The new BlackBerry Priv has been released at a particularly crucial time for the company. The entire future of BlackBerry as a smartphone manufacturer is at stake, as the corporation continues to struggle to adapt to a mobile marketplace dominated by the lights of Apple and Samsung. The BlackBerry Priv is an attempt to reinvigorate the company and produce a genuinely successful consumer product.
So how does the BlackBerry Priv compare to the other smartphones on the market? Here is a rundown of the particular qualities and quibbles of this smartphone contender.
First up, the BlackBerry Priv costs $699 from BlackBerry, and $249.99 on AT&T for a two-year contract in the United States. BlackBerry states that more carriers will come online in the United States in the foreseeable future, but Verizon has been ruled out of this process.
The BlackBerry Priv is a large smartphone, although BlackBerry has also ensured that it is relatively slim. With a depth of 9mm and weight of 192g, it compares fairly favorably with other mobile contenders, although the likes of the Galaxy S6 Edge are significantly slimmer. Early response to the physical appearance of the Priv has been positive, with the general consensus that this is the most attractive smartphone that BlackBerry has ever produced.
Display and sound
The BlackBerry Priv certainly has a decent display, with BlackBerry having armed the device with a 2,560 x 1,440 plastic AMOLED display. The 5.43-inch screen included in the handset is also of decent size and pretty adequate for most functions. The usage of AMOLED technology and shows that the BlackBerry Priv is able to display warmer and brighter colors. This aids its perception as a consumer device, and could make it more of a mass-market smartphone.
The audio capabilities of the smartphone are dealt with via a wide speaker that is hidden behind a raft of laser-drilled holes. This provides decent enough sound to fill a sizeable room, but doesn’t compete with the market leaders such as the HTC BoomSound.
The BlackBerry Priv has moved away from the proprietary operating system that BlackBerry devices have utilized previously, and instead relies on a customized version of Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop). This has altered the way that the BlackBerry Priv works in comparison to other BlackBerry devices, with the way that swiping operates particularly conspicuously changed. This could be irritating for experienced BlackBerry users, but once one becomes accustomed to it, the new approach is fairly intuitive.
Other changes to the software are fairly cosmetic, but the most noticeable addition is Dtek; a new security suite from BlackBerry. This software ensures that owners of the BlackBerry Priv do not make their devices vulnerable to either hacking or stealing. There are question marks regarding how effective this new system may be, but at least BlackBerry is responding to the prospect of hacking and malware. This is important considering that Android is heavily targeted by hackers in particular.
Although cameras are generally considered extremely important for the smartphone industry, this has never been a particular priority for BlackBerry. The company has always traded on other distinct aspects of its products, with the keyboard always a particularly unique inclusion. Indeed, the BlackBerry Passport was the first of its devices to even receive a camera with a double-digit sensor.
However, BlackBerry has certainly addressed this with the BlackBerry Priv, including an 18-megapixel Schneider-Kreuznach-certified imaging sensor. The smartphone also includes a wide range of other features ensuring that the BlackBerry Priv is capable of competing fairly evenly with professional standard cameras. Thus, the BlackBerry Priv features among its functions optical image stabilization, phase-detect auto focus and the ability to record 4K video at 30fps. Software-based live image filters but also included.
This is certainly a capable smartphone camera, and unquestionably the best snapper ever to be included in a BlackBerry device.
Performance and battery life
BlackBerry has attempted to take a different approach from other major smartphone manufacturers, producing devices that don’t really compete in the never ending spec wars. But with the BlackBerry Priv switching to Android, there is now the opportunity for the company to significantly upgrade the capabilities of the device, and this has certainly been exploited.
Thus, the handset is powered by a 1.8GHz dual-core 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 chip paired with 3GB RAM and 32GB of built-in storage. The quality of performance that this unit produces is actually both impressive and surprising, particularly when one considers that BlackBerry has never manufactured an Android device previously.
Already, the BlackBerry Priv has performed more than adequately against other major smartphones in benchmark testing and real-world performance, and BlackBerry must be commended for this achievement.
In addition to the processor, the BlackBerry Priv features a non-removable, 3,410mAh battery. It is notable that this is larger than the unit included in both the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge. Early tests have suggested that the battery will last over 12 hours, which is extremely competitive when compared to existing units such as the iPhone series.
Finally, the key aspect of the BlackBerry series remains the keyboard that the company includes in its devices, and the BlackBerry Priv is no exception to this rule. The BlackBerry Priv makes an ideal device for those people looking to send emails and texts, and it seems that BlackBerry will continue to trade on this feature of its devices indefinitely.
The BlackBerry Priv is unquestionably an excellent effort from the corporation to create a high-spec, top of the range smartphone performer. And it has many strengths and admirable elements to its makeup. The downside to the BlackBerry Priv is that it is rather pricey and up against some extremely strong competition in its price bracket. Whether it can truly attract a following when competing against the biggest smartphones on the planet is debatable, but it certainly deserves to be a success.