Just a few months ago BlackBerry launched the DTEK50. This is a solid mid range smartphone that offers excellent hardware and performance for the price.
In my mind the DTEK50 was discussed more because it was produced by TCL, rather than on its own merits. This was a departure for BlackBerry who traditionally manufacture their own devices.
In actual everyday use though I believe the DTEK50 is a bit of an unsung hero. It might not be revolutionary, but it works very well. That’s all many want from a smartphone now. A tool from a recognised brand that achieving something for you.
Perhaps it fell short on internal hardware specs for those who desired the very best. In response to this, we now have the DTEK60 by BlackBerry.
BlackBerry DTEK60 Hardware Specifications
Essentially a DTEK50 on steroids, the DTEK60 boasts:
- Android 6.1 Marshmallow
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB internal memory
- MicroSD card slot
- 5.5” Quad HD display
- 4G connectivity
- 21 megapixel camera
- 8 megapixel front facing camera
- 3000mAh battery
- Fingerprint sensor
- USB Type-C
- Quick charge 3.0
This should answer the raw hardware specification requirements of the power user.
Sit the new BlackBerry DTEK60 next to the DTEK50 and there’s no denying that they are 2 seeds from the same tree. They look almost identical albeit different sizes.
This is most certainly a good thing. Although they have the typical ‘black slab’ smartphone look to them, there is slight curvature and design cues that make the devices stand out.
Above and below the main body of the phone slightly recessed stereo speakers sit inside the handset frame.
All touchscreen there are no capacitive buttons below the 5.5” display and above it are only sensors, an LED notification light and the front facing 8 megapixel camera.
On the upper right edge of the device, the gunmetal grey frame is home to the volume key with the convenience key standing out halfway down, ideally located for the thumb on your right hand when held in portrait orientation.
The left side is home to the power button, SIM card and MicroSD card slots. These slots are accessed via a removable tray that pops out by inserting a special pin.
A 3.5mm headphone jack is available on the left side of the top edge along with a microphone.
The bottom edge is home to another microphone and the USB Type-C charging and data port. Frustratingly this is off centre, which is a bit of an inconvenience when it comes to docking in vehicles and cradles, although not insurmountable.
Built into the top and bottom edges are the antenna bands, that help the device achieve a strong signal.
Flip the phone over and there is a slightly glossy back panel which is a sort of smoked grey colour.
The BlackBerry logo sits under this panel and is smooth to the touch rather than being embossed.
In the central upper third, sits the 21 megapixel, 4K capable camera, with dual led flash to the right and the fingerprint sensor below. Protruding from the body of the handset, the metal frame and a very slight recessed positioning of the lens helps reduce the chance of damage.
When laid flat the device sits firm in portrait orientation, but in landscape, touch the screen and there is noticeable wobble.
The fingerprint sensor which is an addition to the DTEK60 is a glossy black colour and stands out against the grey body.
In hand the device certainly feels solid, although more slippy in my opinion. I have smaller hands and liked the textured back panel of the DTEK50. It is a shame the DTEK60 does not benefit from such either. I think it would have helped give the DTEK60 a bit of an edge against the Galaxy S7, Sony XZ and similar devices, whilst also giving that extra grippable service.
At 5.5” the DTEK fits with the trend of larger phones that many have become accustomed to.
A resolution of 2560 x 1440 and a pixel per inch count of 534, this is one rather impressive display. Perhaps overkill for a lot of what you need to do, but great when it comes to media playback.
The screen does have an a scratch resistant glass and an oleophobic coating.
Whether my sample missed the coating process or not I am not sure, but fingerprints were obvious on both the screen and back panel.
Visibility in bright sunlight was not too bad either. I have experienced better but also slightly worse.
Of course you have full control over the brightness and the display supports double-tap to wake, which is useful as that power button placement may be a stretch for some.
Software & Performance
BlackBerry may be best known for their own BBOS but over the last year, the Canadian firm have invested in Android, but done so in a way that is different from many other brands.
BlackBerry’s approach appeals primarily to the security and business focused individual. If you want Spotify, Facebook or Netflix preinstalled on the DTEK60 out of the box, then sorry this is not on the DTEK60.
If you would however like to know that in October you will get October’s security patch from Google then great, you will with a BlackBerry phone.
You also have the option of running the DTEK software which monitors your device’s security levels. Advising you where improvements can be made for your own benefit.
Surprisingly for a company focused on security, the DTEK60 is the first to have a fingerprint sensor. I think the jury is out on the best position for such. I like Sony’s side mounted sensor, but Samsung and Apple favour the front, whilst LG and Honor have opted for rear mounted fingerprint sensors.
A neat feature that I have seen on Honor devices, but not many others is that the fingerprint sensor is also functional when the device is in use. Being able to use the sensor as a trackpad for web pages or documents, would be nice on this device BlackBerry, but hey perhaps I am asking too much.
Whilst the installation of Android is not ‘stock’ the customisations are functional and do have an obvious business slant to them and a synergy to BB OS.
I particularly like the shortcuts which make it easy to do anything from composing an email to adding a calendar appointment, with just a tap on screen.
