BlackBerry DTEK60 review: The best enterprise flagship, priced at just $499

  • Editors' rating
    8.8 Outstanding
  • Average user rating
    7.0

Pros

  • High quality fit and finish
  • Productive BlackBerry Hub and software
  • Nearly pure Android experience
  • Fast monthly security updates
  • Dual stereo speakers

Cons

  • No water resistance
  • Average battery life
  • Back glass scratches easily

A couple of months ago when BlackBerry announced it was ending internal hardware development, I read many stories stating there would be no more BlackBerry hardware and thought the company would never release another BlackBerry-branded phone. There was some misunderstanding and confusion with those reports and with the BlackBerry DTEK60 we see BlackBerry branding on a high end smartphone launched at a very reasonable price.

While BlackBerry will no longer be designing the hardware from the ground up, it did work closely with TCL to modify a reference design for its customers. I purchased a DTEK60 early last week and after about 10 days I am so impressed with the hardware and software that I plan to keep the device as my primary Android smartphone.

Previous BlackBerry flagships came at a high price with the BlackBerry Priv launching at $699 last year. The new BlackBerry DTEK60 is available now for just $499 and is one of the least expensive flagship phones you can purchase today, while offering enhanced productivity and efficiency elements in a sleek form factor.

Specifications

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 2.15 GHz quad-core
  • Display: 5.5 inch 2560 x 1440 pixels resolution AMOLED, 534 ppi
  • Operating system: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32 GB internal with microSD card storage for up to 2TB
  • Cameras: 21 megapixel f/2.0 camera and 8 megapixel front facing f/2.2 camera with flash
  • Extras: Dual stereo speakers, convenience button
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging
  • Dimensions: 153.3 x 75.3 x 5.19 mm and 136 grams

If you look at the specs above, it matches what we see today from other Android flagships in nearly every way. Water resistance would be great and make the DTEK60 even more compelling for the enterprise, but at $499 it is still an excellent choice.

Hardware

My first thought when I took the BlackBerry DTEK60 out of the box was that Samsung must have released a BlackBerry device. The DTEK60 has front and rear glass panels with a metal frame and dual beveled edges between the glass panels. It looks and feels awesome in the hand and I'm having a tough time believing this is a BlackBerry device that only costs $500.

Advertising photos may not do this device justice as it truly is an elegant looking classy device that is perfect for the office. You get that traditional BlackBerry red LED and a handful of high end specifications in an awesome looking device.

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The back glass panel is interesting in that it rests on a dark gray back with the BlackBerry logo embedded in it. Unlike the fingerprint magnet of the Galaxy S7 and other glass back phones, the back of the DTEK60 stays virtually free of fingerprints with regular usage. After just a few days, there were several scratches along the lower half of the back. These were actually deep enough to be felt with a finger run across the scratches. If you buy the DTEK60, I recommend using the soft shell back or another case to prevent scratching.

There is a 5.5 inch 2K display on the front with minimal side bezels and reasonable top and bottom bezels. There are dual stereo speakers at the extreme top and bottom of the phone with speaker grill openings on the front and back. Thus, you can easily hear audio content with the phone face up or face down.

I played the same song on the stereo speakers of the iPhone 7 Plus, Huawei Mate 9, and BlackBerry DTEK60. The DTEK60 was louder and clearer than either of these two other flagship phones.

There's an eight megapixel selfie shooter above the display with a dedicated LED flash for lighting up those selfies.

The display has a bit of curvature in the glass on either side, 2.5D, with an S7 Edge-esque button that can be swiped from either the right or left side of the phone. This Productivity Tab gives you quick access to your calendar, unread messages, tasks, and favorite contacts and serves as one element of efficiency on the DTEK60.

The power button and SIM card/microSD card slot are found on the upper left. The volume button is found on the upper right with a round convenience key centered on the right side. You can customize the purpose of this button and I have mine set to launch Google Now.

Similar to the HTC 10, you can also select the option to have your microSD storage card function as internal storage, called adoptable storage. You can also just choose to use it as most other Androids with external storage for media and other large files.

There's a USB Type-C port off to the right side of the bottom with a microphone opening on the left side. A standard 3.5mm headphone jack and another mic opening are found on the top.

There is a 21 megapixel Sony IMX230 Exmor sensor on the back with a dual LED flash adjacent to it. Centered below the camera is a rear fingerprint scanner, a first for a BlackBerry Android device and something it needed to advertise security.

I took some comparison photos with the BlackBerry DTEK60, Apple iPhone 7 Plus, and Huawei Mate 9 and put the full resolution images in a Flickr folder. The DTEK60 did well, but it's not going to challenge the Google Pixel or Galaxy S7 as the best camera available.

The 3,000 mAh battery has been getting me through most of a day, but when I take lots of photos and spend time with the display on it is not lasting me as long as the iPhone 7 Plus or Huawei Mate 9. Thankfully, the DTEK60 supports the standard Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 fast charging technology to top off quickly.

