Five things to know about the BlackBerry Priv

BlackBerry Priv
BlackBerry Priv

Close to the top of the list of things a lot of people who talk about smartphones all day have was probably something about BlackBerry never making a good Android phone, and today that is being crossed of all around the world. The BlackBerry Priv is here, and it's got a lot of folks seriously questioning the need for a physical keyboard on their phone again after having given it up a while back. At the same time, it's encouraging current BlackBerry users to consider a world outside of BB10, which is cool for everyone.

If you're among those on the fence about adding a BlackBerry Priv to your arsenal, we've put together a short list of things you need to know in order to help that decision along.

Five things to know about the BlackBerry Priv

The keyboard is BlackBerry-level amazing

Priv

If you've been an Android user for a while, or if you didn't start using smartphones until the release of the G1 or Nexus One, there's a good chance you don't know what it is like to type on a BlackBerry keyboard. Android phones have had keyboards before, but very few of them were BlackBerry-level keyboards. It's an entirely unique experience, one that BlackBerry protects with everything they have.

The keys are specially shaped so you can type quickly without worrying about mashing multiple buttons, the backlight is high quality, and on recent models the entire keyboard doubles as a trackpad for quick interactions with the phone. It's what happens when you keep working on your keyboard long after the competition has moved on to all glass all the time, and the difference is amazing. Typing for long stretches is more comfortable on the Priv than on any other phone we've used in a long, long time.

The rest of the phone is pretty good too

BlackBerry Priv

If you're the kind of person who gets excited by a specs sheet, the BlackBerry Priv will make you happy. The Snapdragon 808 processor with 3GB of RAM on a 2K amoled display with a 3410mAh battery underneath makes for a whole lot of phone, and the curved glass to match the soft-touch curved back makes it super easy to hold with one hand.

While we get really excited about the keyboard, it's important to point out this phone is amazing even if you never slide the screen up to use that keyboard. It's not big and bulky like a lot of old keyboard sliders, either. This is an impressive piece of hardware, no matter who is looking to use it.

The camera is decent, but not really competing for the top slot

BlackBerry Priv Camera

There have been some great Android phones this year, and one thing almost all of them have had in common is a spectacular camera. While the choice is great for everyone, it means the bar has been raised tremendously when considering a phone to purchase.

BlackBerry has packed an 18mp rear sensor in the back of the Priv, and it does an admirable job focusing in the right places and capturing a lot of detail and color, but it's not without flaws. The low light performance is alright but not great, and the time between tapping the capture button and saving the photo can vary wildly, which frequently leads to not capturing quite what you were hoping. These are software issues BlackBerry will hopefully address soon, but it's a problem right now.

There's also a 2mp front sensor on this phone, and while that was alright last year we've had a huge bump in selfie cameras on Android over the last year. The weaknesses in the front camera are almost all due to the small sensor, which just can't compete when there's too little or too much light around.

BlackBerry is really focusing on Security and Privacy

BlackBerry DTEK

If you hear anything about the BlackBerry Priv from advertisements, the focus will almost assuredly be on the security features BlackBerry has introduced in order to ensure privacy is a privilege you can enjoy. It's probably something you'll see talked about as something other phones can't, don't, or won't do to protect their users, and some of those other phones will likely be Android phones.

BlackBerry is making big claims with the Priv, and a big part of that is being able to sell the phone to people who care about things like FIPS 140-2 Data at Rest and Data in Transit, or what kind of encryption is being used to protect data from prying eyes. It's a lot of very serious talk for very serious people, which you'd expect from BlackBerry. Will that matter to the average consumer? Probably not, but for those folks there's the BlackBerry DTEK app to help explain what is happening and why.

As security monitoring apps go, DTEK is fairly user friendly. It lets you know how secure you are being, and gives simple yet clear instructions on how to improve your personal security. It's a relatively small thing, and you don't ever have to use it if you don't want to, but as peace of mind goes this app probably helps a lot.

It's $700, but it really should be

BlackBerry Priv

In a world where the best Android phone you can buy starts at $500, asking $200 more for your phone is a great way to get laughed at. that having been said, the BlackBerry Priv is priced perfectly. If BlackBerry wanted to make a thin, sleek Android phone with no keyboard for $500, they could and it would be amazing.

The keyboard, the sliding mechanism, and the engineering that went into making this phone feel smaller than it has any right to feel in your hand has earned that extra $200. It's the kind of phone you buy when you know this is a feature you want, and you pay for that experience to be a quality one, and not a corner-cutting pile of garbage to compete in an area Google has clearly marked as theirs.

It's worth the extra cash if you genuinely want a keyboard, and if that's not you the Nexus 6P is obviously the way to go.

