The reasons may have been personal, professional, or both, but there are a lot of iPhone users out there today that used to be BlackBerry users. These are people who used BlackBerry for work, or just wanted something to better deal with email in the early days of smartphones, and when the iPhone started to get really good when it came to things like camera quality and third-party apps that did just about everything under the sun, those users started making the switch.
Even with the launch of BB10, there hasn't been a compelling reason for these former BlackBerry users to seriously consider switching back to BlackBerry over the last couple of years. With the release of the Android-powered BlackBerry Priv, things have changed a bit. Looking at the experiences offered by the new BlackBerry Priv and the iPhone 6s Plus, there's some compelling reasons to give switching back to BlackBerry a serious thought.
If there's one thing you can say about the design of the BlackBerry Priv and the iPhone 6s Plus, it's that they are undeniably BlackBerry and Apple. Anyone who has ever used a BlackBerry will see a Priv sitting on a table and immediately know it is a BlackBerry, and the iPhone design has become so infamous we can't go more than a couple of weeks without someone accusing another company of ripping off Apple's design language. These are icons in their own right, and not because both companies love plastering their logo on the back so it can be seen from across the room.
Naturally, the main event when looking at the BlackBerry Priv is its keyboard.
A big part of the BlackBerry Priv design is taking parts that any other manufacturer would have used to create a big fat brick and making it something you can actually hold with one hand and enjoy using. The curved display and soft-touch plastic come together to encourage one-handed use, which is something even Apple's super thin 6s Plus can't say in many situations due to the slippery aluminum uses to make up it's overly tall body. Despite their only being just over half an inch difference in screen size between these two phones, the top and bottom bezel on the iPhone make it significantly taller than the BlackBerry Priv, which has a noticeably effect on how you hold and use the phone. While the added bezel means using the 6s Plus in landscape for games and movies is great, the booming front facing speaker on the Priv offers a significantly more compelling entertainment experience.
Naturally, the main event when looking at the BlackBerry Priv is its keyboard. This phone is a vertical slider, which means you push up between the screen and the speaker and out comes a four-row QWERTY keyboard to play. It's exactly what you'd expect from a BlackBerry keyboard, which is to say typing on it is a dream. Outside of this, the keyboard is also a trackpad for navigating the interface without having to reach up to your display, which is now much taller than the iPhone 6s Plus.
Being able to navigate without leaving the keyboard, or being able to swipe up to insert word corrections, makes this keyboard a real treat to use, but the main event for constant typers is what happens with you double-tap the panel in a text block. Similar to the Force Touch function in Apple's updated keyboard, you can quickly scroll through words in a text block to make simple edits, instead of tapping around on the block itself to get where you need to go. It's a great experience, one that makes long-form typing much more comfortable than typing on a screen.
While it may be premature to say BB10 is on its way out, BlackBerry's decision to use Android for the Priv is an interesting decision. The biggest reason this decision is interesting has everything to do with the experience BlackBerry has built with this software. While BlackBerry could have created an experience that was all BlackBerry all the time and forced BlackBerry UI and UX onto the Android OS, the company opted for a setup that lets the user choose which BlackBerry experiences they want and which Android experiences they want, which winds up creating a great situation for anyone interested in this phone. The attention to detail, and the clear evidence that BlackBerry has been paying attention to the ecosystem ears the company huge points, especially if they continue to impress with software updates.
In the end, the BlackBerry Priv is a great phone for anyone, but it's a clear sign to BlackBerry users who has switched to other phones that this company isn't going anywhere and it's time to consider switching back to see how things have changed and improved over the years. At the very least, it's a sign that Android phones are going to continue being all about choosing the experience you want, and BlackBerry being a part of that now is good for everyone.