I'm using the DTEK60 on T-Mobile and have full WiFi Calling and VoLTE support right out of the box too.

Software

The BlackBerry DTEK60 is the second BlackBerry-branded handset that was produced from a reference design. The DTEK60 is based on the TCL 950, but with a 2K display instead of a 1080p variant and 32GB of internal storage instead of 64GB. The special sauce that is added comes in the form of BlackBerry software integrated into the Android operating system.

One reason I initially purchased a Lenovo Moto Z was due to the stock Android implementation. Thankfully, we see that same stock Android experience on the DTEK60. There is no carrier bloatware as this is a GSM unlocked phone, but there are some BlackBerry apps that are provided to add value to the experience.

BlackBerry includes the BlackBerry Keyboard, BlackBerry Hub, BlackBerry Calendar, Contacts by BlackBerry, Notes by BlackBerry, Tasks by BlackBerry, BlackBerry Camera, BBM, DTEK by BlackBerry, BlackBerry Device Search, BlackBerry Launcher, BlackBerry Services, BlackBerry Help, BlackBerry Password Keeper, Microsoft exFAT Technology for BlackBerry, and BlackBerry Content Transfer.

The BlackBerry DTEK60 launched with Android Marshmallow and I trust that it will eventually received the Android 7.0 Nougat update as well. BlackBerry hasn't yet provided a timeline for updating the DTEK60.

Like the Apple iPhone, Google Pixel, and Moto Z, the BlackBerry DTEK60 supports visual voicemail right in the dialer app. You no longer need to download and install your carrier visual voicemail application.

Security and productivity features

A major benefit of having a stock Android device with BlackBerry controlling the customization experience is that BlackBerry can provide updates quickly. To date, BlackBerry has an phenomenal record of providing monthly Android security updates and even though I just bought the phone last week I received the November Android security update yesterday.

Security and productivity features advertised by BlackBerry include:

  • Rapid Security Patching: BlackBerry has a record of being the quickest to deliver security patches, setting the bar in incident response and patch management to protect your device from malicious threats.
  • DTEK by BlackBerry App: Enables users to automatically monitor their OS and apps to know when their privacy could be at risk and to take action to improve it. The DTEK app also monitors applications and notifies you when someone is: taking pictures or videos without your knowledge, turning your microphone on, sending a text message, or accessing your contacts or location.
  • Hardware Root of Trust: BlackBerry uses a proprietary technique that adds security from the start, allowing for the tracking, verification and provisioning of the DTEK60.
  • Secure Boot Process: Starting with the root of trust, each stage of DTEK60's secure boot chain must first verify that the next component is fully intact before proceeding, ensuring your device has not been tampered with since the last restart.
  • Android OS hardening: BlackBerry provides additional security patches, improves upon Android's native Address Space Layout Randomization and reduces the number of system applications and services running with elevated permissions. This makes it more difficult for attackers to compromise the OS.
  • FIPS 140-2 Compliant Full Disk Encryption: Protects your private information, like pictures or bank information, from being stolen if you were to lose your phone.
  • Android for Work and Google Play for Work: Allows for fast, simple and secure integration with an enterprise environment as well as easy access to numerous rich business and IT-managed apps.
  • Full Enterprise Mobility Management Support: DTEK60 supports BlackBerry's powerful suite of EMM applications and secure productivity solutions, including: WatchDox by BlackBerry for secure file-sharing, Good Work for business-class email and collaboration tools, Strong Authentication by BlackBerry as a VPN solution, SecuSUITE for Enterprise for secure voice and instant messaging communication, BBM Protected for encrypted messaging and BES12 for secure cross-platform management.

Pricing and competition

The GSM unlocked BlackBerry DTEK60 is available for $499 USD ($650 CDN, €579 and £475). The 32GB 5.5 inch iPhone 7 Plus and Google Pixel XL both start at $769 and have no additional storage capacity. The Moto Z and HTC 10 are both priced at $699, but the HTC 10 only has a 5.2 inch display.

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

With my misunderstanding that BlackBerry was done with hardware, I thought the BlackBerry Passport was going to be my last BlackBerry purchase. It turns out that BlackBerry is still working with hardware partners to bring new devices to market with BlackBerry focusing on an enhanced software experience to provide security and productivity to customers. The DTEK60 packs in flagship specs, enhanced BlackBerry services, and is priced $200 to $300 less than competing 5.5 inch smartphones.

The DTEK60 would be nearly perfect with some kind of water resistance, even a nano coating to prevent damage from splashes. Hopefully we see this capability in a future BlackBerry handset.

The device is a pleasure to hold, the speakers are loud and clear, the BlackBerry keyboard is fast and accurate, and the BlackBerry Hub helps me maintain a centralized communications center for better efficiency in my daily routine.

