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BlackBerry Priv: 6 features that have got us excited



Has BlackBerry finally come up with a new phone to get excited about? We take a closer look at the key BlackBerry Priv features.

The BlackBerry Priv represents something we haven’t seen for quite some time - a new BlackBerry phone that people are actually interested in.

Normal people too, not just fat cat executives and IT heads who tend to buy their phones on bulk order. The Priv has got people talking.

It could also prove to be BlackBerry’s final throw of the hardware dice before it jacks it all in and becomes a pure security software company.

Any way you look at it, the BlackBerry Priv is a seriously interesting phone. Here’s what it’s going to have to offer.

Related: Blackberry Priv review

BlackBerry Priv

Capacitive keyboard

Despite being an Android phone, this is still resolutely a BlackBerry. The presence of a physical qwerty keyboard testifies to that.

In this case it’s a best-of-both worlds scenario, as the full keyboard glides out from behind a full-sized touchscreen display via an aircraft-grade aluminium sliding mechanism.

There’s still a virtual keyboard on offer here when the keyboard is stowed away, but as soon as it slides out the virtual option automatically disappears. This slide-out action also serves as a shortcut to answer the phone, unlock the screen, or launch the Device Search function, depending on the context.

The other cool feature on the Priv’s keyboard is that it’s touch sensitive. This is a feature brought over from the BlackBerry Passport, and it means that fine-tuned navigation will be possible even when the touchscreen display has been shifted a couple of inches northward. It’s useful for scrolling and fine cursor control, just like a laptop trackpad.

This physical keyboard also has advantages within the BlackBerry Hub. We’ll discuss that feature in more depth a little later, but for now know that you can use keyboard shortcuts to carry out a variety of tasks. Quickly compose a message with ‘C,’ search with ‘S,’ mark a message as unread with ‘M,’ and so on.

You simply don’t get phones with physical keyboards any more. This one feature alone makes the BlackBerry Priv stand out from the crowd.

DTEK privacy controls

The second thing you’d most commonly associate with the BlackBerry brand, after the keyboard, is security and privacy. There’s a reason businesses like them so much, you know.

While the move to Android has led some to question whether this will remain the case with the Priv, BlackBerry has initiated a number of measures to keep things private.

Take the Priv’s DTEK privacy controls, for instance. DTEK provides a single dashboard to monitor and control application access to your microphone, camera, location and personal information.

It also assigns an overall security rating to your device, and a rating for each of the security features it monitors. If these ratings are anything less than ‘Excellent,’ DTEK will recommend a way to improve things.

You can also set it up to notify you of specific app activities, so you’ll always know what’s happening on your phone.

Related: iPhone 6S vs Galaxy S6

BlackBerry Priv

Blackberry Hub

Tied in with that physical keyboard, to many people the BlackBerry brand signifies easy communication. It’s fitting, then, that the Priv’s BlackBerry Hub brings all of your communications under one roof.

Emails, SMS messages, and social media all sit alongside calendar entries and even phone calls within a single app UI. You can filter messages by account type, or have them all sat together with easy-to-decipher icons signifying each communication service.

You’ll also find a powerful search function that allows you to find contacts and key words across all of these accounts simultaneously.

When typing out messages in the BlackBerry Hub, you also get far more formatting options than you do in a typical email app. These includes a toolbar that allows you to use bold, italics, underlining, bullet points, and other word processor-like modifications.


Pop-up widgets

Another innovative addition the Priv makes to the Android OS is pop-up widgets. Android has always supported widgets, of course, but more than one or two tends to clutter the screen up.

BlackBerry’s solution is to repurpose widgets as discrete optional overlays. Swipe your finger over an app icon on the home screen, and a related widget will appear. You can then interact with it just as you would if it were pinned to the homescreen as normal.

Getting rid of this pop-up widget is as simple as hitting the back or home button, or just tapping outside the widget.

If there’s more than one widget for an app, meanwhile, you’ll be presented with a widget selector. You’ll know which apps have pop-up widgets available by the three horizontal dots under their app icon.


Dual-curved UHD display

As we’ve already mentioned, the BlackBerry Priv aims to please everyone with a full-sized touchscreen display.

It’s a large 5.4-inch affair, too, which places it in similar territory to the OnePlus 2 and iPhone 6S Plus.

The Priv’s screen is much sharper than both of those aforementioned rivals, though. BlackBerry is going with a QHD resolution, which works out to 2560 x 1440 pixels. That’s the same resolution as can be found in the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and the LG G4, though it’s a little sharper than those examples thanks to a pixel density of 540ppi.

