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BlackBerry Priv Review: A New Hope, or a Last Hope?

BlackBerry wants to give we a best of both worlds. But has a universe already upheld this code by? The initial BlackBerry to run Android, a Priv ($240 on agreement by ATT) opens adult a universe of apps once taken to devotees of phones with keyboards. And, yes, there’s a earthy slide-out keyboard, finish with accessible shortcuts, that promises to make we some-more productive. Just as important, a Priv retains many of a facilities that have done BlackBerrys so constrained for business users, including crafty confidence and a strong apartment of capability apps. Has BlackBerry finally found a right mix?


The many superb BlackBerry yet, a Priv is a good concede for BlackBerry fans who lamentation a miss of a earthy keyboard on inclination like a Z30 — or any Android phone for that matter — yet find a Passport too unmanageable for bland use. 

Photo: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuidePhoto: Jeremy Lips / Tom’s GuideThe behind quarrel of a Priv is done of fiberglass, with a soothing touch-coating that feels tremendous. This cloaking has a combined advantage of creation a Priv feel unequivocally secure in-hand, as against to all-metal smartphones, that can seem a tiny slippery.

Photo: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuidePhoto: Jeremy Lips / Tom’s GuideWhen a Priv is closed, a twin curves of a arrangement are suggestive of a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and Edge+. The shade itself is bordered by a steel rim, that not usually adds a good accent, yet also creates it easier to crack adult a arrangement with your ride to exhibit a keyboard.

Photo: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuidePhoto: Jeremy Lips / Tom’s GuideA vast orator grille sits next a keyboard, and a microUSB and 3.5mm headphone jack are on a bottom edge. The right side of a Priv has dual volume buttons, with a tongue-tied pitch in between; a energy pitch is on a left side. The tip side has slots for a nanoSIM label and a microSD card, a latter of that can take cards adult to 2TB in distance — once those are invented.

Photo: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuidePhoto: Jeremy Lips / Tom’s GuideWeighing 6.77 ounces and measuring 5.78 x 3 x 0.37 inches, a Priv is heavier than a Nexus 6P (6.2 ounces), a iPhone 6s Plus (6 ounces) and a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ (5.4 ounces). But that’s not too surprising, given a Priv’s slide-out keyboard. In practice, this BlackBerry’s weight felt easily offset and not too thick.


Like other big-screen smartphones, a Priv has a quad-HD (2560 x 1440) AMOLED display, that lets it keep adult with a Joneses, even yet that high pixel count isn’t wholly necessary. The Nexus 6P and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ have screens with a same resolution, yet a iPhone 6s Plus has a 1920 x 1080 panel. Unless you’re looking genuine close, we substantially won’t notice a difference.

Photo: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuidePhoto: Jeremy Lips / Tom’s GuideI was tender with a clear colors on a Priv’s display, as good as a contrariety and low blacks when examination a trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Suicide Squad trailer also looked great, yet a Joker’s antifreeze-green hair wasn’t as shimmering as it was on phones with larger tone saturation.

The Priv can arrangement 99.9 percent of a sRGB tone gamut, that is what we like to see during a unclothed minimum. However, those who like some-more jam-packed colors might cite a Nexus 6P or a Samsung Edge+, that can arrangement 187 and 164 percent of a gamut, respectively. The iPhone splits a difference, during 105 percent. 

The Priv’s shade also delivered less-accurate colors than a competition. Its Delta-E measure of 3.35 (numbers closer to 0 are better) was worse than a scores of a Nexus (2.5), a Samsung (2.07) and a hyperaccurate iPhone (0.4).

Sadly, a Priv’s arrangement is also dimmer than a competition’s. It purebred 328 nits, that is reduction than a Nexus 6P (337), a iPhone (498) and a Samsung (490), not to discuss a smartphone normal of 430.


I have a admission to make: When we went to a Consumer Electronics Show final year, we brought a BlackBerry Classic with me as my backup phone, since it was easier to form out emails as we was walking a uncover floor. we was anticipating that a BlackBerry Priv’s keyboard would transport as well, yet while it’s a good typing experience, it’s going to leave a few BlackBerry purists cold.

Photo: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuidePhoto: Jeremy Lips / Tom’s GuideI typed this territory of a examination regulating a phone’s keyboard, and while it’s not as good as what you’ll find on a normal BlackBerry, a Priv’s keys are still flattering good for banging out brief emails. It does take some removing used to, as a keys aren’t as conspicuous as on other BlackBerrys, yet we can’t have everything. 

Ironically, we found we could form usually as fast, if not faster, when regulating a Priv’s practical keyboard.

I wish that a left alt and change keys were reversed; we kept attack a wrong one by mistake, so instead of capitalizing a letter, we would finish adult typing a symbol.

