Priv Blackberry Unlocked Smartphone

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    Expert Review

    To say the BlackBerry Priv is a curious device would be an understatement. A quick history lesson: before 2007, BlackBerry was, for the most part, the smartphone market. The devices had a devoted following among all types of consumers, despite initially being a gadget marketed for business users. The iPhone was released and BlackBerry’s management dismissed it as a toy.However, the company’s been playing catchup ever since. The company’s now on life support and a radical change of course (or as the MBA types are so fond of saying, "pivoting") was required. The BlackBerry Priv is that change of course.

    The BlackBerry Priv, most importantly, does not run BlackBerry’s OS. Instead, it runs Android. While previous versions of the BlackBerry OS addressed the problem of the lack of apps on their phones, the Priv goes full Android and abandons their proprietary OS. This is, to say the least, huge.BlackBerry markets the Priv on the same qualities as the older models of BlackBerry: a focus on enterprise (or business) users, a real, physical keyboard (more on this later) and security (though the company’s CEO, John Chen, has said he’s ok with opening backdoors for law enforcement).

    The hallmark of BlackBerry devices have been its keyboards. As the company lost marketshare, fans of the devices refused to move to other devices because of the keyboard and for the few users of BlackBerries that are left, the keyboard is of primary importance. The Priv’s keyboard, according to reports from reviewers and users, is of the same quality. Though physical keyboards, or various quality, were available in early iterations of consumer Android smartphones, this may the only current Android device with a keyboard.

    The device is powered by a Snapdragon 808 with 3GB. It comes with 32GB of onboard storage, which is expandable with an SD card. However, reviewers reported heat and performance issues with the device when using it. Its display is 5.4 inches, making it a phablet-sized device, protected by Gorilla Glass 4.Compared to what BlackBerry is asking for the device, it puts it in line with flagship devices from other manufacturers, but tech writers who’ve spent time with the device complain that the overall experience is along the lines of a midrange device.The device’s camera features an 18 megapixel sensor in its camera, which is equipped with optical image stabilization. This easily makes it the best-performing BlackBerry ever, but even with this praise, taking photos takes about a second, with HDR photos taking about four or five seconds to process.

    Keeping with privacy aspect of the device, the phone includes an app, DTEK security, that monitors malicious activity from the phone and offers details as to what’s going on in the phone. The Priv doesn’t run the latest version of Android, but it does allow for granular permission controls.One of the ideas from the BBX operating system carries over to the Android-powered Priv is BlackBerry Hub. As it turns out, it’s a great tool for managing communications, whether it’s from emails, texts or social media. All of that noise can be filtered with Hub into the signal you’re looking for. It’s a great idea, and something Google and Apple could learn from.

    The question ultimately is whether the Priv is the transcendent device that will win back and, hopefully, convert users. If you’ve been holding out for a new BlackBerry, the Priv offers full compatibility with Android with the privacy and keyboard one expects from BlackBerry.For most users, they’d be best served by sitting out the first version of the Priv and waiting for the refinements of a second version. But given dwindling fortunes of the company, there very well might not be another Priv.
    Rating: 5/5

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