The BlackBerry DTEK50 is the second Android device and the first of a new generation of phones by BlackBerry. It is the first phone that wasn’t designed by BlackBerry from the ground up. Instead, it is a modified version of Alcatel Idol 4 carrying a BlackBerry badge. Have a look at the specs for the Alcatel Idol 4.
BlackBerry advertised the DTEK50 as the most secure Android phone, putting it on par with last year’s BlackBerry Priv in terms of security. Unlike the Priv, it is more of a mid-range device. Check out the specs of the BlackBerry DTEK50 here.
And now, to the review proper of the DTEK50.
BlackBerry DTEK50 Review: Design
The DTEK50 is relatively thin and quite light. At the top end of the phone is the 3.5mm headphone socket.
To the right is the power button which still confuses me, as on the opposite side is the volume button. I have often mistaken the volume button for the power button, perhaps out of habit.
Some distance below the volume button is a Convenience key which could easily be confused with the power button. It is a button that can be made into a shortcut key for an app or a regular function that you use..or it can just be ignored.
Just below the Convenience key are the SIM and SD card slots. The DTEK50 takes a nano SIM.
The back of the phone has a kind of matt, plastic, rubberised feel to it, so it’s unlikely to slip out of your hand easily. In terms of size, the phone has a 5.2-inch screen, similar to that found on the Nexus 5X and the HTC One M8.
At the front side of both the top and bottom of the phone are the speakers.
BlackBerry DTEK50 Review: Software
The DTEK50 runs Android 6 Marshmallow. One of the selling points is that BlackBerry will fix security patches quicker than the competition. True to form, this happened when the first security vulnerability appeared after the release of the DTEK50 – and in less than 24 hours there was a patch fix.
The other selling point was the DTEK software, which basically allows you to set the security status of your phone and control the permissions your apps have. It may seem gimmicky but it was useful to know I could control which apps had access to my camera or phonebook for example, however it does require a lot of playing around with but seems intuitive enough. The DTEK software comes pre-installed.
The DTEK50 also comes with BlackBerry Hub which doesn’t appear that different to the BlackBerry Hub on devices running BB10. There are also some nice shortcuts that you can use on the home screen which I’m sure power users might find useful.
One thing I actually like about this phone is the BlackBerry keyboard. Some people may prefer SwiftKey or Google keyboard. I tried both of them and stuck with the default BlackBerry keyboard. One of the reasons I prefer it is that, like the Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile keyboard, it can actually decipher your gobbledegook and get the word right. This is something that I find isn’t as intuitive on other keyboards. I first used the keyboard on the BlackBerry Torch 9810, so I’m glad to see it transferred and well implemented into the Android platform.
BlackBerry DTEK50 Review: Display and multimedia
One of the best things about the DTEK50 is how clear and bright the 5.2-inch screen is…or maybe everything just seemed bigger since I swapped from the 4-inch screen I’d become used to 😀 The screen is supposedly “scratch resistant” but for some reason I’ve managed to acquire a scratch on mine 🙁
I’ve played a couple of games on it, mainly Pokemon Go and Candy Crush Soda. Actually, it is mostly Pokemon Go. The only problems I’ve had are usually to do with GPS. Otherwise the graphics are fairly good and the game flows without any major freezes or crashes.
And, as I have recently discovered, one gimmick applicable to the Alcatel Idol 4 also works with the DTEK50. You can use the phone upside down and speak to someone! I’ve tried it recently and on both occasions the callers could hear me clearly.
BlackBerry DTEK50 Review: Photography
The DTEK50 comes with an 8 megapixel front facing fixed focus camera, and at the rear, a 13 megapixel auto focus camera. Photos on the front facing camera are fine but to be honest, the rear camera, especially the colour renditions, are disturbing.
Sometimes it captures the actual colour of an object in poor lighting. At other times, it over exposes the object and the photo you end up with in no way reflects what is in front of you. I’ve tried to capture the conflict as best as I could using three different phone cameras (humour me, I had a bit of time on my hands!). This one was taken using the iPhone, so you can see how the colour appears in the DTEK50’s screen compared to how it looks on the iPhone. Trust me, some were far worse.
Neither phone captures the actual colours seen by the naked eye – at least the olive/khaki coloured item, but the iPhone – right photo – at least gets close enough to the original colour of the grey item. In good lighting however, it doesn’t seem to have as much of a problem with colours – or at least some colours.
BlackBerry DTEK50 Review: Multitasking/Performance
One of the things that appealed to me about this phone was that it has 3 GB of RAM. Prior to this I had used a TECNO Camon C8, which had 1 GB of RAM and it was noticeable when trying to carry out the simplest of tasks. Seriously, every day when I used the C8 an app crashed, whether it was Candy Crush, Facebook or the browser. With the DTEK50 I’ve had none of those problems.
The speakers are good and sound is clear. I’ve listened to music and radio on the phone but as primarily a headphone/earphone person, the speakers don’t get used much.
The phone comes reportedly with 16 GB of memory, which means you’ll probably end up with anything from 9 GB to 12 GB of space available. I didn’t install a lot of the recommended BlackBerry bumpf when setting it up so saved myself some space. Right now it’s crammed and I can’t be bothered to move apps to the SD card because I don’t have to. Funny enough, it doesn’t seem to have slowed the device down, which I didn’t expect.
BlackBerry DTEK50 Review: Battery Life
In a word, awful. But then what do you expect from a 2610 mAh capacity battery? I was expecting better performance as I had previously been using a 4 year old iPhone with a 1440 mAh battery for about a year. I used to charge the iPhone about twice a day. With the DTEK50, I pretty much have to do the same.
The battery doesn’t last a day. In fact, during my morning commute I easily use 40-50% of my battery – which is exactly the same as my old iPhone. My phone activities usually involve reading articles, a bit of social media and listening to internet radio or music. Worse still, the iPhone used to charge fairly quickly via my computer’s USB port. Not the DTEK50. I have spent pretty much half of my working day charging it via computer USB so if you’re not charging the DTEK50 directly from the mains, you’ll need to learn patience.
There is the option of battery saving mode which is useful if you’re not streaming anything. I did manage to eke out a day’s worth for about 8 hours, arriving back home with 1% to spare! With this baby, you’ll need to take a battery pack with you.
BlackBerry DTEK50 Review: Final Words
Why did I decide to buy the BlackBerry DTEK50? I already had a perfectly functioning phone and there were cheaper Android phones out there. I guess my curiosity was piqued when I read about the security features and wanted to see what the fuss was about. To date, the only Android phone that has impressed me has been the original Motorola Moto G.
I wasn’t sure about a 5.2-inch sized phone, but the weight makes it easy to use even if my hand can just about get around the device. I didn’t find the DTEK software complex to use. It was in fact useful for tweaking a few of my apps. As to how secure my phone is? *shrugs shoulders*
As for the camera, images are okay in good lighting but are a bit hit and miss in low/poor light. The battery life is disappointing but I can live with that – for now.
I have to say I quite like the BlackBerry DTEK50. It is the first Android phone I haven’t had to pull my hair out when trying to set it up. It was actually a breeze. Marshmallow is the best of the Android operating system till date. I look forward to seeing what Nougat will bring to the table.
Thoughtful. Pragmatic. People watcher. Professional troublemaker.