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BlackBerry still gets physical

BlackBerry’s new KEY2 begs the question: Does the physical smartphone keyboard have a place in 2018? BRYAN TURNER has a few answers.



BlackBerry, a name that was once synonymous with smartphones, has made yet another comeback with a refreshed KEY handset. The new device appears aimed at appeasing those who want to use a physical smartphone keyboard again.

The most important enhancement of the KEY2 is dramatically improved ergonomics. Compared to the KEYone, there is a slightly increased space between the bottom of the phone and the bottom row of keys, which makes the space bar more reachable. The overall weight distribution also seems to be improved, with the top half of the smartphone being lighter than the bottom. This makes it feel more balanced when typing, making for a dramatic improvement from the KEYone. 

The iconic BlackBerry keyboard underwent a slight redesign from the KEYone, making it more BlackBerry Bold-like than before. Scrolling through on-screen event using the capacitive touch keyboard is a lot more responsive than one would expect. In fact, users were often impressed with how accurate it was when they tried it out. Flick-typing is still a function of the keyboard, but can be turned off if one accidentally triggers suggested words while typing. The fingerprint sensor remains in the keyboard spacebar, as with the KEYone.

The metal body of the KEY2 in silver is something to admire, giving the smartphone a very premium aesthetic. The back is textured black plastic with the silver BlackBerry logo has remained unchanged since the late 2000s. 

The hardware keys are placed on the right side of the phone, starting with the volume rocker at the top, followed by the lock/wake button, then by a custom “Convenience Key” which can be programmed to quickly access specific apps. The left side features a Micro-SIM and SD card slot; the latter can be expanded up to 256GB. The top holds the 3.5mm headphone jack while the bottom sports a symmetrical speaker/microphone grid and a USB Type C port.

Portrait mode photograph with the BlackBerry KEY2. (Picture: Bryan Turner)

One of the most interesting redesigns is the 12+12MP dual camera setup, which proved to take superb portrait mode photos compared to other options in the mid-to-high-range smartphone market. The video recording proved to be good at shooting 4K videos at 60 frames per second. That being said, a huge disappointment was the lack of ability to deal with low-light, as it consistently delivered grainy, blurry photos in night-time situations.

The screen has not changed much from the KEYone: a 4.5 inch full HD display includes touch navigations keys, placed neatly between the keyboard and screen. The display colours are good but the 3:2 aspect ratio is a little weird, to say the least. This creates little black bars above and below YouTube videos, which wouldn’t happen on a typical 16:9 smartphone screen. Losing screen space is one of the sacrifices of having a physical keyboard.

BlackBerry’s software claims to use one of the most secure flavours of Android on the market. At first glance, BlackBerry has skinned very little, leaving a lot of the aesthetic as vanilla Android as possible. But, when looking deeper, one finds motifs of “professional BlackBerry design”. BlackBerry DTEK, software included with the BlackBerry, routinely scans and keeps the user informed about what apps are doing and what they are accessing. This proved to be quite an eye-opener in terms of how much an app can access on one’s phone.

Overall, the KEY2 is a smartphone for the nostalgic business person who misses a physical keyboard and doesn’t use the device for video media.


Here is 2019’s tech

From AI to flexible displays, this is the tech that will shape 2019, writes CY KIM, MD of LG SA



2018 was incredibly exciting for the technology sector which has seen myriad advancements. These include the fundamentals of artificial intelligence (AI) being established, robots helping around the house and consumer electronic innovations such as TVs that are so thin, they might be mistaken for windows, or paintings.

2019 promises to be another significant year as people’s attitudes are changing and technology becomes embedded in our lives. Smart electronics manufacturers will ensure their plans for the future match evolving consumer needs with suitable technology.

We take a look at the biggest innovations for 2019 from AI to lightning-fast internet speeds and flexible viewing surfaces, and we shed some light on how these evolving technologies will impact on how we live and work.

AI will come of age

AI has experienced a marked increase in investments and according to Forbes, 80% of enterprises are investing in AI while 30% are planning to expand their AI investments in the next three years. It’s estimated that during 2017, venture, corporate and seed investors put about $3.6-billion into AI and machine learning companies.

This investment trend has given rise to innovation in deep learning products that have the potential to change the world for the better.

Yes, AI has been around since the 1950s, but its consumer benefits weren’t visible until recently and 2019 will be the year when AI starts to really take off and become a necessity, not just in the home, but in every facet of our lives.

The potential of AI is endless as this technology goes into everything from small watches to cars and even gigantic, connected smart cities. AI is also starting to find its way into TVs, washing machines, refrigerators, speakers, mobile phones and even air cons as products adapt to human behaviour.

