A Thorough Hands-On Review Of Priv, BlackBerry’s First Android Phone

We have earlier been informed that the ‘priv’ in BlackBerry Priv, the Canadian handset maker’s first Android phone, is a strong mixture of both privilege and privacy. Privilege on the side that the Priv is being very much touted as a flagship Android device as well as for a cost that drags it into battle against the iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S6s of the world.


Priv might take on the representation of being privative. Among the defining premium features are 5.4″ curved display in the likeness of the one Samsung just some time ago debuted on the S6 Edge, an 18 MP dual-flash camera coming along with optics ‘certified’ by Schneider-Kreuznach — very close to Nokia’s targeted focus on Carl Zeiss owing to its camera-focused flagships back in the day — as well as a slide out QWERTY keyboard more renowned for its physical feel. In face of this, Privacy tells us a lot about BlackBerry’s legacy in security and some of the privacy feature improvements it is likely bringing on board.

Well among this is switching on encryption by default, a fresh picture-based pass code that promises to safeguard against finger smudge trails and most likely key logging, as well as an app by BlackBerry with the name of DTEK which gives your device the enablement to a general security rating and impressively watch over stuffs like variations made to app permissions going forward.

On the other hand, following the use of the handset for some few days, ‘priv’ can rightly take up the identity of privative. The slide out keyboard rather feels awkwardly solid on the fingers as I soon realized that my hands were beginning to die of energy too fast than I expected. BlackBerry earned a strong reputation for boasting best-in-class QWERTY keyboards but then I must put in here that this one has the minus point from being a ‘slider’ and one that is rather “stitched” to an already very tall phone.

Holding the heavy and wide device while typing on the slide out keyboard had its own inconveniences I must admit and really it was quickly tiring. If we choose to compare here, the Priv has the weight of 192 grams if brought close against the iPhone 6 plus which comes at 172 grams.

The additional weight here can be traced down to it being the Priv’s built alongside an all-day 3410 mAh battery, which is rather commendable on an individual basis but then persists with a unique trade off if we move over to dexterity and general comfort. The following reservation I have here is with the keyboard, like most sliders preceding it, the top row of keys kind of seem little near to the extending edge just above it.

So as to make the Priv is as thin as it could be — though it is yet quite thick at 9.4mm, something that BlackBerry tries to make us believe introduces extra comfort as to holding it— the keys are as well seemingly flush with the device and so doesn’t have the promise of same travel as the BlackBerry Q10 or the Bold of yesteryear. Or on the least hand to the farthest distance I can pick my mind on.

Another place where I want to drag attention to here is the on-screen keyboard, there is no difference between this and that you could see on BlackBerry 10, well I see it brilliant, also mentioning its auto correction and word suggestions. Owing to this, I came to the reality that I was often sliding out the Priv’s physical keyboard, well this might be due to my previous attachment to the QWERTY until I had at last made the move over to an iPhone 5s.

On the last lap, the distance we come across between the physical keyboard and the top of the screen — where is the location of most Android apps’ vital on-screen buttons: indicates that one a time too many, you will find yourself moving your hand position to suit as you fly across the keys to screen, the strange exception here is you have oddly long fingers or even large hands. image

Well this is a small disappointment since I truly have that preference for the manner the physical keyboard on the Priv is touch enabled, this plays both the roles of a touchpad which you could use to quickly walk through lots and lots of email or with pace scroll web pages as well as several other documents.

You also have the ability to map particular keys to at once launch applications or even actions by means of a long-press. So if you going to make the choice of buying the Priv for its physical keyboard — and I am confident some people actually will — then is there any big difference between this and any another Android device? well very briefly, yes there. There are surely other separating factors you will come to like when you use.

Well speaking for myself here, I had that personal likeness for the manner in which the way BlackBerry has added in its BlackBerry Hub from BlackBerry 10, a one-entity inbox for every of your messages, as well as email accounts and Twitter DMs including interactions.

Now, you will be able to swipe to ‘snooze’ a message, making it float to the top of your in-box again at some future time, perhaps in two hours or so; and then on the other end, when you get to at a distinct location, say getting back to the office following your lunch.

Google’s recent mail client ‘Inbox’ boasts a closely identical feature, but however we could still applaud this addition to BlackBerry Hub. Very much added to this, you could swipe/pull down well inside the Hub message list so as to reach up a fast eyesight of up to 4 of your following meetings or calendar events, which is a nice and simple touch. It’s in the details where you could fall in love with the Priv more over time.


Gestures in BlackBerry 10 which have been something I have been missing — though not boasting same class, BlackBerry has yet introduced some of that operation to its debut Android phone. Swipe up from the bottom of the phone from anywhere and then you meet three tappable shortcuts which serves the function of quickly launching any of three apps.

The Priv also brings in one added taste here, a feature BlackBerry is tagging the productivity tab, as well as an on-screen tab sitting well along the screen’s curved edge to provide an ‘at a glance’ view of important info from BlackBerry Hub, Calendar, Task, and Contacts. Despite being a bit fiddly, it works fairly well earning its justification of that curved display.

After saying this, trying to reproduce BlackBerry 10’s ‘Peek’ feature, which enables you with full accessibility to BlackBerry Hub from just anywhere without restriction making use of a quick left to right swipe, could have been a better choice though.


Well I would not really keep any doubts that the move BlackBerry has tried their hands on here not just to give us a new premium as well as its first Android device to market — a big move push in itself — but majorly also one that brings in a delicious diversity quite special in a largely commoditised combo of Android devices coming ready at every price point you could think of.

The camera comes at the top of the range, also there is the shooting 4K, battery life is solid, it has the latest curved screen technology, as well as a speedy modern processor — I wouldn’t say it is a slouch. For this time when typing on glass is quite the convention, you wouldn’t be getting any more different than with a physical QWERTY, I can’t really say this would be a big attraction or otherwise turn a big distraction considering the tradeoffs that a slide out keyboard almost most times would bring along.

And in just a sweep, by jumping on to Android, BlackBerry has really made a solid solution to the company’s infamous ‘app problem’ — the deficiency of apps on BlackBerry 10 ranking preeminently as the predominant complaint wailing from past and existing customers, I did complain too. But then the company has taken further moves tweaking Android to introduce more security as well as privacy-minded out of the box even bringing over to the party some of the best apps and software features from BlackBerry 10 or at least gave them a working android identity. Both aspects we must do well to commend.

Nonetheless, as bold and daring as BlackBerry’s debut Android effort is, one fact that still remains is the Priv’s physical keyboard as this has the tendency to be almost outdated as I think there could be better options should I be scouring the market for a premium phone operating Google’s mobile OS.

Lastly brushing through my thoughts again (should BlackBerry be among my reading audience), I would easily choose an Android phone more of similar character to the BlackBerry Q10 or even the Classic but then slightly taller for the fullest compatibility of Android app. This is something I would buy even without thinking twice, and not only me though lots of blackberry users would too.

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