For $499, I can recommend the DTEK60 just based on its specifications alone. Add in the BlackBerry software, BlackBerry committment and track record of fast security updates, and compelling dual glass and metal frame hardware design and it's easy to see why the BlackBerry DTEK60 is a winner.

Specifications

Phone Features
Phone Functions Speakerphone, call timer, conference call, flight mode, vibrating alert
Sensors Accelerometer, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, magnetometer, gyro sensor, hall sensor
Additional Features E-911 compliant, Android Beam, notification LED, Tap and pay, Tap and go
Security Devices Fingerprint reader
General
SAR Value 1.59 W/kg (simultaneous), 1.17 W/kg (body) / 0.36 W/kg (head)
Integrated Components Rear-facing camera, front-facing camera, audio player, voice recorder, navigation
Cellular
Technology WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM
Type smartphone (Android OS)
Integrated Components audio player, front-facing camera, navigation, rear-facing camera, voice recorder
Navigation A-GPS, BeiDou, GLONASS, GPS
Band WCDMA (UMTS) / GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Mobile Broadband Generation 4G
Phone Form Factor touch
Service Provider not specified
Operating System Family Android
Operating System Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
Intelligent Assistant Google Now
SIM Card Type nano SIM
SIM Card Slot Qty single-SIM
Input Device Multi-touch, capacitive
Miscellaneous
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyro sensor, hall sensor, magnetometer, proximity sensor
Color Category black
Messaging & Internet
Messaging Services BlackBerry Messenger, Google+ Hangouts, MMS, SMS
Supported Social Networks and Blogs Yes
Processor
Type QUALCOMM Snapdragon 820
Manufacturer QUALCOMM
Processor Core Qty quad-core
64-bit Architecture Yes
Display
Technology AMOLED
Display Resolution 2560 x 1440 pixels
Color Depth 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Pixel Density (ppi) 534
Diagonal Size 5.5 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 14 cm
Smartphone Diagonal Size 5.5 in
Protection scratch resistant glass
Color Support color
Communications
Data Transmission EDGE, FDD-LTE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSPA+, HSUPA, LTE
4G LTE Band Band 1, Band 12, Band 17, Band 2, Band 20, Band 29, Band 3, Band 4, Band 5, Band 7
Data Transmission Operating Frequency LTE 700/800/850/1700/1800/1900/2100/2300/2600
Wireless Interface Bluetooth 4.2, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, NFC
Media Player
Supported Digital Video Standards MKV, VC-1, AVI, MOV, XviD, MPEG-4, ASF, DivX, 3GP, H.264, H.263, WebM, 3G2, VP8, VP9, H.265
Supported Digital Audio Standards WAV, AAC, AMR, MP3, FLAC, XMF, AAC +, OGG, WMV (Sound), MXMF, AWB, IMY, RTTTL, RTX
Multimedia
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 530
Memory
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDXC - up to 2 TB
Environmental Parameters
Min Operating Temperature 32 °F
Max Operating Temperature 95 °F
Battery
Run Time Details Mixed usage: up to 24 hrs
Talk: up to 1560 min
Standby: up to 336 hrs
Playback (audio): up to 88 hrs
Playback (video): up to 17 hrs
Capacity 3000 mAh
Digital Camera
Special Effects HDR, Live Filters, Multi-frame Low Light Enhancement
Header
Brand BlackBerry
Product Line BlackBerry
Model DTEK60
Packaged Quantity 1
CE Input Device
Type touch sensitive screen (multi-touch)
Touchscreen Technology capacitive
Features
Sensors accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyro sensor, hall sensor, magnetometer, proximity sensor
Phone Functions call timer, conference call, flight mode, speakerphone, vibrating alert
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Additional Features Android Beam, E-911 compliant, Tap and go, Tap and pay, notification LED
Digital Player (Recorder)
Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC, RTX, WAV, WMV (Sound), XMF, AMR, AWB, FLAC, IMY, MP3, MXMF, OGG, RTTTL
Supported Digital Video Standards 3G2, 3GP, MPEG-4, VC-1, VP8, VP9, WebM, XviD, ASF, AVI, DivX, H.263, H.264, H.265, MKV, MOV
RAM
Installed Size 4 GB
Flash Memory
Internal Memory Capacity 32 GB
Max Supported Size 2 TB
Supported Flash Memory Cards microSDXC
Graphics System
Graphics Accelerator Qualcomm ADRENO 530
Optical Sensor
Sensor Resolution 21 pixels
Front-facing Camera
Sensor Resolution 8 Megapixel
Lens Aperture f/2.2
Focus Adjustment focus free
Features video image stabilisation
Dimensions & Weight
Width 3 in
Depth 0.3 in
Height 6.1 in
Weight 5.82 oz

Topics: Mobility, BlackBerry, Reviews, Smartphones

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Where To Buy

BlackBerry DTEK60

Part Number: BBA100-1 BLACK

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