BlackBerry has produced an enterprise flagship with the DTEK60 and it goes to show the power of partnership, as the TCL-made device not only caters to BlackBerry faithful but also comes in at a price that is very agreeable given the high-end specs. If you’re looking for an economical, big all-touch device that has reliability, security and productivity at the forefront, look no further. The real story here is that BlackBerry has top of the line specs for under $500 dollars. That means that whether your business is mobile game testing or managing a team of sales people – this device will satisfy your every need.
DTEK60 by BlackBerry
The world's third BlackBerry Secure smartphone powered by Android
DTEK60 does not look unlike the DTEK50. For onlookers, that means a blend of aluminum and glass that’s manufactured well. The design is unique without being polarizing, which is to say that it doesn’t take any risks with the all-touch form factor. Instead, there are dual-sided speakers top and bottom, a modest bezel and a beautiful AMOLED screen which gently curves at the edges giving a waterfall feel. From a design perspective, this device is quality – up there with the design aesthetic of Samsung, Huawai and LG without question. In the hand, you can tell this is a premium device as the metal edges and accents along the smoothly chamfered edge really meld the metal and glass into a unibody device that feels solid while also being extremely comfortable to hold. It’s also not bad to look at. The back has a BlackBerry logo and an ‘Earth Silver’ backplate which is covered in glass.
The 5.5’ scratch and smudge resistant screen comes in at 2560 x 1440 Quad HD resolution – it looks gorgeous with good viewing angles and sharp colors. If the color balance is not to your liking, you can adjust it to be warmer or cooler in the display settings. You’ll need to turn the brightness up when outside as the screen can be hard to see. Untrue blacks in videos can sometimes looks blotchy, but overall the viewing experience is great. This screen is AMOLED which means rich deep blacks and punchy colors. It’s very pixel dense at 534 PPI. Overall, the large screen coupled with the resolution really works well for reading emails, playing games and general web browsing.
TCL has outfitted the DTEK60 with a 21MP rear camera, which is a few steps up from the 13MP camera on the DTEK50 and the 18MP camera on the Priv. As any BlackBerry user will attest to, cameras have always been a weakness and sore spot for past, non-Android, BlackBerry devices. However, that all changed with the DTEK50 and now DTEK60 models. As with the DTEK50, the DTEK60 has the same 8MP front-facing camera and also has a flash. However, the flash tends to make one look blueish when in a low light environment. The camera supports 4K at 30fps in video mode and has the ability to capture slow mo video, however, no time-lapse feature is included at this time. The camera captures stunning photos with rich colors, although it does have issues maintaining focus at times. Manual settings are also included and offer a wide range of adjustments to be made to suit one’s shooting needs.
RECEPTION / CALL QUALITY / SOUND:
First and foremost, the DTEK60 is a phone, and as it should be, call quality has been superb. The placement of the speakers on the front and back mean that you will have no issues hearing your call when in speakerphone mode. The ringer volume seems loud enough, and a notification is displayed on the screen letting you know you have an incoming call. Call quality using the ear piece is just as good with the sound being crisp and clear. We experienced no dropped calls on the AT&T network in our region. Bluetooth connects to vehicle audio as well for those with hands-free systems in their vehicles.
With a Snapdragon 820 and 4 GB of RAM along with 32 GB of on-board storage, the DTEK60 is one snappy device that can handle pretty much anything that you can throw at it. The device had an AnTuTu score of 145,767 which ranked just below the iPhone7. Where the DTEK50 has a paltry 16 GB of storage, the DTEK60 doubles this with 32 GB of storage and both include an SD card slot, supporting cards up to 2TB. 64 GB of internal storage would have been nice as 32 GB fills up quickly with app and games. Speaking of games, with the Adreno 530 GPU, gameplay has been smooth and enjoyable. Games like Dead Trigger and Frontline Commando played smoothly with no dropped frames noticed.
This is no BlackBerry 10 OS. Android feels cumbersome at times, and the UI, while simple, is not intuitive or elegant, though Material Design looks great. BlackBerry-made Android apps are gorgeous, but Android itself seems like a lazy regurgitation of mobile paradigms. It’s cramped with corners and settings and overlays that get in the way of real work. BlackBerry has done an honorable job adding in features such as Pop-Up Widgets to peek into apps, and the Productivity Edge to give a semblance of the Hub gesture from BlackBerry 10. There are swipe gestures here as well to access favored apps. All the BlackBerry experiences are opt-in and user defined, which is a smart way to leave the user in control of the otherwise stock Android experience.
