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Best smartphone 2018: Finest Android and Apple phones you can buy in the UK


All of us covet these little rectangles in our pockets. Smartphones play an enormous half in our day-to-day lives, however shopping for the proper smartphone will be an arduous process. However do not fret – we’re right here that will help you purchase the very best smartphone for you. Listed here are the very best smartphones you’ll be able to choose up in 2018.

We have painstakingly put each smartphone to the take a look at, with the very best protection within the UK, so we might help you make a shopping for choice. Our greatest smartphone 2018 roundup is all the time saved updated, so you should definitely test again usually as and when new telephones hit the outlets.

READ NEXT: Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Bursting at the seams with features

There’s additionally a useful smartphone shopping for information on the second page of this article, the place you’ll discover all the small print it’s worthwhile to know when shopping for your excellent smartphone. Be it show high quality, battery life and efficiency, we cowl all of the fundamentals.

The very best smartphones to purchase in 2018

1. OnePlus 6T: The very best smartphone of 2018

Value: £499 | Buy now from Carphone Warehouse

But once more, the OnePlus 6T is the definitive flagship killer. Launching only a few months after its 6-branded counterpart, the 6T affords up a handful of much-needed, if refined, enhancements over its predecessor.

In maintaining virtually the identical price as final 12 months’s (it is solely £30 dearer), the agency has managed to plonk a 6.41in edge-to-edge AMOLED display screen on the entrance, full with a tiny drop notch on the highest. As earlier than, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 processor is operating issues from the within and we have seen some enhancements to its dual-camera setup on the rear – notably on the subject of low-light pictures.

It is nonetheless a cut price, regardless of the slight value leap and OnePlus has created one of the crucial well-rounded units in the marketplace in 2018. It is as quick as flagships that’ll price you a superb £300 extra, and its swish new look is great. Get the OnePlus 6T in the event you’re a little bit cautious of forking over piles of money for the most recent and best. It is going to serve you effectively for the years to return.

Learn our full OnePlus 6T review for extra particulars

Key specs – Processor: 2.8GHz Snapdragon 845; Display: 6.41in, 2,340 x 1,080; Digicam: 16-megapixel, 20-megapixel; Storage: 128/256GB; Working system: Android 9

2. Google Pixel 3: Pixel excellent

Value: £739 | Buy now from Carphone Warehouse

 

Google’s pair of third-generation Pixel telephones are each glorious in their very own proper, however it’s the digicam that basically units these Android smartphones aside from the competitors. The 12.2-megapixel sensor on its rear is superior to the digicam on the iPhone X and final 12 months’s efforts, and it is able to taking some really gorgeous footage in low-light, due to the brand new Night time Sight capturing mode. It would not have an additional lens just like the Observe 9 or OnePlus 6T, however in the event you’re an avid pictures fan, the Pixel Three definitely will not disappoint. The Pixel Three can be as quick as each different Snapdragon 845-equipped handset, and battery life is long-lasting, too.

Learn our full Google Pixel 3 review for extra particulars

Key specs – Processor: 2.8GHz Snapdragon 845; Display: 5.5in, 2,160 x 1,080; Digicam: 12.2-megapixel; Storage: 64/128GB; Working system: Android 9.0

3. Motorola Moto G6: A flagship beater

Value: £219 | Buy now from Amazon

Motorola’s sixth-generation price range handset is a welcome return to type after the frustration of the G5 – and its G5S alternative for that matter. Once more, the Moto G6 is provided with the very best price range cellphone digicam within the enterprise, able to capturing glorious Instagram-worthy photographs for its super-low value.

However that is not all that is thrilling concerning the Moto G6, both. The design is fabulous (with an 18:9 show no much less) and the software program is chock filled with extras, regardless of the appear and feel of inventory Android. The Moto G6 rights the wrongs of its predecessors and is a spectacular smartphone if cash is tight.

