Update: We’ve updated our hands on BlackBerry DTEK50 review with some more findings as we put the handset through our in-depth review process. Full review will be live very soon!
The BlackBerry DTEK50 is the world’s most secure Android smartphone, or so says the Canadian firm. It’s certainly not a bad claim as concerns over personal security on mobile devices has never been higher, and the DTEK50 looks to play on that insecurity in people’s minds by offering solid specs with enhanced protection.
BlackBerry has fallen away dramatically from the days when its Curve and Bold handsets, with BBM at their hearts, ruled the mobile roost. Over the past four years the Canadian firm has seriously struggled to stay relevant in the ever accelerating smartphone world.
The rather awkward DTEK50 name – which comes from the DTEK security app which comes pre-installed on the handset and its big brother, the BlackBerry Priv – doesn’t do anything for the phone’s street appeal and gives a decidedly business tone from the offset.
Short on time? Check out our BlackBerry DTEK50 hands on video:
While BlackBerry declared the DTEK50 the world’s most secure smartphone, the truth is it has the same level of protection as the Priv – which means the firm actually has a pair of world-leading secure handsets.
The target market is mainly enterprise, but with a solid looking spec list and an attractive $299, £275 (around AU$400) price tag you can’t rule the BlackBerry DTEK50 out of the consumer market as it rubs shoulders with the OnePlus 3, Nexus 5X and Moto X Style.
Those looking for a solid, affordable smartphone with added security could well be in luck – and the demand for this type of device is on the up. Has BlackBerry stumbled upon a winning formula, or is it another stab in the dark?
The bold claim of “the world’s most secure Android smartphone” is going to come under quite a bit of scrutiny, but BlackBerry has a strong foundation for it with the DTEK50.
The firm has got its hands dirty from the word go, building in additional security at every level of hardware and software production and enhancing Android’s already robust defenses with its years of privacy and security knowhow and full data encryption of all your content.
That prevents thieves gaining access to your personal details such as photos, banking information and contacts.
To top it off, the BlackBerry DTEK50 (like the Priv) comes with the DTEK app pre-installed, which makes checking your phones security status, improving it and managing the permissions individual applications have super easy.
Don’t like the fact a particular application has access to your phone’s microphone for no good reason? You can easily revoke access to just that, without uninstalling the app.
Google releases a security patch update for its Android operating system every month, ensuring your phone is protected against the latest threats – although for many manufacturers it can take days, or even a few weeks to filter these patches to users.
Not with the DTEK50 though, as BlackBerry is promising same-day updates whenever Google pushes a new security patch – preventing hackers taking advantage of any newly highlighted vulnerabilities. That’s great news, and something we hope more firms will do going forward.
One surprising omission on “the world’s most secure Android smartphone” is a fingerprint scanner – something we’d expect to be a nailed on inclusion for an added layer of protection when it comes to mobile payments and unlocking the device.
Alas though, BlackBerry wants keep costs down on the DTEK50 so the finger scanner didn’t make the cut, and it feels like a missed opportunity to hammer home the security aspect of this phone.
Question marks are already being raised over the DTEK50’s bold security statement, with Samsung claiming its new Galaxy Note 7 is more secure thanks to its Knox platform.
This is likely to be an argument which rages on – but even if the DTEK50 isn’t the most secure phone in the world, it definitely has a whole host of defenses to protect you and your data.
Design and display
The BlackBerry DTEK50 isn’t a flagship device. It slides in under the keyboard-toting Priv in terms of spec and price, but with the removal of the iconic physical keys emerges a handset which will likely appeal to a much wider market.
It’s no secret that BlackBerry has failed to do anything special in the design department. The firm has confirmed it used an off the shelf reference device from manufacturer TCL and then tweaked the hardware and software to give it the BlackBerry look and feel.
In fact the DTEK50 is a modified Alcatel Idol 4. It may not be the most appealing phone around, but it means price can be kept low while still delivering on performance.
Getting into the design and the DTEK50 features a grippy soft-touch rear which gives the handset a slightly rugged feel in the hand.
It won’t be winning any awards for cutting edge design or premium appeal, but the metal frame feels solid and the manageable 147 x 72.5 x 7.4mm dimensions means it nestles nicely into the palm.
This is the thinnest BlackBerry ever, so if pocket bulge is a concern of yours the DTEK50 shouldn’t worry you and at 135g it’s also surprisingly light.
Spend an extra £54 ($100) though and you can bag yourself the supremely more premium OnePlus 3, which also has a stronger line up of specs – which takes the shine off the DTEK50’s offering a little.
Meanwhile the slightly cheaper (and older) Moto X Style has a similarly solid design with a touch more class about it.
The power/lock key resides on the left, while the volume rocker on the right is joined by a centralized round button which BlackBerry calls the Convenience Key. It’s reminiscent of Sony’s power/lock key on its Xperia devices and at first it’s a little confusing as it looks to be the more obvious power option.
Instead, this is a programmable button allowing you to access an oft used app, task or function of your choosing. If you find yourself constantly firing up Instagram to check your follower count, or forever diving into your email inbox, the action key provides a useful way of quickly accessing them.
During our time with the DTEK50 though, we found ourselves reaching for it a little too often for our liking when attempting to wake/lock the screen which was rather annoying.
Up front the 5.2-inch full HD screen offers a pixel density of 424ppi, producing bright and clear text and images. Considering the price tag of the DTEK50 it’s a very good offering.
Its LCD panel may not be quite as colorful as AMOLED panels, with hues looking a little more muted – but there’s very little to complain about here. Gaming looks great, videos are comfortable to watch and text is easy to read.