BlackBerry DTEK50 Review
BlackBerry is still in the game and it’s using Android to get them back on its feet. If the Priv is way too much for you to enjoy a BlackBerry phone, then the DTEK50 we have here wants to address that concern. Let’s find out in this review if BlackBerry’s latest and most affordable Android device offering is something the company can be proud of.
Design and Construction
It’s got a 5.2-inch IPS LCD up front topped with a scratch-resistant glass and oleophobic coating to keep those nasty fingerprint marks away. The screen is flanked by the front-facing stereo speakers. There’s also the 8-megapixel front camera and the soft LED flash that also doubles as the notification light.
The handset sports a chamfered aluminum frame with the volume rocker and a circular convenience key for quick shortcuts. We first thought that this key is the power button as it can be easily mistaken for it. Neatly hidden just below the convenience key is the tray for the SIM and microSD cards.
The actual power button is located on its left-hand side. It’s positioned towards near the upper corner. We do find the button hard to reach and somewhat confusing with the convenience key.
Up top is the 3.5mm jack with the secondary noise-cancelling microphone while the bottom end has the microUSB port and the main microphone. Antenna bands are also located both at the top and bottom of the phone.
Despite sharing the same body with the Idol 4, the DTEK50 has a rubberized and textured back panel rather than a shiny glass. It reminds us of the BlackBerry Curve 9300 we had before. There’s the main 13-megapixel shooter with its dual-tone LED flash at the upper-left corner while the BlackBerry logo shines in the middle.
The handset doesn’t feel cheap on hand but it’s light to hold. The lack of heft on the device makes it enjoyable to use for a long period. Also, the overall build and construction is sturdy with no noticeable creaks and whatnot.
Display and Multimedia
The DTEK50 sports a 5.2-inch display which is an IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels or a crispy 424ppi pixel density. Having a full HD resolution on a smaller display delivers a sharper visual treat for the handset. There are no problems with viewing angles and overall quality of the display.
As mentioned, the device has front-facing stereo speakers which are incredibly loud. It’s surprising to hear this level of volume from a phone this thin. Clarity is not sacrificed but it somehow lacks bass, and that’s something we totally understand. You can definitely watch videos on the go without having the need to plug in headphones, if so, BlackBerry has included one.
OS, Apps, and UI
Running on this BlackBerry is Android 6.0 Marshmallow and not any a home-baked BlackBerry software. The overall UI of the DTEK50 is similar to most Android devices in the market with a few minor tweaks. It has a typical home screen with widgets and app shortcuts plus an app slightly different app drawer.
The software aspect is where will users get the best of both worlds of BlackBerry and Android. You get the BlackBerry Hub which is a collation of your messaging needs from email to instant messages and BlackBerry’s security features. On top of that, you’ll get to enjoy a whole suite of apps from the Play Store and Google services as well.
As of writing, there’s still no words if the DTEK50 will have a taste of Android Nougat but with the Marshmallow onboard, it’s already a featured device. You’ll get around 8GB of free storage after updating all the installed apps and there’s room for expansion through a microSD card.
There’s a 13-megapixel shooter with a dual-tone LED flash at the back and an 8-megapixel selfie camera in the front. The LED notification doubles as the front-facing flash so you can fill some light to your selfies when needed.
The main shooter is a capable camera. Captured stills are details in good lighting. Software sharpening is surprisingly not obtrusive to the final result. When things get dark, the expected soft edges show and it renders the stills to be less usable. The front-facing camera has a wide-angle lens to fit yourself in the frame easily and at 8-megapixels, it’s more than enough for selfies.
There’s no 4K option but you can record 1080p at 60fps with the rear camera. The lack of image stabilization results to a shaky footage but with more stable hands, you’ll get better clips.
Performance and Benchmarks
It doesn’t have the high-end specs of the Priv but having mid-range internals is not bad either, especially when it’s not asking for too much cash. There’s an octa-core chipset ticking inside namely the Snapdragon 617 clocked at 1.7GHz. With that, you’re also getting the Adreno 407 GPU to handle graphics and an ample 3GB of RAM.
General performance is a breeze and the optimizations by BlackBerry is at work here. App launch time is a bit slower compared to flagships but that’s already expected. Gaming performance is also good for most games in medium to high settings. NBA 2K16 though needs to be toned down to be able to get smoother gameplay.
Here are the benchmark scores of the DTEK 50. They may seem low but that doesn’t exactly reflect its everyday performance.
- AnTuTu Benchmark v6.2.1 – 36519
- PCMark – 4357 (Work)
- Quadrant Standard – 25266
- Vellamo – 2321 (Chrome), 1108 (Metal), 1745 (Multicore)
- 3DMark – 351 (Slingshot 3.1), 619 (Slingshot 3.0)
Call Quality and Connectivity
Being a BlackBerry branded phone, one would expect a quality call experience and the DTEK50 doesn’t disappoint on that. With a loud earpiece and noise-cancelling microphone, making a call with the handset is not a chore. Although we’d like to see a bit of change with the calling UI as it lacks some additions like recording, note taking, and a few more from a full productivity handset.
Aside from calling, all the radios you’ll need to connect to various airwaves on air are on the DTEK50. It’s got LTE with support for a lot of bands including the 700MHz that has been the talk of the town a month ago, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, and even NFC for one-touch pairing.
A 2,610mAh battery is sealed on the handset which is a bit low for our liking. We tested it out using our traditional video loop test using a 1080p clip with the phone’s brightness set to half and volume as well through standard earphones and the result is underwhelming at just 6 hours and 40 minutes.
With the PCMark battery test, it was able to last for 7 hours and 18 minutes. If you’re used to the long battery life of previous BlackBerry devices, you’re not getting it here.
The BlackBerry DTEK50 is currently the cheapest offering from the brand. It’s got decent specs with a few misses for power users but its reduced price tag from its flagship, the Priv, is significant. It’s not officially available in the Philippines yet but Widget City is offering it at Php13,500. See listing here.
The lack of a fingerprint scanner is a bit of a concern since it’s already above the 10k mark. If you don’t mind that, then the DTEK50 is more than adequate to be an everyday device that won’t disappoint.
BlackBerry DTEK50 specs:
5.2-inch Full HD LTPS IPS display @ 1080 x 1920, 424ppi
1.7GHz Octa-Core Qualcomm MSM8952 Snapdragon 617
16GB internal storage
13 MP f/2.0 rear PDAF camera with dual-tone LED flash
8MP front camera with LED Flash
4G LTE, 3G HSPA+
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual-band)
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
2,610mAh Li-Ion battery
147 x 72.5 x 7.4 mm
- Sturdy build
- Good display
- Great overall performance
- An affordable BlackBerry device
- A bit light for our liking
- Additional BlackBerry features are not skin deep
- Lacks a fingerprint scanner
- Average battery life