Learn our full  Motorola Moto G6 review for extra particulars

Key specs – Processor: 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 450; Display: 5.7in, 2,160 x 1,080; Digicam: 12-megapixel, 5-megapixel; Storage: 32GB; Working system: Android 8.0

4. Huawei Mate 20 Professional: The triple-camera phablet

Value: £899 | Buy now from Carphone Warehouse

By no means thoughts Samsung’s Galaxy Observe 9, there’s one other phablet value contemplating. Yep, that is Huawei’s Mate 20 Professional, a – relatively sudden – contender for the plus-sized smartphone crown.

Full with a stunning, bezel-less 6.39in 2,160 x 1,080 display screen and a surprising design, it is a smartphone that appears nice in your palm. Likewise, Huawei’s beforehand naff smartphone processors – the Kirin sequence of chips – are considerably higher than earlier than, and provides Qualcomm’s efforts a correct run for his or her cash. Pair all that with an distinctive set of triple rear cameras and also you’re smartphone perfection.

Learn our full Huawei Mate 20 Pro assessment for extra particulars

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.6GHz Kirin 980; Display: 6.39in, 3,120 x 1,440; Digicam: 40-megapixel, 20-megapixel and 8-megapixel; Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Working system: Android 9.0

5. Samsung Galaxy Observe 9: Making phablets thrilling once more

Value: £899 l Buy now from Amazon

The Observe 9, relatively unsurprisingly, is a wonderful Android phablet. Outfitted with Samsung’s S Pen stylus for on-the-go note-taking – which has been upgraded with Bluetooth performance – the Observe 9 is the very definition of a plus-sized cellphone for the high-end person, with a suitably-high asking value to match.

That is why the Observe 9 simply misses out on the rostrum. It is the very best Android cellphone we have ever seen – with top-end efficiency, a stunning design and a cracking 6.4in WQHD+ display screen – however its beginning value of £899 is way too excessive for many smartphone-lovers’ wallets. And that is an actual disgrace.

Nonetheless, in the event you’ve acquired virtually 4 figures of money burning a gap in your pocket (fortunate you), there’s merely no different cellphone in the marketplace that matches the Observe 9’s excessive reward.

Learn our full Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review for extra particulars

Key specs – Processor: Samsung Exynos 9810; Display: 6.4in, 2,960 x 1,440; Digicam: Twin 12-megapixel; Storage: 128GB/512GB; Working system: Android 8.1

6. Apple iPhone Xs: Extreme excellence

Value: £999 l Buy now from John Lewis

 

What’s so particular about Apple’s newest flagship? Effectively, apart from its wallet-scaring configuration choices (it is relatively dear), the iPhone Xs represents a bucketload of firsts for Apple: it is the primary IP68-rated iPhone; the one with the largest display screen; has the largest battery and its show is fitted with an HDR 10 panel.

The iPhone Xs, naturally, is the priciest iPhone to this point. Should you had your eye on the 512GB iPhone Xs Max – which primarily provides an even bigger, higher-resolution show – you will be spending £1,449. Nonetheless, you do get rather a lot for the value, and must you be fortunate sufficient to have that a lot money to burn on the most recent improve, it’s going to serve you effectively. For the sake of your financial institution stability, although, please make sure to protect it in a case.

Learn our full Apple iPhone Xs review for extra particulars

Buy now from John Lewis

Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core Apple A12 Bionic ; Display: 5.8in, 1,135 x 2,436; Digicam: Twin 12-megapixel; Storage: 64GB/256GB/512GB; Working system: Apple iOS 12

7. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: Dear Android perfection

Value: £869 | Buy now from Amazon

“Why is Samsung’s Galaxy S9 Plus to this point down this listing?” I hear you cry. Effectively, Samsung’s fresh-faced flagship could also be setting the benchmark for the subsequent technology of Android handsets, however there’s one relatively wallet-scaring flaw hooked up to it. Regardless of its near-perfection, the Galaxy S9 Plus is ludicrously costly.

