|First released||July 26, 2016|
Alcatel Idol 4
|Dimensions||147 mm (5.8 in) H
72.5 mm (2.85 in) W
7.4 mm (0.29 in) D
|Weight||135 g (4.76 oz)|
|Operating system||Android 6.0.1 "Marshmallow"|
|System on chip||Qualcomm Snapdragon 617|
|CPU||Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53
Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53
|Memory||3 GB RAM|
|Storage||16 GB internal storage|
|Removable storage||Up to 2 TB microSDXC|
|Battery||2610 mAh Li-Ion non-removable battery|
|Data inputs||Multi-touch touchscreen|
|Rear camera||13 megapixels, 1080p video capture, autofocus, Digital Image Stabilization|
|Front camera||8 megapixels, 1080p video capture|
Ambient light sensor
BlackBerry DTEK50 is an Android smartphone co-developed and distributed by BlackBerry Limited, and manufactured by TCL, being a modified and rebranded variant of TCL's Alcatel Idol 4. Unveiled during a press conference held on July 26, 2016, it is BlackBerry's second Android device after the BlackBerry Priv slider. As with the Priv, the DTEK50's Android operating system is customized with features inspired by those seen on BlackBerry's in-house operating systems, and with hardware and software security enhancements (such as the titular DTEK software).
The DTEK50 received mixed reviews, with critics noting the quality of the phone's display and BlackBerry's software enhancements, but felt that BlackBerry's claimed security enhancements were redundant to security features included in the base Android OS, and that the device was not sufficiently competitive in comparison to other mid-range devices in its class.
The DTEK50 is manufactured by TCL, is similar in design to the Alcatel Idol 4, although with a rubber backing instead of glass. It is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 system-on-chip with 3 GB of RAM, and features a 5.2-inch 1080p IPS LCD display. The device includes 16 GB of internal storage, expandable via microSD card, and a 2610 mAh battery. The device features a programmable "convenience key" on its bezel, which can be used for different features. It features a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with digital image stabilization and a dual-LED flash, an 84-degree wide-angle f/2.0 lens, and phase detection auto focus as well as an 8-megapixel front-facing camera with an f/2.2 aperture and flash.
The DTEK50 ships with Android 6.0 "Marshmallow", customized with additional features and BlackBerry-developed apps, similarly to the BlackBerry Priv, such as BlackBerry Hub, DTEK—which serves as a dashboard for notifying users of the security and privacy status of their device, and pop-up widgets. BlackBerry has committed to releasing regular security updates to the DTEK50's Android software.
Engadget positioned the DTEK50 as a "fleet device" meant to be purchased in bulk for adoption by a company's employees due to its low price and focus on security. The device was described as being "respectably well built and even sort of handsome (in an understated sort of way", and being thin and light yet not feeling "cheap". The DTEK50's display was considered to be "pretty damned good" for a mid-range device and only "fell short" in comparison to the similarly-positioned ZTE Axon 7 (which features a 1440p display). The convenience key was panned for not having as many supported features as the equivalent on the Idol 4. The lack of a fingerprint reader (especially given the device's wider focus on security) and inconsistent battery life was also panned. In conclusion, it was argued that the Moto G4 Plus was a better value at the same price point due to its larger amount of storage and inclusion of a fingerprint reader, and that "as a ploy to appeal to those crucial business customers, it's brilliant. For them, the DTEK50 is a solid, not-very-expensive option with the security chops to put IT paranoiacs at ease. As a phone for regular people, though, the DTEK50 is a much a tougher sell."
The Verge felt that the DTEK50's display was "pretty nice for a $300 phone", but the overall hardware was described as being of average specifications. The DTEK50's Android software was praised for maintaining the user experience introduced by the Priv, but with fewer bugs and additional refinements. The camera was appraised as being decent "under ideal conditions", and poor in low-light situations. The phone's performance and battery life was also criticized. In regards to security, it was noted that Android "Marshmallow" had already implemented security features such as mandatory device encryption and finer control of permission grants, but that the DTEK software helped to promote privacy best practices, and that BlackBerry had consistently delivered Android's monthly security patches to its devices. However, the DTEK50 was panned for not including a fingerprint reader despite this focus on security. In conclusion, it was argued that while BlackBerry had "identified a market need and theoretically could do a great job filling it" with its security-oriented focus, the DTEK50 "fails to stand out in a competitive field of midrange smartphones."
CNET similarly pointed out that many of BlackBerry's claimed security enhancements "seem to either be placebos or functions already found on stock Android devices", such as device encryption (mandatory on Marshmallow) and boot verification (which is strictly enforced on Android Nougat, but with notifications on Marshmallow), and that the device as shipped was vulnerable to the Quadrooter exploit (which was patched on unlocked models at the time of the review).