Review by Sunetra Chakravati,7/29/2016 4:09:24 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Blackberry enterprise apps | Under-£300 price tag | Incredible security features
No fingerprint scanner | 16GB onboard storage | under-average looks |odd setup of keys
The Blackberry Priv was a delight to use- robust, premium and solid, it had what Blackberry were always famous for: the keyboard AND that what people had grown to love: a pure Android operating system.
Unfortunately, it was also eye-wateringly expensive and by Blackberry's own admission- too pricey for its fans.
From a £500+ handset to the one in my hand, the Blackberry DTEK50 which costs just £275- it has been a short journey for the once goliath of the mobile industry.
So will the DTEK50 wow me as much as the Priv did?
Well, it is a handset that is totaly orientated towards making your phone as secure as possible while making sure it stays within the semi-budget price bracket. So the accent is not totally on the aesthetics. The phone has been manufactured by Alcatel and the similarities between the Alcatel Pop4 and the Blackberry DTEK50 are more than passing.
However, Blackberry have added hints and accents to make the handset their own. The back has a textured rubberised feel to it and they have opted to keep the speaker grilles top and bottom of the phone, although these micro-drilled holes are dust and fluff magnets.
The phone is super slim, however and weighs very little too. Furthermore, the chamfered edges give it a very reassuring and business-like look. The Blackberry logo is embossed on the back and the camera lens is on the top left.
The most irksome feature about the phone is the odd placement of the buttons, specifically the power button and the 'convenience key' which Blackberry have swapped usage for... So the round textured metal button on the right side of the phone is now one that you can program to launch any app you prefer while the key on the top left of the phone is the power key. It is so confusing that I would very often use one for the other...
The DTEK50 has a 5.2-inch LCD screen with an oleophobic coating to ward off those pesky prints and video playback is in full HD @ 424pixels per inch. WHile absolutely satisfactory, it gets a battering when compared to other under-£300 superheroes like the Vodafone Smart Platinum 7 or even the OnePlus 3.
The camera is uninspiring at best. Although with a 13-MP sensor on the primary one, the results are not as you would expect and the 8-MP selfie camera has a flash, which again is a handy addition but not a selling point for the phone.
Blackberry told me that they have hard baked security features into every aspect of the DTEK50 giving personal data on the phone the kind of coccooning that other manufacturers could only aspire to achieve on their phones, and given Blackberry's pedigree in producing secure phones, I would accept what they say...
The basic operating system is still Android and all the security features are not just on the software level but built from ground up and embedded into the Linux kernel. Here is the top line on them:
BlackBerry promise 'zero day patching' on their device, so if Google have released a list of security flaws within the Android ecosystem that could leave your phone prone to malicious attacks, then BB will patch the loophole within 24 hours of the news being made public.
You can check this by going into Settings -> About Phone -> Android Security patch level.
This is a really interesting one because as soon as you fire up the app, the meter on it tells you if your phone is secure or not. Putting a pattern or pin screen lock makes it super safe and then it will further instruct/advice you on how you can make the phone safer by letting you know which apps have requested for what permission... Like a flashlight app shouldnt really need access to your microphone etc.
Furthermore, it protects your device from being reset and also monitors third party apps if they try to make changes to the Android OS.
BlackBerry’s manufacturing process uses a proprietary technique that adds security from the start, allowing for the tracking, verification and provisioning of DTEK50.
So, apparently, each stage of DTEK50’s secure boot chain must first verify that the next component is fully intact before proceeding, ensuring that the device has not been tampered with since the last restart.
I, would obviously not be able to vouch for this but it sounds more than impressive to me!
BlackBerry provides additional security patches, improved random number, address space generation and certificate pinning to make it more difficult for attackers to target a device by scrambling application/system memory.
Requirements and standards for cryptography modules that include both hardware and software components and the Blackberry DTEK50 is fully compliant with this. The full disk encryption protects private information, from being stolen.
It is not a top tier processor on here, not that we should expect it to be, for the price but it is an octa-core one with a 3GB RAM. However, the on-board storage is a paltry 16GB and even though there is expandable storage, you only get GB after all the Blackberry enterprise apps and security features have been added on.
Battery wasn't as good as I would have expected... And the fact that it is a 2650mAH number should give some indication of how it cannot compete with the ones these days with over 3000mAH capabilities. The DTEK50 lost 5 percent of battery when I streamed HD quality videos from Youtube over 4G for 15 minutes.
There is no fingerprint scanner on board and when I asked Blackberry if it was because it isnt a very robust security feature, they said the lack of a scanner was only because they wanted to bring the phone in for under-£300.
If it is security and functionality you are after- this is the phone for you. The camera could have been better and although the display is great, the audio reproduction quality and the battery life pull it back slightly from being the great streaming device it could have been.
It has Blackberry's enterprise features in their entireity and the few modifications on Android are well thought out and not just cosmetic.
It is a good performer- as long that's all you need from your phone. There are faster, better phones out there that cost the same or less and there are security apps that do a lot, but ultimately this is a Blackberry and a brand that is or used to be synonymous with trust and that's what might make this handset a quiet winner.
Operating System: Android 6.0.1
Dimensions: 147 x 72.5x 7.4mm
Resolution: 1920 x 1080 Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) 424 PPI
Display: 5.2-inch scratch resistant display1080p IPS LCD
Processor: Snapdragon 617 Octa-Core, 64 bit; 3GB RAM
Camera: 8-MP front camera with flash and 13-MP auto-focus rear camera; 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps
Memory: 16 GB, Expandable memory via hot swappable microSD
Battery: 2610 mAh
Fingerprint sensor: Yes
Misc: Convenience Key; keyboard with contextual auto-correction, next-word prediction and a personalised learning engine