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

77 Comments
  • being able to see the ENTIRE screen while typing.... makes this phone much, much "bigger" than the phablets. That is, if you do a lot of note taking / typing.
    I can't wait to give this thing a try. I might be able to leave the computer in the car more often.... keeping this Priv as a pocket computer.
  • This is what would make me want this phone. The amount of screen space a on screen keyboard takes up pretty much makes multi tasking or multi window useless. If this bb has that ability to multi window and use the physical keyboard that's a game changer productivity wise. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It is a pocket computer, indeed. Never knew they would release a smartphone something useful as this one.
  • Still not seeing how adding a keyboard makes it feel like it should be priced this high. Nice phone, but with the specs it has, $700 is way too much, even as much as AC is praising it for having a keyboard. It's essentially on the same level, specs wise as the G4, with a much worse camera. Still would love a z30 like android device from BB. 
  • Agreed.... but that keyboard is the best "app" of all. It offers all kinds of real world utility. Including being able to use those keys as physical, clicking shortcuts while on the go
  • You pay for the engineering cost of making this phone just as thin as other smartphones, but also having a sliding keyboard and a battery that's larger than most phones on the market, all while being balanced (balancing is hard). R&D doesn't pay for itself. Posted via the Android Central App
  • +100 Posted via the AC App from SM-N910F
  • "R&D doesn't pay for itself." Neither will consumers, this phone was thrown in the water with a giant anchor attacked to it.
  • I beg to Differ I think it'll sell very well. I sell these on eBay and Local and there going like Hot cakes. I sold 4 today and I'm a small local seller.
  • The specs really does not compare to the quality of this phone comparing to the g4. It really feels great. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yup I agree with you. There's no way you can justify an extra $200 simply because it has a sliding keyboard, no matter how much engineering went into it. If you want to price your phone that high it better have a damn good camera and screen to compete against phones like the Note 5. Two things this phone doesn't seem to have, not to mention the lack of Fingerprint Scanner. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I get this argument but someone like me (small niche and all that it is) would pay more for a keyboard. I have a Note 5 and I don't even use the fingerprint sensor. I don't even really use the stylus unless I'm drawing something on a photo now and again. I'd get more value out of a physical keyboard that reduces my typos. I'm a touch-typer so I don't like to look at the keyboard when I'm typing. I find that hard to do with a tocuhscreen. I do agree the price is a little high though. I imagine they'll run a $100 off promotion soon enough, maybe for the holidays.
  • This phone is aimed at enterprise users. The physical keyboard and added security features are gonna make it tempting for many businesses and organizations so to an extent they're gonna get away with the steep price tag. Personally I think they should have considered going with $ 550-600. I agree that $700 is way too much. But its obvious why they went that way
  • The first thing I agree with you on. I used to have to have a blackberry for my last job for security reasons. The majority of sales for this phone will come from the business sector that needs the security this phone offers. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Two things: if i want a phone, i buy a phone; if i want a camera, i buy a camera. The PRIV is a PHONE, so i will buy a PHONE. Selfies??? D... i'm looking security and privacy, and that´s PRIV is.
  • I don't know too many people that would buy any phone these days outright, but if you are saying 700 is too much just compare it. An iphone 6s plus with 16gb outright is: 650. I'd say an extra 16gb and the ability to increase its storage is worth the 50 bucks.
  • Everyone knows iphones are overpriced lol. But you're also getting a better camera, processor with the iphone. In terms of android, it is expensive, just for adding a keyboard. 
  • How are they overpriced? They retain a high resale value (for good reason) and their reliability and performance are second to none. My experience has been androids are ticking time bombs of bugs, crashes, bleeds and boot loops, no matter what price point, brand or hardware.
  • Iphone specs just don't match Android. An iPhone in the Android world would be mid range at best. You're paying for the name and eco system. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's actually not very accurate Johny. The 6s is packing a monster processing package that in certain aspects no current Android SoC is on par with. The only spec Android phones really have on both the 6s and + is higher resolution displays. RAM is irrelevant because iOS uses memory more efficiently, and all high end cameras are about the same in quality these days But as for hackdroids, that dude doesn't know what the hell is going on, lol
  • I don't hate iphones. Until recently I've carried one as a work phone for several years. For me they don't live up to the hype, not even close. As you mention, the screens look dull compared to almost any Android, I don't like the cameras, I find them laggy and you have to pay up the ass for 16 gb of storage? No thanks. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I added in that this hackdroids dude doesn't know what the hell is going on