I generally like that a phone didn’t feel too top-heavy when we was typing on a keyboard. However, a smaller framework of a Priv, as against to other BlackBerrys, meant that my fingers would interlock behind a phone as we was typing. After a while, it became a bit uncomfortable.

Ironically, we found we could form usually as fast, if not faster when regulating a Priv’s practical keyboard. For one thing, a change pivotal is in a right place, and there are dedicated keys for comma and period. we also favourite a peaceful haptic feedback as we typed. Fortunately, as shortly as we snap a Priv shut, a practical keyboard appears. 

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On typingtest.com, we averaged 38 difference per notation with 6 errors when regulating a on-screen keyboard. When we used a earthy keyboard, my speed forsaken to 30 wpm, and we done 10 typos.

You can also allot shortcuts to each key. For example, long-pressing ‘T’ will automatically open Twitter.

As we typed, both keyboards would make word suggestions. we also favourite other tiny touches, like predictive calm and being means to press a spacebar twice for a period. These are all good time-saving collection when you’re perplexing to write on a tiny screen. However, conjunction keyboard has a dedicated series row.

The Priv’s earthy keyboard is good for some-more than usually typing. It’s also touch-sensitive, so we can slip your ride opposite a keyboard’s aspect to use it as a touchpad; for example, we can appropriate opposite a keyboard to switch between home screens. You can also allot shortcuts to each key. For example, long-pressing “T” will automatically open a Twitter app. Or, we can set keys to open a specific contact. The series of by-pass actions is all-encompassing, from component a summary to scheduling meetings, adding contacts, environment alarms and even formulating a new document. 


The Priv runs a sincerely purify implement of Android Lollipop (a Marshmallow refurbish is due in 2016), with a few pointed changes. Any time we receive, say, a new message, a tiny red asterisk will seem in a top right dilemma of a messaging-app icon. The same binds for Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or any module in that we could accept a summary or update.

If an idol has 3 white dots underneath it, that means it has a pop-up widget. Swipe adult or down on a Calendar icon, and we get a discerning perspective of your arriving events. Swiping on a Chrome icons shows your bookmarks, while swiping on a Gmail idol reveals your latest emails. All of a equipment in these pop-up widgets are actionable, that creates this a crafty time-saver.

Another time-saver is a Productivity Tab, manifest as a tiny white bar on a right side of a home shade (southpaws can pierce a bar to a left). Swipe over it with your thumb, and we open an conceal that shows unread messages, arriving calendar events, open tasks and favorite contacts. It’s another good approach of removing to a information we need with a smallest of fuss. The usually thing we wish we could do from here is undo messages; we have to go into a full analogous app for that. 

BlackBerry Apps

No BlackBerry would be finish though a Hub, a concept core for all your email, amicable media, texts and calls. Within a email view, tugging down on a arrangement reveals arriving calendar appointments, and we can set adult left- and right-swipe gestures to perform certain actions, such as deletion messages or relocating them to a certain folder.

Other BlackBerry apps embody BlackBerry Messenger and Content Transfer, that lets we quit your calm from an Android, iOS, BlackBerry 7 or BlackBerry 10 device. BlackBerry Device Search is a flattering absolute tool; notwithstanding a name, it can not usually demeanour adult things on a Priv, yet can also extend a hunt to a cloud.

A hunt for “Beth” not usually brought adult all my contacts with that name, yet also constructed emails and calendar events in that she was listed. Additionally, Device Search has Instant Actions, that let we form or pronounce into a phone to perform certain functions, such as “Call Beth” or “Email Mark.” Pretty handy.

While we have no complaints about any of these apps, we wish a Priv also upheld BlackBerry Blend. This unequivocally useful desktop app lets we entrance all a calm on a phone when it’s tethered to your PC or Mac.


One of a executive offered points of BlackBerry inclination is that a BlackBerry handling complement is distant some-more secure than other mobile OSes. After switching to a less-secure Android with a Priv, BlackBerry has taken some stairs to safeguard that users’ information stays as protected.

The DTek app gives we a picture of how stable your phone is, while vouchsafing we see and cgange how apps are regulating your information as good as a Priv’s hardware (such as a camera). The spin of fact is impressive: DTek not usually told me how many times Facebook accessed my plcae data, yet also showed me where it did so.

DTek also checks to see if any apps try to cgange a handling system. You can also set adult DTek to warning we any time an commissioned app attempts to entrance your camera, contacts, location, microphone, calm messages or video.

After switching to a less-secure Android with a Priv, BlackBerry has taken some stairs to safeguard that users’ information stays as stable as before.

