BlackBerry, is seriously considering moving out of the mobile industry as their smartphones have only been used by individuals to a) transport them out of the warehouse and b) transport them back to the warehouse. Nobody is buying BlackBerry-made smartphones. The BlackBerry Priv is a means to change that. But can it?
Some say that BlackBerry’s Mobile demise is of their own fault – if only they would have switched to Android like the rest of the manufacturers, they would have been a key player in the industry. However, with the inclusion of Google’s OS on BlackBerry, can the company continue manufacturing mobile phones? Or is it an era that has long passed for the Canadian company?
BlackBerry Priv Review
It mixes the very best of BlackBerry and Android in a mediocre-looking device that’s comfortable to hold. With a decent camera and a keyboard included, it quickly becomes a sought after smartphone.
However, it costs a whopping $669 and the keyboard is really meh.
BlackBerry Priv Hardware
The inclusion of a sliding, physical keyboard is what makes the Priv a BlackBerry smartphone. Design-wise, it’s quite the average smartphone. It has a matte black body, and silver buttons sprinkled everywhere.
It rests comfortably in the palm of your hand, even though it’s 9.4mm thick. Compared to the Galaxy S6 Edge and its 7mm thickness, it’s quite the hog. Yet, the company has tapered the edges of the smartphone in order to mirror the display. This makes it look a lot thinner than the Priv actually is.
BlackBerry is known for manufacturing devices that can take a beating and then some, and still work as the day you bought them. The Priv doesn’t stray away. Considering that I was expecting it to be flimsy and weak, mainly due to its sliding keyboard, it’s quite the opposite. It’s sturdy, and the Priv’s woven glass fiber rear and Corning Gorilla Glass 4 screen coating, makes it a smartphone that could last the average 2-year contractual mark.
Gazing at the smartphones front, you’ll notice the BlackBerry logo embroidered neatly below the earpiece. Just under it, the 5.43-inch display can be seen. The forward speakers and primary microphone can be be found at the chin of the device. Turning it to its top side, you’ll also find a microSD slot and the SIM tray – the first accepts cards up to 2TB.
At the bottom, the smartphone houses a micro-USB 2.0 port.
On the left side, a sleep/wake button sits tightly, and on the right the volume – up, down; and mute buttons are built in.
Its 147 mm tall, but if you unravel the keyboard it will stand at 184mm. The keyboard is a disappointment. In the process of cramming into it every single letter, BlackBerry didn’t stop to think if it should in the first place. If you have sausage-like fingers like me, then you’ll have to really get your eye in to type a message. More often than not, I found myself typing complete gibberish.
To be honest, BlackBerry has only two strengths now – its keyboard-manufacturing proficiency and device security. Why, for the love of God, didn’t they add a classic keyboard instead of this nasty abomination is just dumbfounding.
This new keyboard is a disappointment because it seems like it’s been redesigned solely for bragging rights – weak ones, at its best.
BlackBerry Priv Display, Sound
Yet, its screen is quite the catch. The 5.43-inch AMOLED display can output 2,560 x 1,440 resolution. It has a pixel density of 540 ppi, which makes it breath down on Samsung’s S6 Edge 577 ppi neck, and slightly ahead of LG’s G4 – 538 ppi.
Because it has AMOLED, it means that the display can yield warm and bright colours. Full HD 1080p movies have deep blacks and full of life colours. Basically, everything looks stunning and scrumptious.
In the audio-department, the Priv doesn’t back away from a night of dancing. It’s a beast. Yet, it clearly doesn’t compete with the HTC BoomSound tech – as a matter of fact, what smartphone does?
It has enough sound-juice for a spontaneous dance party
BlackBerry Priv Software
The BlackBerry Priv comes with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop built-in. However, it’s a customized version of Google’s OS. In order to add more layers of security, and brandish the BlackBerry logo on top without worrying that its reputation will suffer, the company has a) hardened the Linux kernel, b) added a cryptographic key, and c) built-in a Dtek security app that monitors user activity.
Even though it ships with Lollipop, the BlackBerry Priv is more than capable of running Google’s newest Android Marshmallow. The company notes that within the next six months, an update will roll out for the Priv.
The company has made minor, but highly noticeable changes here and there. Take the default home screen. You can find it at the left pane. Also, you can continuously scroll the app tray and by swiping to the side, the user will be given entry to widgets and shortcuts – which are customizable.
Even though, one might say, that BlackBerry’s way of organizing an UI is flawed – and the lack of profits can back this up; the Canadian company still sticks to its guns. Yes, it clearly depends on preferences, and I don’t agree with their decision.
This is coming from someone that is completely on Huawei’s side and their questionable decision of removing the app tray from their smartphones.
A much-appreciated feature is the Dtek security suite. It’s like a guard dog that keeps your yard safe – read, data. When I first set up my BlackBerry Priv, I skipped over the option of adding a security pin just because I didn’t have time for that. Dtek started appearing over and over again telling me that I made a boo-boo, and I should definitely add a security layer.
I introduced 1234 – the most used and easiest pass to crack in all the world.
Dtek alerted me that the security level of my Priv went from weak to excellent.
Yikes Blackberry. Yikes.
BlackBerry Priv Performance, Battery Life
The Priv is a power-house. It comes with a 1.8GHZ hexa-core of the 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 descent. It’s paired with 3 gigs of RAM and 32 gigs of internal storage.
It fights along with the big boys, as in iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6. In my not-so-scientific test – putting the three head to head in a trial by gaming; I didn’t experience any lag whatsoever. All of my devices, including the Priv, managed to smoothly run Dead Trigger 2 and Asphalt 8.
Yet, and I have no idea why this is happening, the BlackBerry Priv seems to experience issues in the call quality department. The company is known for having this kind of issues, but, considering that they have added 11 antennas inside the smartphone, I thought the problems were fixed. You see, I called some buddies of mine for a romantic-talk about the latest Fargo episode, and they noted that my voice was a little bit muffled and coming from afar.
Still, conversations took place and we understood each other.
The Blackberry Priv houses a non-removable ginormous 3,410mAh battery. The company claims that it can last about 22 hours of mixed use – and they are right. Real-day use, you can go a day and a half without the need to hook up a charger.
The Priv has an 18-megapixel sensor built-in. It’s not your ordinary one, however. It’s a Schneider-Kreuznach imaging sensor. It has phase-detect auto focus, optical image stabilization, and it can easily record 4K vids at 30 frames per second. It’s the company’s first smartphone to house such a top-notch camera sensor.
Yet, the front-facing 2-megapixel sensor can be used for fairly decent selfies. It can also capture 720p videos. Worth noting is that the Priv has the ability to 2x digital zoom in order to take panoramic selfies. Never have I ever, but I’m quite intrigued.
It won’t replace your DSLR, but it’s a nice step-up from the average sub two mp digits BlackBerry smartphones.
BlackBerry Priv Verdict
John Chen, CEO of BlackBerry, has announced that the mobile division will shut down if it doesn’t turn a profit by 2016. However, it’s simply not possible.
Not because the BlackBerry Priv is a useless phone, far from it. But nowadays, it’s incredibly hard for an Android manufacturer to actually make a decent profit out of their smartphone.
Even though we have all been yelling for the past 4 years at BlackBerry to turn to Android, there is absolutely no guarantee that the company could have turned a profit in the first place.
Going back to the Priv, it’s quite the phone. It costs way too much for what it has to offer – and Amazon even lists it at $1100; but it’s a good first Android try. I would love if BlackBerry’s mobile division gets a chance to make a Priv sequel, but I don’t see that happening.