  • I know. And I don't mind if others disagree with me. It's really my opinion. But I do find it very telling with trolls come on here to attack Android phones, rather than specifically spouting the virtues of iPhones. I know they are solid phones. They are also solidly boring. Posted via the Android Central App
  • As for iPhone it really doesn't have to do what Android phones do. iOS still doesn't have really multitasking. On most iDevices you start Netflix then go to Chrome, then back to Netflix and then back everything has to reload, both times! Nothing really stays in the background! Where even on my two year old plus Note 3 I can go to Netflix, Hangouts, Chrome with 80+ tabs, etc and all load without any refreshing. Heck, I can do most of that on the same screen side by side! So iOS is better at memory management as it doesn't keep any memory open from any apps but system and the open app. And in recent benchmark with the 6s vs the Note 5 the Note wins in every CPU benchmark while the 6s wins ins every GPU benchmark. So Android phones have higher resolution displays with more and better screen technologies, larger screens, pen support (only Note series but it counts), faster storage via UFS 2.0, camera performance (the recent Android phones have really jumped ahead of Apple and even photo pros have shown Android cameras this generation to be leagues ahead of Apple counterparts not to mention with larger resolutions). RAM sizes (many phones have 4GB while Apple still has 1GB in all but their newest 6S), CPU performance (although like I said GPU just blows away Android on iOS), the ability to add microSD (dying breed) and the ability to change your battery (removable battery, also a dying breed) and finally in price as Apple phones are simply way to expensive (still) for the hardware inside. iOS won 2014 with the iPhone 6 but Android has dominated in 2015 with better cameras and some increases in CPU power and storage technology (UFS 2.0). But the biggest thing Android has to offer is choice; Type of phone: keyboard, bar, flip. Material: plastic, metal, glass, wood, leather (lol). Choice is great and it is what makes Android so strong. Pricepoint is another as Apple has overpriced their phones for way to long and their shift to a cheaper phone failed with iPhone 5c. Samsung learned this the hard way as they have copied Apple in every way, even price, and their new phone designs have bombed barely surpassing sales set by the S5, which was a sales failure and left millions of phones on shelves or Samsung to write off in their taxes. If you try to make your phone like the iPhone you need to not be priced outrageously like the iPhone or customers will simply say, "Why don't I simply buy an iPhone instead of an iPhone knockoff?" And removing choice for Android customers who are used to having so many options was the final nail in the coffin for the Galaxy and Note series in 2015 as Samsung removed the ability to add expandable microSD storage (instead modeling their pricing structure on iPhone's $100 for 32GB and then $200 for 96GB and even removing the 128GB option altogether for the Note 5 and S6 Edge Plus which baffled everyone?). Samsung also decided to seal their batteries in their devices while they did switch to the much requested premium materials (This also follows Apple as they have always been sealing their batteries in devices and it's a great way to forced users to buy new phones every year as they can't simply buy a battery on Amazon for $15 and pop it in themselves). Non-removable batteries were another horrible decision only topped by making those said batteries too small for the device they were to be powering. There hasn't been a time where specs for a phone actually go down but Samsung did it with battery size making both the Galaxy and Note series batteries smaller than their predecessors but then saying fast charging and wireless charging was going to make it all better. And finally they killed infrared support on the Note 5 and S6 Edge Plus, a feature which they started back in 2013 and even had on this years earlier S6 and S6 Edge models, WTF?! Samsung has always been a major player with their Galaxy and Note series but now that both of those series have bombed in 2014 and 2015 respectively, Samsung can't even catch a break as their mid and low tiered devices aren't selling either. Fierce competition from Huawei and ZTE in developing nations and countries like India, Pakistan and China have cost Samsung double digit market-share losses year over year. So basically this is a warning to other Android manufacturer's, don't try to emulate another company [Apple], simply create the best phone you can and make sure it has everything the "people" want! I expect next year Samsung will return to the phones that made them the number one Android manufacturer. But then again they might surprise us all and keep on this path to bankruptcy (aka HTC's future). LG would be smart to step up in 2016 as Samsung is wounded. HTC had one of the best phones in the world in 2010 and I remember lining up to buy one myself only to have to wait 3 months to get my hands on one! Then it was all downhill from there. Samsung doesn't want to continue to go down the wrong path, which is where it's heading right now. If LG was smart they would release a Note device of their own with a pen and keep removable batteries and storage as they are the only game in town with those features (unless Samsung makes a comeback in 2016). They just need a design refresh for 2016 as their phones have looked the same for 3 generations now and also some more R&D in their displays. They could become the market leader as the pathway is lit up but will they walk it?