Okay, so Samsung’s newest plus-sized handset might look just like final 12 months’s efforts, however inner upgrades to Samsung’s newest Exynos 9810 processor (or the most recent Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, in the event you stay within the US) make this the quickest smartphone we have ever examined. Not solely that, however the brand new f/1.5 digicam breaks new floor for low-light smartphone pictures, which is made even higher with the added 2x telephoto zoom lens.

Make no mistake, that is an unrivalled smartphone, however it’s a really tough package deal to suggest at its present fee. £869 is a heck of rather a lot to pay for any cellphone. Regardless of how good it’s.

Learn our full Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review for extra particulars

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core Samsung 2.7GHz Exynos 9810; Display: 6.2in, 2,960 x 1,440; Digicam: Twin 12-megapixel; Storage: 128GB; Working system: Android 8.0

8. Huawei P20 Professional: Triple risk

Value: £799 | Buy now from Amazon

Huawei’s P20 Professional is definitely one of many extra fascinating smartphones to launch in the previous couple of years. Huawei believes that including one other digicam to the combo is exactly the factor to get futurists sizzling below the collar. Outfitted with three rear-facing cameras, the Huawei P20 Professional is way out of your bog-standard smartphone flagship, and it is a near-perfect execution from the long-standing smartphone agency.

However how does that intriguing digicam get-up work? Effectively, the usual 40-megapixel RGB digicam and 20-megapixel monochrome digicam work collectively to ship pictures of larger dynamic vary with decrease noise than would in any other case be attainable with a single digicam, whereas the monochrome sensor captures detail-rich black and white images. The third digicam – an eight-megapixel 3x telephoto lens (80mm equal focal size) – provides optical zoom. This makes for an extremely well-equipped smartphone within the digicam division, able to producing a few of the best-quality pictures we have ever seen.

Elsewhere, the cellphone is powered by Huawei’s newest octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 970 chip clocked at 2.4GHz, paired with 6GB of RAM and a beneficiant 128GB of on-board storage. There’s additionally a elaborate edge-to-edge show, with an iPhone X-like notch on the high (though it is barely smaller than Apple’s). In all, this is without doubt one of the smartphones to beat in 2018 and I anticipate different producers will comply with go well with with an analogous digicam association.

Key specs – Processor: 2.4GHz Hisilicon Kirin 970; Display: 6.1in, 2,244 x 1,080; Digicam: 40-megapixel, 20-megapixel, 8-megapixel; Storage: 64/128GB; Working system: Android 8.0

9. Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact: Measurement would not matter

Value: £500 | Buy now from Amazon

Sony’s Xperia XZ2 Compact efficiently proves that a 5in smartphone has some relevance in 2018. With shows getting larger, telephones getting bigger and trouser pockets bulging, small-screened telephones are prone to be a relic of the previous, however not right here.

Regardless of its palm-friendly measurement, the XZ2 Compact is full of the identical flagship internals as its plus-sized opponents, with a Snapdragon 845 and a very good 19-megapixel rear digicam. Sony definitely did not scrimp on efficiency, and its dinky show is without doubt one of the extra colour-accurate screens we have seen to this point. For simply £529, the XZ2 Compact is generously priced – simply do not use the 3D image-scanning characteristic, it is naff.

Learn our full Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact review for extra particulars

Key specs – Processor: 2.7GHz Snapdragon 835; Display: 5in, 2,160 x 1,080; Digicam: 19-megapixel; Storage: 64GB; Working system: Android 8.0

10. Motorola Moto Z2 Play: The modular wonderphone

Value: £379 | Buy now from Amazon

The Moto Z2 Play is an unbelievable smartphone for £379. It faces robust competitors from the marginally dearer OnePlus 6, however the Moto Z2 Play has a few fancy social gathering methods to make it stand out. Chief amongst these is its modular design.