Ironically, a singular underline blank from a Priv is one that many other smartphone makers have adopted: a fingerprint reader. Considering that a Priv has NFC and supports Android Pay, carrying this additional covering of confidence would have been appreciated.


The Priv facilities an 18-megapixel behind camera with visible picture stabilization, and while it achieved well, it’s not a best smartphone camera in a category (the iPhone 6s Plus is tops in that). For starters, there’s no approach to change many of a camera settings. While there are some built-in filters, we can’t change a camera’s resolution, for instance. You can usually select from Fine and Standard picture quality.

Photo: Mike Prospero / Tom's GuidePhoto: Mike Prospero / Tom’s GuideThe Priv’s camera was delayed to focus, so a lot of images we attempted to take of my cats, generally an irascible gray kitten, came out blurry. The camera also had a unequivocally shoal abyss of field, so in a print of dual cats, usually a apportionment of a gray one was in focus.

But that concentration emanate worked to a Priv’s advantage when we took a print of a red rose outdoors; a credentials was agreeably blurred.

The Priv did a decent pursuit during accounting for synthetic light, as seen in a print of some salmon on ice. The fish looks a bit faded, yet a colors were flattering loyal to what we saw in person.

Photo: Mike Prospero / Tom's GuidePhoto: Mike Prospero / Tom’s GuideDespite a built-in visible picture stabilization, we was mostly unhappy with a night shots from a Priv. Many photos we attempted to take of reduce Manhattan during night came out blurry, and of those that were in focus, a lights of a buildings were blown out.

Photo: Mike Prospero / Tom's GuidePhoto: Mike Prospero / Tom’s GuideWhen regulating possibly a front or behind cameras, HDR mode was tolerably effective. When sharpened a Empire State Building with a dim foreground, both areas were well-exposed.

Photo: Mike Prospero / Tom's GuidePhoto: Mike Prospero / Tom’s GuideHowever, in this selfie we took, a Empire State Building was totally cleared out.

Photo: Mike Prospero / Tom's GuidePhoto: Mike Prospero / Tom’s GuideVideo goes all a approach adult to 4K during 30 frames per second. There’s an choice for extended video stabilization (which is software-based, not hardware-based), yet that underline won’t work with 4K or 1080p/60 fps video. 


Packing a hexa-core Qualcomm 808 Snapdragon processor, a Priv achieved sincerely uniformly in bland tasks, yet was a bit behind other reward smartphones when it came to benchmark tests. The usually stuttering we beheld was when swiping to undo emails in a BlackBerry Hub; a animation would postponement for a separate second, or stumble as it went opposite a screen.

On Geekbench, a Priv’s multicore measure of 3,208 was aloft than a normal (2,979), yet reduce than a scores of a Nexus (4,289), a Samsung (5,200) and a iPhone (4,405).

Likewise, a Priv’s opening of 16,274 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited was improved than average, yet many reduce than a scores of a competition.


Aside from BlackBerry’s possess apps, a Priv comes flattering giveaway of bloatware. Amazon Kindle and Yahoo Finance are a usually dual that could systematise as such; unfortunately, a latter can’t be uninstalled.

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Battery Life

BlackBerry claims a Priv’s 3,410-mAh battery will final for adult to 22 hours of churned use. We didn’t get utterly that on a Tom’s Guide Battery Test (Web surfing around LTE with a shade during 150 nits), yet a Priv did final a important 8 hours and 36 minutes. That’s half an hour longer than a normal smartphone; it’s also improved than a iPhone (8:16) and on a standard with a Samsung (8:43), yet many reduction than a Nexus 6P’s epic 12-hour and 24-minute endurance.

If a phone is charging and a shade is off, a tiny light bar extends adult a side, revelation we during a peek a commission assign and how prolonged it will be until a phone’s entirely charged. The bar changes tone from red to yellow to immature depending on how full a battery is, that is another good visible cue.

The Priv supports discerning charging, yet a concordant adapter is not included.


The Priv will be accessible by ATT for $249 with a two-year contract. If we opt for ATT’s Next 24 Plan, we will have to compensate $24.67 per month for 30 months (which amounts to $740.10), yet we can trade in an ascent to a opposite phone after 24 months. If we squeeze a phone off-contract, it’ll set we behind $699.

Bottom Line

While this phone won’t spin around BlackBerry’s fortunes overnight, those yearning for a earthy keyboard with an Android device will find their repair with a Priv. You also get a flattering good quad-HD screen, as good as plain opening and battery life. What we like many about a Priv is a program enhancements: namely, a Productivity Tab, keyboard shortcuts, confidence and, of course, a BlackBerry Hub. Even if this is not a torpedo combo we was anticipating for, BlackBerry loyalists should be gratified with a device.

Article source: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/blackberry-priv,review-3174.html

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