Plenty of praise was lavished on BlackBerry's first Android phone, the Priv, when it debuted in late 2015. In fact, in his review, Russell Holly called it one of the best phones of that year:
This is absolutely one of the best phones to be released this year, and while BlackBerry still has to demonstrate it can keep its promises when it comes to software updates this is already an exceptional experience. It's only going to get better from here.
That other part about how BlackBerry still has to prove it can follow through with software updates? Yeah, that's why we're here today.
In a podcast with UTB Blogs lat week, BlackBerry GM Alex Thurber mentioned that the Priv wouldn't be upgraded from Marshmallow to Nougat.
The phone debuted with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop in November 2015, and was upgraded to Marshmallow the following April, but that is where it will stay. Many people, given BlackBerry's exceptional record in keeping the Priv and its other Android-based phones updated with security patches, thought Nougat was an inevitability for the Priv, but that's not the case.
According to Thurber, it's very difficult getting all the vendors on board for such a big update; Qualcomm has famously made it difficult for the Snapdragon 808 and 810 series to receive updates past Marshmallow (the Priv runs on a Snapdragon 808).
Thurber also cast doubt on whether the DTEK50 and DTEK60 would receive updates past Marshmallow, too, saying they were reference products by TCL to test the waters for what would inevitably be the KEYone, which will be upgraded to Oreo after launching with Nougat earlier this year.
Priv owners will obviously be disappointed with this news, but it's not surprising; it likely doesn't have the install base needed to really incentivize such a huge engineering effort, and BlackBerry has since moved on from its hardware ambitions. At the same time, given that the Priv is such a security-focused handset, and there were plenty of improvements to the OS with Nougat, it's going to be difficult to recommend the phone, despite the continuation of security updates for the foreseeable future.
What are your thoughts on the Priv's final stand? Anyone still happily using the device, or have you since upgraded to the KEYone?