In contrast to the LG G5, the Moto Z2 Play’s additional attachments can merely snap onto the again of the cellphone, permitting you to slap on a speaker, optical zoom, battery pack or miniature projector as and if you please. It is a sensible little bit of design, and the so-called Moto Mods themselves are infinitely superior to these you would purchase for the G5.

The Moto Z2 Play’s actual boon, nonetheless, is its stonking battery life. Lasting virtually 20 hours in our steady video playback take a look at, which is without doubt one of the greatest battery-life scores I’ve ever seen, even outstripping Samsung’s colossal Observe 7 (when it wasn’t exploding). If you need a smartphone that may go the gap with out breaking the financial institution, the Moto Z2 Play is the smartphone for you.

Learn our full Moto Z2 Play review for extra particulars

Key specs – Processor: 2.2GHz Snapdragon 626; Display: 5.5in, 1,920 x 1,080; Digicam: 12-megapixel; Storage: 64GB; Working system: Android 7.1.1

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OnePlus 6T McLaren Version: No need for speed

Last year’s OnePlus 6T made quite a statement. The definitive flagship killer remains the best-ever OnePlus phone to date and offers 99% of what its rivals can do at roughly 60% of the price. If there ever was a case against spending upwards of four figures on the latest handset, well, this was it.

OnePlus 6T McLaren Version

Final yr’s OnePlus 6T made fairly an announcement. The definitive flagship killer stays the all-time OnePlus telephone thus far and presents 99% of what its rivals can do at roughly 60% of the worth. If there ever was a case in opposition to spending upwards of 4 figures on the most recent handset, effectively, this was it. OnePlus 6T McLaren Version Review is here.

Besides there’s now a brand new OnePlus to shake issues up a bit. This particular McLaren Version of the OnePlus 6T, which prices an additional £150 over the bottom mannequin, is a slightly-beefier handset with 10GB of onboard RAM as a substitute of the same old 6- or 8GB configurations.

Purchase OnePlus 6T McLaren Version

It additionally features a fairly uncommon McLaren-inspired design, with a shiny carbon fibre-like rear and light “papaya orange” accents across the again edges of the underside half of the telephone, which mimics a Method 1 race automotive’s velocity trails.

However the variations between the two finish there. Sure, it should finally arrive in your doorstep in a particular presentation field together with some McLaren-branded knick knacks (which I’ll get onto later) however elsewhere this “restricted version” smartphone is far the identical as earlier than.

OnePlus 6T McLaren Version

Not that that’s a nasty factor. Like its non-McLaren branded counterpart, this new OnePlus 6T continues to be powered by Qualcomm’s fastest-ever cell processor, the octa-core 2.8GHz Snapdragon 845 chipset, which additionally retains issues ticking alongside on most of its flagship counterparts. It additionally features a large 256GB of onboard storage, albeit with no area for a microSD card – not that you just’ll essentially want it. Actually, that implies that though it’s £150 greater than the bottom OnePlus 6T, it’s solely £70 greater than the 8GB and 256GB mannequin.

So  is 2GB extra RAM value £70? Effectively, a smartphone with 10GB of RAM is principally overkill for almost all of smartphone customers – you received’t discover any discernible variations in day-to-day use, and it doesn’t actually add something to the telephone’s total efficiency. The OnePlus 6T McLaren Version obtained nearly an identical scores within the Geekbench four assessments

In real-world use, although, juggling a number of purposes and video games did really feel just a little bit snappier in comparison with the common OnePlus 6T. If for some motive, you’re continually pushing your telephone to its limits and will do with all the grunt you may get your arms on, there’s merely no different different in the meanwhile.

Fortunately, the added RAM doesn’t seem to have negatively affected the telephone’s stamina. The OnePlus 6T McLaren Version’s battery life stays largely unchanged, reaching a complete of 21 hours in our steady video playback check earlier than needing to recharge. The telephone additionally advantages from what the agency calls “Warp Cost 3.0”, which prices the OnePlus to 50% from empty in simply 20 minutes.

