BlackBerry Priv
BlackBerry Priv

BlackBerry Priv: If you can’t beat them, join them

The first Android phone from BlackBerry still relies on its framework of apps for a genuinely unique package

Once the default choice of corporates, business users and anyone who wanted extreme productivity on the move, BlackBerry phones have suffered over the past few years. Mostly at the hands of Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS smartphones. So after falling behind with the BlackBerry OS7 software, and not making up any ground with the subsequent BlackBerry 10 operating system on phones such as the Z10, the Classic and the Passport, BlackBerry decided that it is time to follow a different strategy. Perhaps BlackBerry stuck with its vision of a secure productivity OS for far too long. Late last year, the company released its newest smartphone, called the Priv, in some countries. The phone, which runs Google Android, is now being launched in India for 62,990 and will hit the market on 30 January.

A quick glance through the specs, first. It has a 5.4-inch AMOLED display with a 2,560x1,440 pixel resolution. The design is all about simplicity and usability, and there is a distinct sense of seriousness to the entire package. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, with 3GB of RAM and 32GB internal storage. There is a 3410mAh battery as well. The capacity is in line with a lot of the recent big screen phones. There is an 18-megapixel camera that also does 4K video.

But, before you pass this off as just another Android phone, remember that it still has a rather generous dollop of the BlackBerry persona—and that is what is genuinely unique about the BlackBerry Priv. In fact, this phone is all about blending the best of both worlds—the massive app ecosystem that Android provides, and the security as well as productivity features that are arguably BlackBerry software’s forte.

To run you through the blend, the basic Android operating system includes the Google Play Store as well as Google apps including Gmail, Google Chrome web browser, Google Drive cloud storage, Google Maps and Google Photos. However, BlackBerry has put in a lot of its own apps that BlackBerry 10 users would very well remember. These include BBM messenger, BBM Meetings, Camera, Content Transfer, Calendar by BlackBerry, Contacts, Notes and Tasks as well as the BlackBerry Hub. The Hub, in fact, is something that power users would absolutely love—it puts all call, message, email and social network notifications in one place. The DTEK device encryption lets users as well as organizations restrict application access to the Priv’s microphone, camera and location data. In fact, BlackBerry has pushed a lot of its own apps, such as the camera, calendar, keyboard, contacts and Hub to the Google Play Store, which makes it very easy to simply send out quick updates to improve performance or add new features to each.

Another huge unique point is the fact that this isn’t an all touchscreen phone like the Z10 or the Z30, or the conventional touch and QWERTY like the Classic or the Passport. In fact, this has a slide out QWERTY keyboard, and BlackBerry has tried to retain the key design of its popular phones. The layout and the size may take a bit of getting used to, because the phone feels a bit top heavy while typing, but there’s nothing that feels uncomfortable or downright dangerous.

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