  • You should consider shortening your crazy rants in the future. I got about 10 words in before seeing you wrote a volume and then ignored the rest. Just like everyone else will
  • Boy, you never used iPhone, which is cinformed by your comment, which four years old at least. Today iPhone beats even galaxy note 5 without almost even a fight and in term of speed, multitasking, buttery smoothness, apps quality and if it's iPhone 6s plus model then battery as well. And its cpu and gpu is roughly twice as fast then completing android phone. I am currently using G4. But your comment was my thought as like four years ago. Mid range iPhone 5s faster than top android phones. No matter how many people praise priv keyboard here, it does not matter at all, it won'sell in substantial numbers, it won't serve BB any good, becaus this is not market device, people don't need physical keyboard and slide out form factors, they hage been rejected by market for good and for a reason. BB has no mood, chance or capability, of coming back into business, nor they deservd it, if they had little bit of brain as well, after adopting android they needed to make high end mainstream phone and competitive price for mass market by adding there expertise instead of holding onto past. And suffer a fate of Nokia.
  • Delusional much?
  • Unfortunately you don't have the slightest clue of what the hell you're talking about. Ignorant much?
  • Yeah, I'm not reading either of those clichéd novels lol. AC 101, people will defend their current choice of smartphone, no matter how insane they sound. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Ya pretty much
  • You are lying about the speeds. Check your information again Posted via the AC App from SM-N910F
  • Have you actually used an iPhone yourself? There is no multitasking, and apps that are put into the background get cached.
    The sheer amount of hardware compatibility, software, and freedom you have with a Note 5 is worth taking a second look at.
    Hardware keyboard is far more tactile and haptic than a software one. If you need a keyboard then there aren't many options to choose from. BB will own this niche however small it is ;)
  • It will come with a hub, android users need to try the hub... Call quality and speakers on the blackberry passport se makes the iPhone 6 and note 5 look cheap and outdated.. The quality is not even close.... It only lacks the camera... Bb10 os should come with full Google service and Google play it's much smoother and multitasking is fast... I wish android worked like the with all the apps
  • I think the camera is all software related. It is by far the best camera for a BB phone, but I think once the software is optimized it's going to be a great camera
  • Considering the FirePhone at launch, this is not bad priced. Give it 3 -4 months and it will be much less. That said, I previously made a couple snark comments about this phone but It's actually pretty nice looking and something I'd now consider getting. Posted via the GS6 Active, aka GS6 M.E. (Manly Edition)
  • The keyboard though is great. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm really impressed by BB and I hope they sell a ton of these phones. It's good to have a fresh pair of eyes in the android world. Note 5/Edge+/AC App
  • I really liked ur review guys. I took a look at the other's site reviews, and omg it looks like they have a personal issuer with BlackBerry. Particularly Gizmodo. Only thing I don't like is the pricing. For a company that want to regain the its lost public, they should have put it at $599. It would have make more sense to me Posted via the ONE M9
  • AC looks at it the way they should: a stock Android phone with a few BB apps and tweaks added, decent cam, decent performance, and a great keyboard for those who need it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well to gizmoto's credit I haven't seen AC give a bad review in months...apparently every android hand set is phenomenal at this point. Which may be true(?)... But give it 3 months and the real dirt will start to come out in the comment sections
  • I played around with one in an AT&T store today and, I have to say, it's really nice. I'm a T-Mo subscriber on a buggy Note 5 that drains battery on wifi and can't wait to get rid of it. When I looked around the T-Mo store for another device (on Jump on Demand) my choice was touchscreen phones that all basically do the same thing. The keyboard is a real value add for me. Unfortunately AT&T refused to take my money as I'm not a subscriber. I know they want to profit off me being on a plan, but you would think it would be no skin off their nose to bank the margin on a phone and just replenish stock next week.
  • I'm also on a buggy note (edge for me) and also on T-Mobile. I can not wait to dump this crapsung for this BlackBerry. The reason att wouldn't still it to you is because the store and the sales rep doesn't make any money on that type of sale. So, they technically could, but why when the next guy will get them paid. Another reason why the carriers shouldn't be selling phones. Luckily, if you have the cash, you could just buy it from BlackBerry. I don't, so I have to wait on T-Mobile to put it on shelves. Please make it quick T-Mobile, I want an early Christmas present.
  • Crapsung.....hehehe
  • See like a great phone but how are you supposed to put a case on it? Too risky for me to have a hard use, everyday carry phone without a protective case. The keyboard must be a weak point if it gets dropped while open.
  • Did you even bother to look at accessories for the phone before making that comment? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lol I wa thinking the same lol ppl love to hate blackberry for no reason., they don't even know why they hate them lol Apple has really accomplished the mission of brainwashing haha some still think blackberry still making 2004 phones lol