The remainder of the telephone’s particulars additionally stay the identical. The 6.41in AMOLED display continues to be 2,340 x 1,080 in decision and contains the little drop notch on the prime for the embedded selfie digicam. This association hasn’t modified both; the front-facing digicam is a 16-megapixel unit, which works with the 2 rear-facing 16- and 20-megapixel snappers.

Digicam high quality is an space the place the OnePlus 6T excels, and the McLaren version isn’t any totally different. Supplied you may have loads of mild (low-light pictures do undergo from some heavy-handed compression artifacting), photographs look sharp and detailed, with a pleasingly-natural color palette.

The telephone can be working the most recent model of Google’s ever-popular cell working system, Android 9.0, albeit with OnePlus’ personal Oxygen OS excessive. Don’t fear, so far as software program tweaks go that is the least intrusive of the lot, and the expertise feels very very similar to inventory Android. There’s a particular McLaren theme with this mannequin, although, with black backgrounds and orange textual content – however it may be turned off for those who don’t prefer it.

OnePlus 6T McLaren version: Added extras

OnePlus 6T McLaren Version

Let’s discuss that particular presentation field and McLaren-branded gubbins, then. Open the lid, and the very first thing you’ll spot is a elaborate McLaren “Salute to Velocity” e book, which works into plenty of depth in regards to the racing agency’s historical past and notable successes.

The e book additionally features a spot of AR performance. When organising the telephone, you’ll be able to level the rear digicam on the pages and reveal supplementary video diaries and even an in depth 3D picture of a Method 1 race automotive. It’s fairly enjoyable, and particularly fascinating for those who’re a eager racing fanatic. The handset itself can be discovered contained in the e book.

Sitting beneath is the McLaren-branded telephone case, in addition to the telephone’s charger and USB-C to three.5mm headphone adapter. Lastly, there’s additionally a fairly neat carbon fibre McLaren emblem, which is constructed from the Surrey-based racing workforce’s MCL33 Method 1 race automotive (which was pushed by Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne) and encased in glass for show in your shelf.

OnePlus 6T McLaren Version evaluation: Verdict

Is any of this additional stuff truly well worth the added value? Effectively, not precisely, and particularly not for those who aren’t a giant Method 1 fan. The RAM improve doesn’t provide a lot in day-to-day use, whereas the included McLaren-branded merchandise is fascinating at first however will in the end find yourself gathering mud on a shelf.

Purchase OnePlus 6T McLaren Version

If you’re a eager follower of McLaren’s Method 1 appearances, nonetheless, and just like the look of the telephone’s particular design, there is definitely a powerful case to be made for paying the additional value.

However, with the added £150 bringing the worth of the OnePlus 6T McLaren version to a not-so-mid-range £649, the telephone strikes dangerously near nearly all of top-shelf Android flagships. It fails to achieve pole place in consequence.

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BlackBerry Key2 LE review: Party like it’s 2002

It feels odd to say this, given TCL Communications has sent us a phone with a physical keyboard in 2019 but, in a strange way, the Chinese company is listening. It’s not that people are buying BlackBerry handsets in huge numbers any more.

BlackBerry Key2 LE

It feels odd to say this, given TCL Communications has sent us a phone with a physical keyboard in 2019 but, in a strange way, the Chinese company is listening. It’s not that people are buying BlackBerry handsets in huge numbers any more. That ship well and truly departed a decade ago. But, with the Blackberry Key2 LE, the company has fixed our main issue with the KeyTwo: the, uh, “optimistic” pricing.

To do so, TCL has had to make a number of concessions but overall they’ve been made in the right place to bring the BlackBerry Key2 LE to a price that shouldn’t leave you in total disbelief.

Unless you happen to think that buying a BlackBerry in 2019 is a mad thing to do, which is a point it’s pretty hard to argue with, considering the quality of the opposition.

BlackBerry Key2 LE review: What you need to know

It’s the third outing for the reborn, keyboard-based BlackBerry. No, it’s not still made by Canadian firm RIM but by TCL Communications, the firm that’s also recently brought back Palm in a pique of retro fever.

