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Our Verdict

If privacy and security are crucial when it comes to selecting a smartphone the DTEK50 will be right up your street, but for those just looking for solid performance at a reasonable price there are better options out there.

For

  • Excellent security and privacy
  • Reasonable price for the specs
  • Decent full HD display

Against

  • Really poor battery life
  • Cheap design
  • Patchy performance

The BlackBerry DTEK50 is the world's most secure Android smartphone.

So says the Canadian firm at least. It's a compelling claim too, as concern over personal security on mobile devices has never been higher – and the DTEK50 looks to play on that insecurity in people's minds by offering solid specs with enhanced protection.

The rather awkward DTEK50 name – taken from the DTEK security app which is pre-installed on the handset and its big brother, the BlackBerry Priv – doesn't do anything for the phone's appeal and gives it a decidedly business tone from the outset.

And wondering where the 50 comes from? It's a continuation of BlackBerry's numbering scheme – Q5, Q10, Z10, Z30 – and it's deemed a jump to 50 the next logical step.

While BlackBerry calls the DTEK50 the world's most secure smartphone, the truth is that it has the same level of protection as the Priv – which means the firm actually has a pair of world-leading secure handsets.

Short on time? Check out our BlackBerry DTEK50 hands-on video:

The BlackBerry DTEK50 price is an attractive $299, (£275, around AU$400) considering its solid-looking spec list, and the phone finds itself rubbing shoulders with the OnePlus 3, Nexus 5X and Moto X Style as it makes a case for your pocket.

The BlackBerry DTEK50 release date has been and gone – it went on sale back in July 2016 – and the phone is now widely available online and in some stores in key territories around the world, including the US and UK.

Those looking for a solid, affordable smartphone with added security could well be in luck – and the demand for this type of device is on the up.

BlackBerry DTEK50 review

Super security

  • Security built in from the ground up, with full data encryption
  • Handy DTEK app pre-installed to give you complete control over privacy

The bold claim of "the world's most secure Android smartphone" is always going to come under quite a bit of scrutiny, but BlackBerry has a strong case with the DTEK50.

The firm has built in additional security at every level of hardware production, and enhanced Android's already robust defenses with its years of privacy and security know-how, as well as adding full data encryption of all your content.

That encryption prevents thieves gaining access to your personal details such as photos, banking information, emails and contacts.

BlackBerry DTEK50 review

To top it off the BlackBerry DTEK50 (like the Priv) comes with the DTEK app pre-installed, which makes checking and improving your phone's security status, and managing the permissions individual applications have, super-easy.

Don't like the fact that a particular application has access to your phone's microphone for no good reason? You can easily revoke access to just the mic, without uninstalling the app.

For its part Google releases a security patch update for its Android operating system every month, ensuring your phone is protected against the latest threats – but for many manufacturers it usually takes a few weeks to filter these patches to users.

BlackBerry DTEK50 review

Not with the DTEK50 though, as BlackBerry promises same-day updates whenever Google pushes a security patch – preventing hackers taking advantage of any newly-highlighted vulnerabilities. That's great news, and something we hope more firms will adopt going forward.

One surprising omission on "the world's most secure Android smartphone" is a fingerprint scanner – something we'd expect to be a nailed-on inclusion for an added layer of protection when it comes to mobile payments and unlocking the device.

Alas, though, BlackBerry wanted to keep costs down on the DTEK50, so the finger scanner didn't make the cut, but it feels like a missed opportunity to hammer home the security aspect of this phone.

BlackBerry DTEK50 review

Question marks are already being raised over the DTEK50's security claim, with Samsung claiming its new Galaxy Note 7 – complete with both finger and iris scanners – is more secure, thanks to its Knox platform.

This is likely to be an argument that rages on – but even if the DTEK50 isn't the most secure phone, it has a whole host of defenses to protect you and your data.

Design

  • BlackBerry's thinnest-ever phone, but it's the same mid-range chassis as the Alcatel Idol 4
  • Practical, not premium, and easy to hold with a grippy soft-touch rear

The BlackBerry DTEK50 isn't a flagship device. It slides in below the keyboard-toting Priv in spec and price, but with the removal of the iconic physical keys emerges a handset which will likely appeal to a much wider market.

It's no secret that BlackBerry has failed to do anything special in the design department. The firm has confirmed it used an off-the-shelf reference device from manufacturer TCL, and then tweaked the hardware and software to give it the BlackBerry look and feel.

In fact, the DTEK50 is a modified Alcatel Idol 4. It may not be the most appealing phone around, but it means BlackBerry can keep costs down while still delivering on performance.

BlackBerry DTEK50 review

Getting into the design, the DTEK50 features a grippy, soft-touch plastic rear which gives the handset a slightly rugged feel in the hand.

It won't be winning any awards for cutting-edge design or premium appeal, but the metal frame feels solid, and the manageable 147 x 72.5 x 7.4mm dimensions means it nestles nicely into the palm.

This is the thinnest BlackBerry ever, so if pocket bulge is a concern of yours the DTEK50 shouldn't worry you, and at 135g it's also surprisingly light.

Spend just a bit more, though, and you can bag yourself the supremely more premium OnePlus 3, which also has a stronger lineup of specs – which takes the shine off the DTEK50's offering a little.

BlackBerry DTEK50 review

Meanwhile the slightly cheaper (and older) Moto X Style has a similarly solid design with a touch more class about it.

The power/lock key resides on the left, while the volume rocker on the right is joined by a centralized round button, which BlackBerry calls the Convenience Key. It's reminiscent of Sony's power/lock key on its Xperia devices, and at first it's a little confusing, as it looks to be the more obvious power option.

Instead, this is a programmable button that enables you to access an oft-used app, task or function of your choosing. If you find yourself constantly firing up Instagram to check your follower count, or regularly diving into your email inbox, the Convenience Key provides a useful way of quickly accessing that feature.

However, we found ourselves reaching for this button a little too often for our liking when attempting to wake/lock the screen during our time with the DTEK50, which was rather annoying.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Phones and Tablets Deputy Editor

John (Twitter, Google+) got his first phone aged 12 and since then he's been fixated on all things mobile, churning his way through a multitude of handsets, tablets and operating systems. Signalling his arrival at TechRadar by becoming a Guinness World Record holder in his first week (for the highest score on Super Mario Bros using a giant controller), John hasn't looked back since.