September 26, 2020

5 underrated Android BlackBerry features we want on new BlackBerry phones

Legacy BlackBerry Android phones have some nifty features and functions we want to see on next year's devices.

Holding two Blackberry Key2 LE devices showing backs, cameras, and BlackBerry logo

The BlackBerry-TCL deal came to an end earlier this year, and we thought this might mark the end of BlackBerry Android phones. However, security startup OnwardMobility has now inked an agreement with the Canadian company to produce 5G BlackBerry-branded phones in 2021.

For what it’s worth, previous BlackBerry phones all delivered a few interesting features that helped make them stand out. So, here are some of the more underrated features we’d like to see OnwardMobility bring back when it releases its take on BlackBerry Android devices.


1. Privacy Shade

Privacy Shade

The Privacy Shade feature is a BlackBerry-exclusive function that makes it tough for people to look over your shoulder and steal a glance at your screen. We hope to see it pre-installed on future BlackBerry Android phones.

This function blacks out your entire screen aside from the area around your finger. This way, you can drag your finger around the screen to read something or look at content. This seems ideal for when you’re on the subway, in a cramped airplane seat, or in any other situation where strangers might peek at your phone.


2. Sending images straight to your privacy locker

One of the more underrated features we’ve seen on BlackBerry Android phones has to be the fingerprint shutter option. Yes, we know that the ability to use a physical fingerprint scanner as a shutter button isn’t new at all. But it’s what these phones do afterwards that makes for a handy feature.

Related: How fingerprint scanners work — optical, capacitive, and ultrasonic variants explained

Tap the KeyOne or Key2‘s fingerprint scanner — embedded in the spacebar — to take a photo and it’ll automatically send that image to your privacy locker. This way you don’t need to remember to delete that sensitive picture or move it to your file safe.


3. Boost Mode for charging

Blackberry Key2

This isn’t a fancy name for proprietary fast charging or anything like that, but nonetheless TCL’s BlackBerry-branded phones offered a Boost Mode that helps you get topped up sooner. All you need to do is plug in your BlackBerry Android device and choose the option when prompted.

Boost Mode essentially reduces your phone’s power usage in order to decrease the charging time. It does this by changing how often your phone syncs data and notifications as well as cutting down on system animations. Thankfully, TCL also allows you to end Boost Mode after a specific period of time on charge or after a set percentage is reached.

Sure, Boost Mode is basically a low-power mode that we’ve seen on other phones in some respects. But the execution definitely makes it one of the more underrated features we’ve seen on a BlackBerry Android phone.


4. A Convenience Key

TCL’s BlackBerry phones packed a Convenience Key that could open a desired app or feature with the press of a button. This isn’t anything new either, as we’ve previously seen a few phones offer hardware shortcut keys over the years — such as Samsung’s Bixby key. Nonetheless, it’s still a very handy feature to have.

Read: 5 best Bixby remapper apps worth trying

In saying so, TCL made the Convenience Key very smart on the Key2 series. The key’s assigned function can change depending on where you are and what you’re doing. For example, our own Jimmy Westenberg said a music streaming app can automatically be assigned to this button when the phone detects that you’re driving. Or you can choose to have the button open your Slack app when the phone detects you’re at work.


5. Keyboard shortcuts

Blackberry KEY2 Red Edition keyboard

The BlackBerry KeyOne and Key2 series both let you assign apps to the keyboard itself as well. For example, those wanting to quickly launch Gmail on the KeyOne can just hold down on the G key. However, this feature only works when you’re on the homescreen.

Fortunately, the Key2 phones introduce a Speed Key. For example, you simply need to hold down on this key and press G to launch Gmail. It works no matter which app you’re using, allowing you to quickly open and juggle apps without going back to the homescreen.

We already know that OnwardMobility is working on at least one BlackBerry phone with a keyboard, so here’s hoping this shortcut feature lands on that device.


Are there any other underrated BlackBerry Android features you’d like to see on the new BlackBerry phones? Let us know in the comments section!