So how exactly does the DTEK50 differ from last year’s Priv aside from the much lower price? Hardware-wise, it’s mostly a downgrade on all fronts. This is a BlackBerry that doesn’t feel very BlackBerry, for starters — probably because it’s not manufactured by BlackBerry at all. Instead, the DTEK50 is made by TCL and its design is nearly identical to that of the Alcatel Idol 4. Gone is the physical keyboard, perhaps the one defining trait that really calls out to BlackBerry’s customers. Instead, this is your everyday slab of a touchscreen smartphone. The only real change BlackBerry made to the aesthetics was swapping out the Idol 4’s glass back for a rubberized, textured finish. It was the right call, making the phone easy to confidently grip and avoiding any ugly fingerprints whatsoever. Less flashy, but it fits in with this phone’s boring-but-sturdy look.
Hardware that’s nice enough on the outside, but underwhelming inside
Everywhere else, it’s a straight clone of the Alcatel. Some good. Some bad. There’s a 5.2-inch 1080p display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, 3GB of RAM, and 13-megapixel camera. You’ve got a paltry 16GB of built-in storage, but thankfully that’s expandable with a microSD card. I think my favorite thing about this hardware is the speaker setup; like the Idol 4, this BlackBerry has stereo, front-facing speakers on both the front and back of the device, so you’ll hear the DTEK50 just fine whether it’s right-side up or face down on a table. (The audio isn’t particularly rich or full, though.) The screen is also rather nice for a $300 phone; it’s not the most vivid display around, but colors are accurate and viewing angles are perfectly adequate.
After that, the hardware gets pretty meh; the notification LED is nice to have, but it only flashes white, so customization options are rather limited. That’s a small detail BlackBerry’s old customers might miss. The “convenience key” button midway down the right side of the DTEK50 can be set up as a shortcut for any app or actions like composing a text / email, but it won’t work (or even wake the phone) when the screen is off. And the camera is about what you’d expect from a phone at this price point. It’ll capture decent photos under ideal conditions, but quality can unravel at night and indoors. Throw enough Instagram filters on the resulting photos and maybe they’ll turn into something you can live with, but this camera just isn’t very good.