The DTEK60 has a 3000 mAh battery which is a step up from the DTEK50’s 2610 mAh battery, but less than the Priv’s 3410 mAh battery. The first day using the device, we were able to squeeze 23 hours of usage out of the battery with moderate use. After almost a month with the phone, we’re getting roughly 18-20 hours usage with roughly five hours SOT (‘Screen On’ Time). The standard charger takes just about 2.5 hours to fully charge the phone, whereas the travel charger included with the bundle can charge the device fully in about one hour. Heavy power users might need to top off using the included USB Type-C charger sometime during the day, but for the moderate to average user, you should be able to get by all day on a single charge. The device supports Quick Charge 3.0 if the user is looking for even faster charging.
The DTEK60 utilizes the Android operating system – so that means you’ll have all the apps that your heart can desire. Although the DTEK60 uses the Android operating system, that’s not why someone buys one. Buying a DTEK60 gets you monthly security updates directly from BlackBerry as well as the peace of mind knowing that BlackBerry has taken the extra time and effort to secure the OS down to the kernel level. Software is the new BlackBerry, and as such, you get the benefits of Hub+ services, BlackBerry Launcher, and the standard fair of BlackBerry apps such as Password Keeper, Notes, Tasks, and Calendar.
SPEAKERS & AUDIO:
Just like the DTEK50, the DTEK60 sports speaker grills on both the front AND the back of the device. Contrary to popular belief, the phone does not have 4 speakers but instead, it has 2 speakers with 4 speaker grills. This means that you can listen to your music, videos, or calls whether your phone is facing up or facing down. Now, the loudness of the speakers is very subjective but for all intents and purposes, the speakers are plenty loud and you should have no issue hearing your favorite song or your caller. The included Waves Max Audio app acts as an equalizer and also allows you to adjust the sound quality on the phone. The only caveat is that you cannot use it with headphones plugged in. The 3.5mm headphone jack is still present on the device and is situated at the top left-hand side.
BlackBerry added convenience key support to the nice button on the right side of the device. Don’t mistake it for a power button; this button can be programmed to launch any app on the device or mapped to a specific task supported in the BlackBerry Launcher. Similar to assigning a shortcut to a letter on the PRIV keyboard, this convenience key supports launching apps or specific tasks such as ‘Set an Alarm’ and ‘Compose Email.’ There’s a full list of shortcuts supported by the BlackBerry Launcher. Setting it for a frequently used game or an app like the BlackBerry Hub can also increase productivity. You could even set this key to lock the phone in a pinch.
There are some very minor and subtle differences between the version of Android Marshmallow on the PRIV and the version on the DTEK60. On the DTEK60, some features the FM Radio are not supported.. When you long press the power button, the menu for Lock, Power and Restart is different (read: more refined) than PRIVs software. Also, you can manually edit the notifications pane and add modules like NFC, Hotpost and Sound without having to deep dive into developer options. DTEK60 does support Picture Password and a true, ambient Battery Edge display. DTEK60 comes preloaded with the MAXX Waves Audio app which allows you to tailor your audio experience on the device.
DTEK DEVICE MONITORING:
DTEK60 comes preloaded with an app called DTEK from which it derived its name. DTEK detects security threats at multiple layers on the device. It allows you to monitor specific applications against device permissions. Now, Android Marshmallow already asks the users as permissions are accessed, but being able to monitor that decision once it’s made puts the user in more control over their privacy. At the chip level, DTEK validates that the devices hardware hasn’t been tampered with and that you’re running a genuine version of BlackBerry’s secure Android distribution. DTEK came to form with the Marshmallow update because it can now turn off and on permissions right from the app, giving users the ability to act on the information DTEK supplies.
DTEK60 CAMERA SAMPLES:
DTEK60 takes the proven all touch form factor and packs it with class leading specifications. Build quality and performance align with other flagship smartphones from other vendors but the DTEK60 stands out among these for it’s fantastic starting price and clear enterprise appeal.
BlackBerry software while much refined from initial efforts still lacks some bells and whistles. More unique offerings like Hub, DTEK and Productivity Edge need to be expanded on to help the software align with the capabilities of BlackBerry 10 and further cement the Android offering from BlackBerry.
Reception & Call Quality
DTEK60 SCORES 90/100
Layout | Photography | Review by James Nieves, Kylie Monet
Edited by Alex Smith