The second keyboard-based BlackBerry, the KeyTwo impressed us well enough last year but the price felt a bit high considering the distinctly middle-of-the-road innards. Suffice to say you were paying a premium price for a keyboard.

The Key2 LE (“Light Edition”) fixes that, knocking a cool £229 off the price. To do that, TCL has cut the processor speed, RAM and battery capacity and included a slightly less appealing keyboard.

BlackBerry Key2 LE review: Price and competition

With that kind of specification surgery, you’d better hope the price is low and, gratifyingly, it is. While the original BlackBerry KeyTwo came in at £579, only £20 less than the LG G7 Thinq, the Key2 LE is a far more reasonable £350.

If specifications are all you care about you can still do better for the price, though. The Pocophone F1 is £330, and it comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, a chip that, bluntly, wipes the floor with the Snapdragon 636 inside the Key2 LE.

But, let’s assume you want a physical keyboard (why else would you be reading a BlackBerry review in 2019?) What alternatives are there? Well, there’s the original BlackBerry KeyOne, of course, which now goes for around £230. My advice, though, would be to look at buying a Samsung Galaxy S8, and pairing it with Samsung’s keyboard cover. It’s the most powerful BlackBerry-like experience you’ll get in 2019 by some distance.

Samsung hasn’t made the keyboard cover for the S9, so I can only assume nobody was buying them, though.

BlackBerry Key2 LE review: Design

Buy you’ve presumably ruled out buying a Samsung flagship, so let’s talk about BlackBerry. The Key2 LE’s design is actually rather smart and I’ve found myself growing rather fond of it over the time I’ve spent using as my main phone.

It’s certainly different. A 3:2 aspect-ratio display in an era where phone screens are favouring 18:9 or greater is a bold move, although not quite as bold as occupying the bottom two-fifths of the front with a 35-key keyboard. It’s separated from the screen by a bezel filled with off-screen capacitive navigation keys.

As for the rest of the design, that’s quite nice, too, and echoes the layout of the Key2. The top of the chassis is neatly squared off, the bottom has curved corners so it shouldn’t catch on the lining of your pocket and the whole phone is framed in a smart, champagne gold trim.

Flip it over and you’ll find a nicely rubberised back that feels wonderfully grippy in the hand and a genuine breath of fresh air when compared with what BlackBerry hopes will be its rivals. The familiar BlackBerry logo is embossed in silver two-thirds of the way up and a dual-camera sits at the top.

You can buy a dual-SIM version and it supports microSD cards up to 256GB in size. It isn’t waterproofed – there are quite a lot of gaps between those little keys – but it does maintain the headphone jack, like the good old days.

BlackBerry Key2 LE review: Keyboard

There’s no getting around it: I have big hands and, as such, I’ve never seen the appeal in poking at tiny buttons like I’m playing the world’s most tedious minature game of Whack-A-Mole.

Actually, I’m not really a big fan of typing on smartphones, full stop. I only type on my phone as an absolute last resort: WhatsApp Web is a Godsend. That said, I’ve actually found the BlackBerry Key2 LE keyboard a pleasant surprise. I can certainly see the appeal, even if part of that appeal is the clickity-clack of looking important while you hammer out a tiny email.

The keys are decently spaced enough that typos are rare, although it has the strange side effect of making me watch my fingers, rather than the words appearing on the screen. Additionally, adding commas and question marks requires you to press the tiny “alt” button first, which is tedious if you’re the kind of bore that insists on perfect grammar in your texts. (Solidarity, reader: I’m one of you.)

Still, generally the predictive text jumps in at exactly the points where you would want it to, offering suggestions which generally make sense and adding apostrophes to save you the frustrating alt-key dance. The fingerprint reader is also embedded in the spacebar, which is a very nice touch and works well. It’s a pity that said space bar doesn’t double up as a home button but you can’t have anything.

