BlackBerry DTEK60 hands-on review

WE LOVED the BlackBerry DTEK50, and the newly self-styled software-first firm has just announced a follow-up to the popular device, the aptly-named BlackBerry DTEK60.

If we’re to believe anything BlackBerry tell us these days the DTEK60 is the “world’s most secure” Android smartphone – we wonder how the DTEK50 feels about that.

BlackBerry DTEK60 hands-on review - build

While the previous model suffered thanks to the double whammy of cheap pricing and low specs, the BlackBerry DTEK60 at least looks to right those ills.

Ahead of our review proper, here’s our first impressions of BlackBerry’s latest Android-shaped assault.

It’s a badly-kept secret that the BlackBerry DTEK60 is based on the Alcatel-built TCL 950, with BlackBerry announcing earlier last month that it’s no longer building its own hardware and instead letting someone else do the heavy lifting

Both of the DTEK models released this year at least maintain some form of uniformity, and it’s certainly not a bad design either.

The BlackBerry DTEK60 sports a premium glass and aluminium frame (where the previous model perhaps relied on plastic just a little too much), in a mash of black, silver and grey. The darker aluminium bezels contrast nicely with the glass rear where a single, lone reminder of the BlackBerry brand lives.

BlackBerry DTEK60 hands-on review - software

After carting around Google’s supersized Pixel XL for the past few weeks, the mere 3g weight difference isn’t at all noticeable. The BlackBerry DTEK60 rocks a similarly-sized 5.5in display which would cause us to label it as lumbering and imposing if it wasn’t for its thinness.

At just 6.9mm thick, it surpasses the DTEK50 as BlackBerry’s “thinnest smartphone ever” (why don’t you plough another stake through its heart, eh BlackBerry?), yet in hand it feels a little awkward. This is especially true when reaching for the minuscule fingerprint reader found on the rear. It really is the dinkiest, and looks all the more silly when there’s a honking great camera protrusion above. That thing sticks out a ton, but that’s the price we’re paying for this new 21MP sensor.

BlackBerry DTEK60 hands-on review - camera

The power button has been relegated to the left of the device, while the programmable ‘Convenience Button’ is still a thing, and lives below the volume controls on the right.

Thankfully, the dual front and rear speakers make a welcome return, and we’re pleased that BlackBerry is obviously paying attention to this often overlooked aspect. Audio output is again controlled by JBL’s Waves MaxxAudio – we’d recommend turning off the ‘Auto select’ mode, and tweaking the settings in order to get the best results.

Gone is the under-powered engine-room of the DTEK50, and in comes the darling of 2016 – Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820. This is a quad-core model with cores running at 2.15GHz and 1.6GHz. It’s backed with 4GB of RAM.

The reference TCL model that the DTEK60 was built on scrimped on the display front with an unspectacular FHD resolution, but fortunately the BlackBerry uses an upgraded 2560×1440 QHD panel.

The 5.5in AMOLED display is pleasantly bright, and plenty sharp at 534ppi, which BlackBerry felt compelled to boast is 4x the number of pixels seen on a standard HDTV. We must also heap praise on the curved glass layer that covers the display, with this slight tapering helping to set it apart from the hordes of plain Androids otherwise clamouring for our custom.

BlackBerry DTEK60 hands-on review - design

It’s supposed to be “scratch and smudge resistant” too, but even with limited use our fingerprints were beginning to leave their mark. To us, that makes it no better than the competition it hopes to beat.

The rear-mounted 21MP camera is built around a Sony IMX230 sensor, the f/2.0 aperture is perfunctory, but Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF) and dual-tone LED flash are both nice additions. It impresses in its speed too – the time it took to switch into shooting mode and fire that shutter was almost instantaneous.

There’s more than enough features to satisfy the casual photographer, including built-in filters, and a useful HDR mode. In addition, a manual mode offers white balance, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, and exposure compensation for greater control.

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