  • Exactly my question. How will this phone look and feel with a case on? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I want to like it but all the reviewers complain about sound and radios quality Posted via the Android Central App
  • Where? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Android Authority said the same.
  • I don't know the call quality is phenomenon. I have to have any reception issues. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Just saw a review on youtube, the guy says it gets so hot you get a blackberry logo branding lol Posted via my LG Flex 2
  • https://youtu.be/F8dm7YdAvHA Posted via my LG Flex 2
  • Agree with the article, 700 is not bad. I got my HTC One M8 for 750 last year. On contract though, it was 0$ :) Posted via the Android Central App
  • Does it snap in half though? Posted via the MATERIAL AC App
  • Buy a Priv and let us know Nexus 6
  • "and today that is being crossed of all around the world" crossed off...
  • Yeah, no phone is worth 700 to me. I hope it does well, but so many compelling devices that are much cheaper. Maybe I will pick one up next year on Swappa or Craigslist. I would like to try the hub, but I don't think BB10 could be any smoother than my Nexus 6P.
    Those on T-Mobile, has it been released that T-Mobile is going to carry it? Thought AT&T exclusive.
  • It's only an AT&T exclusive temporarily at launch but not permanently. I'm hoping all carriers will have it for Christmas. I'm on T-Mobile too and can't wait. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Looks like a surprisingly solid phone, although I'm just not a physical keyboard person. For Blackberry fans though, this is a no brainer. Posted via the Android Central App
  • AC, stahp. You're making my craving harder to resist. The new Hamilton Beach SD toaster. Powered by the Snapdragon 810.
  • https://youtu.be/ZXsQAXx_ao0 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nice thoughts android central!! :) Posted via the Android Central App on my LG G4
  • I'm really interested with this phone. I always have preferred an actual kb compared to a lousy touchscreen kb. I keep on pressing the wrong key whenever I use the damn thing. Posted via the Android Central App
  • If the Nexus 6P is a great phone then it means BlackBerry did right with the Priv, I mean all these comparisons with their first Android phone Posted via the Android Central App
  • AC seems to think that the 6p is the best android phone out now when most other forums or blogs agree the s6e plus and note 5 are. I'm not saying the 6p isn't a good phone it's just that it's a budget phone... I don't care how fast it gets updates. If I ever have to rock a 500 dollar phone then I'll be the first to admit I've failed at life lol... Posted via the Android Central App
  • Are you seriously saying $500 is a budget phone? My god you must be a doctor or a rocket scientist or something. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No ki11, he's just the village dumbass. JFK shot first
  • Really appreciate the last point. And I totally support that. Posted via the Android Central App on my Galaxy S3 Neo Dual Sim which thankfully doesn't have S-pen and does not have a horrible metal body.
  • I've skimmed through a few reviews and don't see mention of Android Pay compatibility. I assume, seeing as it has NFC that this will be compatible? BBRY has had mobile payment capabilities for several years and I just want to be sure this is future proofed for the next couple of years. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Android pay is available. Posted via the Android Central App
  • How to change lock screen wallpaper? Posted via the Android Central App
  • I guess I have to recant all of the posts I made saying it was to expensive; everybody who has touched one says its worth it. Worst thing is I'm on Verizon, just picked up my Droid Turbo 2 because I didn't think the Priv would have great battery, and now I NEED a Priv lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Got to play with one at the AT&T store and have to admit the damn phone has me sold..... Got a Note 5 international version but couldn't get past the battery drain issue due to deep sleep issue that I turned around and sold it. I personally think BlackBerry over priced the Priv due to the simple fact that they have completely lost consumer mind share and need to price accordingly to entice them in an already crowded space, plus phone should not have been an exclusive on any carrier period! Side note, the carrier reps know absolutely nothing about the Priv and its capabilities after I visited 2 stores..
  • It was nice when I saw the phone in person, it just seemed a little janky. Sent from my Sony Xperia Tablet Z
  • Go Priv! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I have had the BlackBerry Bold 9000 and the Q10 and thought I couldn't do without the keyboard, until I developed arthritis in my thumbs. So I decided to try the Z10, then the Z30. The Z30 is the best!! So I was not interested in the Passport or classic. The Priv, however, has really caught my attention! I have been missing the speed and accuracy of the keyboard. Here is a phone that gives me a choice of a brief response with the VKB, and accurate typing with the PKB!! Not to mention the huge exposed screen when the VKB is not covering it!! I think the work that went into designing this phone is worth the price! I can't wait to try it. I will probably wait till it gets Marshmallow though. I understand then I will be able to control app permissions. .