But remember how I said the keyboard was one area where BlackBerry had cut corners with the LE? It’s no longer touch sensitive. That means you can’t use it as a touchpad for scrolling through webpages and it doesn’t allow you to flick your fingers upwards at the words you want to pick. You can still set keys to act as shortcuts to launch apps, which is a nice touch, if a little pointless given your favourites are easily accessible in a touch-friendly interface an inch away.

Would I pick this over a touchscreen keyboard? Absolutely not but it was a closer call than I thought it would be before I picked up the BlackBerry Key2 LE. The deciding factors are twofold: first, I miss swiping my words, which I still find the quickest way of entering text in a hurry. Second, I found that to type with any kind of speed on the BlackBerry, I need to use two thumbs. That makes texting and walking nearly impossible, which is a real pain if you’re running late and need to tell someone pronto.

BlackBerry Key2 LE review: Screen

Two years ago, phones switched up their aspect ratios, most moving to a long and thin 18:9, rather than the dumpier 16:9 of old. The resurrected BlackBerrys don’t play these games at all, providing a 3:2, 4.5in touchscreen placed just above the keyboard.

Does that make interacting with apps a bit more awkward? You betcha. Even pressing the home, back or menu buttons requires you to lift your thumb above the keyboard, which is as fiddly as it sounds.

But hey, you know what you’re signing up for when you buy a BlackBerry, so how does the display perform on a technical level? Really well, as it turns out. It’s an IPS panel, with a resolution of 1,620 x 1,080 meaning you get a decent pixel density of 434ppi.

Better still, it performs better than the more expensive BlackBerry KeyTwo. It covers 98.5% of the sRGB colour spectrum, up 5% on its pricier sibling and it reaches a peak brightness of 470cd/m2 compared with the KeyTwo’s 397cd/m2. Contrast is slightly weaker but, at 1,239:1, it would be churlish to moan too much.

It’s still not the perfect screen for binge-watching Netflix shows on, thanks to the ruddy great keyboard poking out of the side but it’s actually pretty good for what it is.

BlackBerry Key2 LE review: Performance

So far, so good then: £230 off the price of the original BlackBerry KeyTwo, with only minor keyboard annoyances to contend with. How about the reduction in core specifications?

The new BlackBerry Key2 LE comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, while it’s more expensive sibling features the 660. Both are octa-core chips but there’s a 400MHz clock speed difference between them. Piling on the pressure for the upcoming benchmarks is the loss of 2GB RAM between versions. While the KeyTwo had 6GB, the Key2 LE has to make do with 4GB.

So, what does that mean in practical terms?

The good news is that it’s not too far behind the non-LE version. You may come up against a memory ceiling now and then. The software warned me at one point that I needed to close things to make it perform better. Generally, however, the difference shouldn’t be all that different. Not £230 different, anyway.

BlackBerry Key2 LE

The elephant in the room is how much better you can do for the money with a non-BlackBerry phone. Off both the charts above is the Xiaomi Pocophone F1, which comes in £20 cheaper. The Nokia 8.1 is £30 more expensive than the BlackBerry Key2 LE and beats it comfortably.

The Samsung Galaxy S8, a handset fast approaching its second birthday, is significantly faster and can be made BlackBerry-like by adding the official Samsung keyboard cover.

Battery life is equally underwhelming, comparatively speaking, with the Key2 LE lasting only 13hrs 18 mins in our video playback test. Confusingly, this is 12 minutes longer than the KeyTwo despite it having a 500mAh smaller battery.

Of course, there’s more to phones than just benchmarks and one of the things that has most impressed me about the Key2 LE is the software. Don’t worry, you don’t have to learn/relearn BlackBerry OS; this is a nicely skinned version of Android with some BlackBerry-specific flavours.

Some of these are purely cosmetic. I like the charging bar that snakes around the edges of the screen when you plug the phone in, and the tiled apps that appear when you tap the menu button, but other features are a hell of a lot more useful.


