with a two-year package from CJ Hello, a local mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).