The productivity tab found lurking on the right edge of the display is also great for quick glance and action points. From viewing your next calendar appointments, to your inbox and tasks, the idea is to make essential information easily accessible.
If you are always on the go and want useful snapshot information, then you will love this.
A similar feature is the physical convenience key on the right edge of the device. Programmable via the settings you can choose what is displayed to you when you press it.
Of course there are other additions that help make things more convenient. BlackBerry Hub is a one stop shop as it were to communication including email and social media, whilst service search makes finding what you want simpler.
The intelligent keyboard learns and predicts word suggestions for you and actually it is really quite good. Start typing and word suggestions will appear above the letters, just flick up to select that prediction. A bit of practice and text entry is quicker, and this is across all data entry points, not just BlackBerry apps like messaging.
What you choose to use is your decision but you might be surprised how much of what is provided is beneficial.
Out of the 32GB internal storage, approximately 23GB is available for you to actually use. This gives a reasonable amount of space for files but all the connectivity options let you stream if you prefer or you can take advantage of the MicroSD card slot.
Over the few days I used the DTEK60 I noticed no slowdown from the Snapdragon 820 processor. This is probably thanks to the 4GB of RAM and the fact that the 820 is now a tried and perfected chip.
At times the back of the phone did get a little warm, not hot but you could notice a slight increase in temperature.
I can’t really fault what is on offer here.
USB Type-C power and data connection definitely gets a thumbs up from me. The off-centre positioning of this port on the bottom of the device is a little more contentious. By no means a deal breaker, but it is just preferable in the centre for all sorts of docks and when it comes to connecting cables.
Bluetooth, WiFi (2.4 & 5GHz), GPS, NFC, 4G are all present and function as you would expect.
The removable SIM card tray takes a nano SIM and a MicroSD card up to a theoretical limit of 2TB, giving option for expanding the internal memory.
The 3.5mm jack is present for headphones and the rear mounted fingerprint sensor paves the way for improved security but efficient mobile payments with Android pay.
You can’t really fail to be impressed by the speakers on the DTEK60.
Dual stereo speakers above and below the display punch out a sound that is not only loud but clear. It puts the single speaker on the Samsung Galaxy S7 to shame.
Are they perfect, no, but we are talking about a smartphone that is 7mm thick. If you want perfect audio, you shouldn’t expect it from a smartphone.
Their design and positioning means that the sound is pushed out front and backwards giving a fuller and more rounded sound irrespective of how you are positioned in relation to the device.
It is also hard to muffle the sound that comes from them.
There is a 3.5mm headphone jack for those who still prefer the traditional cable connection, or Bluetooth is an option if you want to go wireless.
The DTEK60 has a camera fitting of a 2016 spec sheet. The jump up to 21 megapixels with dual LED flash from 13MP on the DTEK50 is certainly noticeable.
Sadly, I do not think the resulting images quite stand up to the likes of the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7.
I found the results to have a more natural and flatter colour profile. In my opinion the images are more realistic of the scene with no oversaturation. Unfortunately there appeared to be a bit of noise, plus a lack of clarity in some shots I took in automatic mode.
Perhaps a few software tweaks will get a bit from this camera.
There are manual shooting options so competent photographers can get a better shot. Controls include exposure, ISO and white balance.
Additional features include filters for different colour profiles, flash control, HDR, timer, image ratio and geolocation.
Autofocus is present as are stabilisation options. These are included when recording video, which tops out at 4K resolution at 60 frames per second.
Video stabilisation is only available at 1080p resolution/30fps and below.
You can capture still images whilst recording video too. I always find this handy, along with digital zoom available by pinch and zoom.
What I would like to see in the app is both a still image capture button and video record button. As it is you have to manually switch modes.
Fixed internally is a large 3,000 mAh battery which should get you through a working day.
Of course a ‘working day’ for some is different to others. Exact battery life time will vary based on your usage patterns.
Samsung’s 5.5” screened S7 Edge boasts an extra 500 mAh but it is another 0.7 mm thicker. I believe iPhone 7 Plus has a 2,900 mAh cell, so there’s not great variance between these.
One omission in my mind is wireless charging. This isn’t a big deal, however it would have been nice to have.
Quick Charge 3.0 will come as a real bonus for the power hungry. Compatible turbo chargers deliver a rapid boost of power. This can deliver almost a full battery in half an hour or less.
The DTEK60 does not shout ‘look at me’ or ‘use me’ in a way that many other devices do.
BlackBerry don’t have a massive marketing spend. You won’t see TV adverts highlighting how the BlackBerry DTEK60 can make your life better. In my opinion this is not needed.
For some a phone is a fashion accessory and the DTEK60 can be this. At its core though, this handset is more about being a tool. It’s a workhorse and a powerful piece of kit that keeps you connected, in contact and working efficiently on the go.
The BlackBerry DTEK60 is a balance of desirable hardware specifications with a subtle, neat software implementation. Enhancements such as a commitment to support security updates and privacy make the DTEK60 an impressive device that just works.