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BlackBerry Priv Hands-on, First Impressions: Has BlackBerry Seen The Light?

We go hands-on with the BlackBerry Priv

Let’s face it, BlackBerry devices don’t excite anybody. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true – whenever BlackBerry announces a new product, the world takes a cursory look and moves on – the brand has never elicited excitement with their releases.

That’s changed with the Priv. For once, the tech world has been in a tizzy leading up to the release of the new device. It had Android, a physical keyboard and a design that’s shockingly not boring. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the Priv, and what you can expect from it.

BlackBerry Priv specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 5.4-inch curved QHD AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 4, 2560 x 1440 resolution
  • 32GB of storage, expandable via microSD up to 2TB
  • 18-megapixel rear camera, OIS, PDAF, 6-element f/2.2 lens, dual LED flash
  • 2-megapixel fixed focus camera, f/2.8 lens, 1.75um pixel size
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, NFC
  • 3410mAh battery
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop

Initial Impressions: physical keyboard, how we’ve missed you

BlackBerry is a company that’s known for their messaging experience, and the Priv is no exception. Just like the Passport, the Priv has a physical keyboard, but stuffing in a keyboard into a frame of a device that has a 5.4-inch QHD display would make it impossibly tall. So the company took a cue from phones of yore and used a sliding mechanism to hide the keyboard under the main body. The keyboard is neatly tucked away underneath the display, and springs positively into place when you flick it open.


The keyboard is predictably amazing to type on (it’s a BlackBerry phone after all) and as an added bonus you can use it to scroll through webpages, apps and even through the UI like a touchpad.ย The phone fits the hand nicely, and the curved sides of the display make it fantastic to hold, and overall the phone feels extremely solid and premium, though there’s a little flex on the back of the phone. Other than that the phone feels nice in the hands. BlackBerry also placed the speaker grille on the front of the device near the bottom of the keyboard. Speaking of the display, it’s nice and bright, and QHD resolution means that the sharpness of the screen is amazing.

The power button is on the left side of the phone while the volume rocker is on the right. There’s a button in between the two volume buttons which shows the status of the notifications and sound on the phone. Both the USB and 3.5mm jack is located on the bottom.

Flip the phone over and you’ll see the carbon fiber like pattern and the 18-megapixel rear camera that has all the goodies you’d expect from a flagship device – OIS, PDAF, a 6-element f/2.2 lens and a dual LED flash. The 2-megapixel front camera is an ultra-pixel deal, which is good for selfie addicts.

Internally the BlackBerry Priv is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor, paired with 3GB of RAM. There’s 32GB of storage on tap and the microSD card can handle cards of up to 2TB, so if you run out of storage, it’s completely your fault.

For their first Android phone, BlackBerry has done wonders with the implementation of Android 5.1 Lollipop on it. The Priv feels quick, snappy and responsive, and while the type of customers it’ll attract won’t be the gaming types, people who like to game on their phones won’t have a problem at all with the Priv. There’s plenty of power under the hood for both work and play.

The only problem with the Priv, at least in the Philippines, is its price. At Php 45,000, it’s almost prohibitively expensive and is priced at almost iPhone levels. Selling a phone for that much here in the PH is asking for trouble. We honestly feel that that’s a step in the wrong direction, as BlackBerry needs to convice more people to buy their phone. Their pricing is more than guaranteed to achieve the opposite effect, which is too bad – the phone is all we wanted in a BlackBerry phone.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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  1. Pricing it like it is Apple. This could be a seller at 30k (which is already high-end for most Android phones), but at 45k, it is almost like they don’t want it to sell or they have severely limited inventory.

    Blackberry have this chance to regain market share, but they choose profit over sales. Unfortunately, by next year, sliders like these should be aplenty from other OEMs.

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