The Blackberry Priv is the latest phone created by the Canadian company, Blackberry, and has shifted its focus from its once in-house operating system BB10 based on QNX to the already popular Android operating system in a move that is seen by many as a last resort to save its handset business or the company itself.
The latest product from Blackberry debuted in late 2015, was given the name Priv to show its focus on Privacy and Privilege. The Priv is based on an ARM 808 hexacore processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage with a microSD card slot capable of reading up to 2TB cards. The rear camera is a 18 Megapixel Schneider-Kreuznach with a 2 Megapixel camera front facing camera. The factory unlocked version of the phone, model STV100-1, has the added function of being able to wirelessly charge the phone whereas the carrier based models do not have this feature.
The Priv shipped with Android Lollipop (5.1.1) and an upgrade to Marshmellow (6) should be coming early this year as Blackberry enhances the security of the Android OS for its phones.
The phone features a vertical sliding keyboard; which has not been seen since the failed launch of the Blackberry Torch, oh so long ago. The phone also features a AMOLED dual-curved screen like the Nexus 6P and features a 2K resolution at 541 PPI, which is a higher resolution than the iPhone’s 6S IPS LCD screen with 1080P resolution.
While keeping with Blackberry tradition, the Priv contains media control buttons for volume and to mute on the right side of the phone and on the opposite side the power button. The headphone jack and the micro-USB ports are located at the bottom of the phone.
Performance and Software
Blackberry Hub was one of the pinnacle applications in BB10 and it has come back with the Priv. The Hub, is the centralized location of where all your communications would be whether it be texts, BBM, appointments or email, it will be readily accessible and could reply straight from the hub without the need of say opening twitter or Gmail to reply to an email.
With the Android version of the Hub, while still a nifty piece of software; has been somewhat watered down. In this version, when clicking on a notification whether it be email, Facebook, etc., it will open up your default program and you can reply from there.
Contacts from Blackberry has also been watered down since moving to Android. With the BB10 version, it would automatically pull information from Facebook, LinkedIn and a few other media sites the information and link say phone number and LinkedIn information as well as say Facebook into the contact’s information. With the Android version, most of the information has to be manually entered.
What we see from Blackberry and continuing onto its privacy stance is DTEK. This software gives you an overall snapshot of how secure your phone is and if it’s less secure, it give you an idea of what program might be leaking your information. It will give you stats on say how many times an app request your location (it’s scary) and also a Google map of when and where it was requested (see below). DTEK does not let you modify an app’s permissions to block what you don’t want it to access.
Given that this is Blackberry’s first foray into Android, I believe they’ve released a great product and has almost the same specs as the Nexus 6P. I’ve enjoyed the extra touches that Blackberry has added to its first Android phone but some who are die-hard BB10 fans might feel let down that some of the apps we’ve loved are now half-baked.
I find myself switching between using the keyboard and touch-type depending on what I’m doing and have gotten used to the keyboard after a few weeks of ownership. The keyboard experience is good but is not as good as the Blackberry Bold and we have to understand if Blackberry had to incorporate bigger keys then the phone would have to increase in size of the phone.
Blackberry was quick to address the issues of overheating and sluggishness that the first batches had with software updates and overall, I’m very impressed with this phone.
Hopefully we will see vast improvements once Marshmellow comes to the Priv.