Lightning-fast internet speeds

Faster internet speeds enable quicker response times for business tools that we all rely on to get the job done. It will increase the efficiency of workers and will provide reliable communication tools for companies that rely on remote workers.

Given that the so-called gig economy has grown exponentially in recent years, the expectation is that the evolving workforce will contain a higher percentage of employees, or contractors who do not work in a central office.

5G has the potential to change the world the way the internet did a few decades ago. The fifth generation of wireless technology will take internet connectivity to a new level as the internet of things (IoT), will bring about the potential for everything to be connected to everything.

However, 5G is not just about faster internet speeds. It will create new possibilities in numerous sectors, including medicine, transportation and manufacturing.

A smarter world through IoT and AI isn’t possible without 5G’s speed and capacity as the system is able to carry large numbers of connections simultaneously, and is therefore crucial to the development of smart cities, autonomous cars and smart homes.

Life-enriching smart technology

Much like technological innovations, consumer habits and preferences are changing drastically when it comes to home appliances and particularly, home entertainment.

Most consumers believe that advancements in home entertainment tech is life-enriching and that their life is better with the latest tech at their fingertips as it allows them to stay indoors and enjoy quality time with friends and family.

The value of home entertainment tech lies in how it allows loved ones to share experiences, thereby bringing them closer together, particularly during big events such as major sporting events and holiday celebrations.

The potential of flexible viewing surfaces will not only change home entertainment, but also marketing techniques in shopping malls, city centres and shop fronts. With the ability to curve around any environment, this technology creates the perfect platform for signage and consumer engagement that stands out from the crowd.

LG Electronics is an established market leader in innovation and has already started to incorporate these futuristic technologies into its products, which are designed to make consumers lives more convenient. We will continue to release amazing products that utilise smart tech to connect with consumers while staying ahead of the evolutionary curve.

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AI will power IoT

A simple gesture. A world built from accessible assets that drive human convenience and interaction. This is the future that’s powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), two of the planet’s hottest topic trends right now for a very good reason. They work, says PHATHIZWE MALINGA, managing director of SqwidNet.



They are also the fuel driving digital transformation in 2019. These are the technologies revolutionising performance, process and productivity. They are also transforming industry challenges across agriculture, retail, health and the public sector and are set to continue on this path well into 2019.

IoT has become the central nervous system of technology, allowing users to make intelligent decisions without feeling overwhelmed by choice or technology. Its ability to make life easier on every level – business, consumer, public sector – is the next step of the IoT evolution as it improves quality of life using AI and machine learning to analyse past behaviour and the insights it gleans to change the future.

This is the vision of the perfect IoT and AI future. The two technologies so intertwined and connected that they are influencing one another’s growth, development and adoption. IoT provides the ability to generate data from the changing circumstances of an asset and the infrastructure required to transport that data to where it can be accessed and analysed. Considering the sheer volume of data generated, it is impossible for a human being to analyse it at the speed required for real-time decision making. And this is why AI has become so important.

Today, it is possible to write code that can read the data generated by IoT and identify meaningful patterns at the right speed. This code can also be written in such a way that it can learn from the results it found the last time it ran. It is code that can learn, an algorithm that can self-educate. In this way, AI requires the power of IoT to generate the data it needs to learn and IoT needs AI to ensure that this data can be made meaningful, in time.

Over the next six to 12 months, it is very likely that the potential of IoT will see numerous small players emerge across all industries. They will be focused on servicing those who have yet to experience the full benefits of IoT and they will use technology to deliver solutions that are just ‘good enough’. This could potentially see the more established players being disrupted but most will likely be using the same technology to innovate and to create solutions that don’t just meet customer expectations but transcend them.  Of course, there will be some companies that will remain complacent and they will be the ones battling for customer attention out on the IoT playing field with the small, fresh players.

While on the topic of the customer, the next year is likely to introduce a lot more variety and scalability. The consistent drop in the cost of technology will allow for more choice in solution and capability and this will have a knock-on effect with regards to quality of life and the choices customers make when it comes to solution and service provider.

On the business frontier, the growth of IoT and AI offer an interesting bouquet of choices and opportunities. They allow for investment into solutions that generate better insights that, in turn, generate better products and services. Organisations that ignore this potential or think they can sidle on past what IoT and AI bring to the business are likely to be the ones that are left behind. It’s a cliché for a reason. A single look back at the companies that have emerged as big players in industries previously perceived as impenetrable proves the point. Innovation isn’t optional, it’s an essential part of business DNA and both IoT and AI are critical parts of the ability to innovate at speed, with relevance, and on time.

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