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BlackBerry Messenger may be a peculiar throwback in 2019, but DTEK by BlackBerry is a useful privacy and security checker, and there are other brilliant tools built in for the privacy and business conscious. Privacy Shade makes the entire screen pitch black, except for a single-line window that you can drag along with your finger, meaning sensitive emails are safe from people reading over your shoulder. Redactor is equally useful, allowing you to paste thick black lines over text in screenshots before sending them, removing secrets from prying eyes.

BlackBerry Key2 LE review: Camera

For those easily bamboozled by specifications, the camera specs look slightly better on paper than the original KeyTwo but, make no mistake, this is a downgrade disguised as an upgrade. Yes, it’s now 13 megapixels compared with the original’s 12 megapixels, but the aperture was a larger f/1.8 and it’s now a smaller f/2.2. Worse, the sensor size has shrunk from 1/2.3in to 1/3.1in, which means considerably less light gathering potential.

Despite this, the performance here isn’t too bad but the complaints we had with the KeyTwo are repeated here: a smoothing effect seems to apply in post-processing which gives things an unnatural look.

As you can see in the comparison shots with the Nokia 8.1, it’s getting plenty of detail, but said detail is lost with aggressive processing that leaves areas of similar colour looking smudged.

The quality of images isn’t too bad for the price but the real issue I have is with the actual day to day use of the camera. You have to remain perfectly still in the second after pressing the capture button. If you don’t, the result will be a blurred image. Suffice to say, this makes my Instagram hobby of cat photography almost impossible but maybe BlackBerry users care more about emails than feline photography.

BlackBerry Key2 LE review: Verdict

Should you buy a BlackBerry in 2019? I wouldn’t personally. Touchscreen keyboards have come a long way in the last decade and a physical keyboard feels like a relic that’s more likely to get in the way than prove genuinely useful nowadays.

But if you do long for a handset that’s a little different then you could do worse than the BlackBerry Key2 LE. On the whole, the cuts made over the original KeyTwo don’t add up to £230 less value in my eyes.

And yes, you could add a keyboard cover to the Samsung Galaxy S8 for a better overall Android experience but if you prefer everything with a BlackBerry taste, then the Key2 LE is worth a nibble.


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Google to remove Android apps requesting SMS and Call Log access

Google has said it will begin removing Android apps that seek unjustified access to the device owner’s call and text message logs.

Google to remove Android apps

Google has said it will begin removing Android apps that seek unjustified access to the device owner’s call and text message logs.

The company is requiring apps that request this highly personal information from users’ devices must fill in a permissions declarations form to explain why, or revoke the permissions in a new version of the app.

Developers that fail to do either will be removed from the Play Store automatically, as will those who fail to provide sufficient reasoning.

The news comes from Paul Bankhead, who is the director of product management at Google, who points out that many apps, such as diallers or messaging tools, require such access as part of their basic functionality.

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In a blog post (via The Register), he wrote: “We take access to sensitive data and permissions very seriously. This is especially true with SMS and Call Log permissions, which were designed to allow users to pick their favourite dialler or messaging app, but have also been used to enable many other experiences that might not require that same level of access.

“Our new policy is designed to ensure that apps asking for these permissions need full and ongoing access to the sensitive data in order to accomplish the app’s primary use case, and that users will understand why this data would be required for the app to function.”

Developers affected by the policy change have already been emailed and have been given 90 days to either remove those permissions or submit the aforementioned form. The company says each submission will be evaluated by its review teams. It says tens of thousands of devs have already resubmitted apps to support the new policy, or submitted a form.

“Over the next few weeks, we will be removing apps from the Play Store that ask for SMS or Call Log permission and have not submitted a permission declaration form,” Bankhead added.

Those apps subject to removal must submit a new version of the app without these permissions or submit the firm before March 9.

Does Google do a good enough job of keeping app permissions under control? Let us know @css0cder on Twitter.

 

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