Experts agree that BlackBerry took the best decision in years when it created its first Android handset, the BlackBerry Priv. The Canadian company demonstrates that it can deliver an attractive, capable, yet somewhat overpriced device.

Build Talk

BlackBerry knows that for some users, external keyboards are essential in daily business, and BlackBerry Priv caters to that segment. The company claims that after testing the sliding keyboard by doing a million slides, the process still felt seamless.

A pleasant surprise for users who never tried an external keyboard is that it functions as a capacitive touchpad as well. This allows you to scroll on the display by sliding your fingers over the keyboard.

Not everyone was equally enthusiastic about the QWERTY sliding keyboard, though.

"This one suffers from being a 'slider' and one that is attached to an already very tall candy bar phone. Holding the heavy and wide device while typing on the slide out keyboard feels clunky and I found my hands tiring more quickly than I expected," Steve O'Hear from Tech Crunch says.

Even if it comes with a keyboard, the Priv qualifies for the title of thin phablet. It measures 0.37-in in depth and weighs 6.8 ounces. This means it is as heavy as the iPhone 6S Plus, the only difference being that the Apple phablet gets a bigger screen and is 0.079 inches thicker.

The general build, as well as the materials, make the BlackBerry Priv an example of quality simple design. The dual-curved display is a sizeable 5.4-inch, 2,560 x 1,440p OLED which looks polished and somewhat reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+.

"Overall, the Priv is a pleasure to hold, in part because of grippy, slightly rubberized coating on the woven glass back," Lance Ulanoff , Chief Correspondent and Editor-at-Large at Mashable, observes.

Specs Talk

The chipset inside Priv is a hexa-core Snapdragon 808 that clocks at 1.4 GHz. Numbers from Geekbench show decent processing power (1,132 for single-core and 3,460 for multi-core), but it has a long way to go before reaching the iPhone 6S Plus (2,534 and 4,405) and the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ (1,500 and 5,037).

An image stabilizer turns on by default when you take pictures with any of the cameras. For dynamic video recordings, the phone lets you shoot in 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second. For the image stabilization to function for the video capture, you need to fiddle a bit with the advanced settings.

The 18MP camera on the rear of the BlackBerry Priv does a fair job, yet it falls short of spectacular. In dim light, at least, the sensor gives grainier images than some rival devices. The selfie cam situated on the front of the handset is a measly 2MP. It is likely that the Canadian OEM decided that its fans are busy making profit rather than selfies.

The initial storage is 32GB, but thanks to a microSD slot, you can expand the Priv's memory to pretty much the largest microSD card you can get. A micro USB charging and data port is provided and the smartphone also supports wireless charging via Qi. The only complaint was that the standard package contains no contactless charging base.

Audio, meanwhile, is apparently a strong point for BlackBerry's first Android smartphone.

"Another remarkably well implemented part of the BlackBerry Priv is the bottom speaker. This front facing speaker [...]easily competes with HTC's BoomSound speakers," Android Central's Russell Holly, points out.

All reviews praise the exquisite battery life on the BlackBerry Priv. For a device that is just as slim as others of its class, the Canadian gadget can last notably longer (read: two days) after a single charge.

Software Talk

"The biggest fault with the Priv by far is that it doesn't come with Marshmallow," Emil Protalinski from Venture Beat affirms. The reviewer explains that this verdict comes from the fact that other handsets ship with Android 6.0 pre-installed.

The company explained why it did not assign the latest Android OS to the device from the get go, and promised to provide a Marshmallow update for BlackBerry Priv sometime next year.

"Priv" stands for Privacy, and BlackBerry made a point out of keeping users' data secure. The manufacturer underlines that it focused a lot of energy into ensuring the data confidentiality of its customers. BlackBerry announced that it implemented cryptographic keys during production and that it hardened the Linux kernel of the Priv.

BlackBerry Priv owners can monitor the flow of data in and out of their devices through DTEK, a software piece that measures the general security of their smartphone and makes them aware in real time when apps behave suspiciously.

"However, for a device so concerned with privacy and security, BlackBerry Priv is completely devoid of cutting-edge login options like a fingerprint sensor, facial recognition or iris scanning," Ulanoff underlines.

One aspect all reviews agreed upon was that the Priv is destined for an upscale audience, and the prohibitive price is a big minus for the first BlackBerry Android device.

"At $700, the 32GB Priv with its Snapdragon 808 costs as much as a 128GB Nexus 6P with a Snapdragon 810," David Ruddock from Android Police points out.  

Conclusion

Overall, BlackBerry Priv offers a classy design, a wonderful QWERTY sliding keyboard, extensive battery life and shielding privacy. On the other hand, the price is unjustified, the main camera is modest, and the device tends to warm up under heavy use.

So if you're a BlackBerry loyalist that welcomes the potential of Android OS and really need to type "War and Peace" texts on your handset, BlackBerry Priv could just be your friend. A $700 friend, no less.

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