The "1-Minute" Review
- Slow shutter speed on camera
- Very poor low light photos
- Physical keyboard might be too small and flat for some users
BlackBerry used to be the biggest name in the smartphone market. That was until touch screen came along. Now it is ranked fifth in worldwide market shares. BlackBerry hopes to regain some momentum with the release of the Priv – their first smartphone that runs on Android. Staying true to their roots, the Priv comes with a physical keyboard that slides out from behind the screen. Experts were split on the keyboard with some finding the experience enjoyable while others describe it as too small to type on easily. Luckily, there is the option of a touch screen keyboard, which worked well for critics. Design-wise, BlackBerry opted for a glass-weave. While this provided experts with a good grip, they also noticed the back had a good amount of give when pushed.
On the front is the 5.4-inch curved AMOLED display, a size many experts find to be "just right" for viewing PDFs and presentations. It boasts a resolution of 2560 x 1440 for a pixel density of 540ppi. As expected, experts found the screen to be very crisp and sharp. They add colors were very rich and accurate. They were a bit disappointed with BlackBerry's choice to go with a curved screen as it ended up distorting edges of apps and taking away from their overall experience.
While not top-of-the-line, the Priv does come with a 1.8GHz hexa-core processor and 3GB of RAM. On paper, performance was on par with other Android phones like the Nexus 5X. For the most part reviewers did not experience any stutters or lag though a few did run into the odd slow-downs in certain apps and the occasional missed input on the touch screen. It managed to last experts a full day as well thanks to the 3,410mAh battery. It is also comes equipped with 32GB of internal storage, which is expandable via microSD slot. And since this runs Android OS, users have access to all of the apps available in the Google Play store and can even turn off the BlackBerry features for a full Android experience.
The biggest feature of the Priv is its security (the Priv stands for privacy). BlackBerry has augmented Android's privacy and security capabilities by bring in their own Root of Trust – a process that utilizes cryptographic keys into the hardware. They then added verified boot and secure bootchain and the new DTEK warning system app to rate each security feature. It also utilizes the picture password featured on BlackBerry 10, which allows users to unlock the phone by placing a finger on the screen and moving across a grid to input the pre-selected numbers. While experts appreciated the extra level of security, they found the picture password required almost too precise.
Armed with an 18MP sensor with optical image stabilization and dual-LED flash, experts agree the Priv's camera is far and away better than any found on its predecessors. With that said, they add it cannot compete with the likes of the Nexus 5X or iPhone. In good lighting situations, they were able to take fairly detailed and accurate pictures. Their low light pictures, on the other hand, tended to be grainy with very low-contrast and details. Another issue some critics had was with the slow speed of the shutter. It would often take a full second between the time they pressed the shutter to the time the camera took the shot and saved it to their gallery, with HDR mode taking up to five seconds.
Reviews are mixed for the BlackBerry Priv. On the one hand experts appreciate the changes BlackBerry made in order to remain competitive. On the other hand, many feel like they fell short. Ars Technica states, "Other than a subpar keyboard and camera, everything on the Priv is merely passable…Maybe BlackBerry will convince some enterprise customers to buy a few new Privs, but for normal consumers, there is nothing compelling here." The Verge adds, "This thing is chock-full of really good ideas, badly executed…" On the other hand Crackberry states, "It's a solid device that brings a lot together in a pretty compelling package…"
What the Critics Are Saying...
Prices (Where to Buy)
BlackBerry released the Priv on November 16, 2015.
BlackBerry Priv prices will vary depending on retailer, age, special offers and whether or not it's purchased with a service plan. If purchased with a 2 year service contract for example, you would likely pay much less for the phone itself up front. BlackBerry's suggested retail price is $699.00. You can compare Priv prices from around the web here on The Informr.
We've got you covered! Download a free PDF copy of the BlackBerry Priv user manual here.
BlackBerry backs up the Priv with a 1 Year parts & labour warranty.
If your Priv has problems and is still within its warranty period, you could contact BlackBerry support or the retailer you purchased the phone from. You'll find BlackBerry's contact information here. If your phone is off warranty and needs repair for a physical problem such as a broken screen or bad battery, you should visit an authorized service centre or a local phone repair shop. You can also connect with others in The Informr Community Forum to find and share answers to questions.