This is also an OLED display we’re talking about here, like that of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+. This means that blacks are properly black, and colours are far more vibrant than you tend to find on LCD equivalents.

Another unique feature of the Priv’s display is its dual-curved edges. We say unique, but it’s actually a very similar effect to that found on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge family.

BlackBerry has arguably made better use of this feature than Samsung, however. Along the curved edge, you get a productivity tab that provides an at-a-glance update of the latest Hub information.

BlackBerry Priv

High-end spec

The BlackBerry Priv runs on Android, and sure enough, it’ll run on the kind of processor you’d expect to find in a 2015 Android flagship phone.

We’re talking about a Snapdragon 808 CPU backed by 3GB of RAM. That’s not quite the top-end Snapdragon 810 of the Sony Xperia Z5 and Nexus 6P, but it’s still highly capable.

Indeed, the Snapdragon 808 has driven the likes of the LG G4 and the Nexus 5X - both capable phones, if not quite top of the performance charts.

Elsewhere, the Priv has 32GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot for up to 2TB of additional hot-swappable storage. Nothing spectacular, then, but it’s worth pointing out that many recent Android flagships have eschewed microSD expansion altogether.

The Priv also has an 18-megapixel Schneider-Kreuznach certified camera with OIS, and all this is powered by a large 3410 mAh battery.

Oh, and do you see those laser-drilled holes along the bottom of the keyboard? That’s a front-facing speaker, which means clear and unobstructed sound. That’s further enhanced by a BlackBerry Natural Sound algorithm, which is said to adapt the sound output according to how you hold the Priv.

Dean Holmes

October 21, 2015, 3:33 pm

I will be getting one of these for sure. So tired of every other boring slab of a phone. I do like my Note 3, but it has had some bad glitches and well, it is 2 years old now.

This stands out from the crowd. Great specs, best keyboard out there and security to match. It would be nice to see someone else play with the Apples, Samsungs and LGs of the world. I love that BB is still giving the MicroSD storage option also.


October 21, 2015, 3:44 pm

Super excited for this bad boy!


October 21, 2015, 4:37 pm

Yep, this covers all the bases. Wish them only the best!

Wayne Bennett

October 21, 2015, 5:15 pm

I'm probably a go to get it. I want and we need BlackBerry to succeed.


October 21, 2015, 8:48 pm

Is the Priv Exciting?
Dual Curved 5.4" Screen
Elegant Design
Thinner than the Note 5
18MP camera
Key board/Slide out
Big Battery
Android OS
Massive Battery
Extra Secure
Built in BB Hub and integrated BB features
Is it Exciting?


October 21, 2015, 9:33 pm

I never thought I might want another Blackberry.....until now


October 22, 2015, 4:50 am

give me something like BB Q5/Q10 with these features

1) full android
2) keys that can function as trackpad
3) touchscreen display
4) good cpu, at least 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM and microsd slot
5) LTE
6) usb-otg
7) full android OS


October 22, 2015, 8:35 am

Official Specifications.. Looks AWSOME!


October 26, 2015, 2:18 pm

I second that.
Q5 is an amazing phone. Only issues with it are the poor GPS functionalities (location tracking is very bad) and lack of apps (android apps through amazon market place or side-loading aren't that great...you can never really logon to your gmail account to get full functionality). Otherwise a fantastic phone and I would love to have an upgraded version.
It will be sad to see the OS10 go, it is such a good OS. Hopefully they can adapt the Android OS to make it as close as possible to BB OS10. (the swipe gestures on BB are too good).


October 27, 2015, 6:08 am

I think it's SAD that Blackberry produces this MAGNIFICENT piece
of engineering and the article title is "Is it worth getting excited
about?", and Apple adds an extra gig of RAM to their iPhone to FINALLY
get 2GB (in 2015) and the whole internet goes nuts! YES IT IS WORTH
GETTING EXCITED ABOUT! An Android phone with a QWERTY keyboard and
top-notch specs?! COUNT ME THE HELL IN! Never owned a Blackberry due to
software, but this is a WINNER on every occasion!


October 29, 2015, 4:33 pm

pre-ordered! - I'm not too keen on the "portrait" keyboard layout but it was starting to look like the only alternative was paying Verti £10,000+ to custom-make one. I write contracts. Sometimes I have to write contracts very quickly on my lap in a train or a car or a cafe. I need a physical keyboard for this - you don't want predictive text in this scenario let me tell you...


November 2, 2015, 4:19 pm

forgot expandable storage! :)

Iain MacKenzie

December 13, 2015, 3:49 pm

Here are some bullet points before giving more detail:

- keyboard: beautifully usable as mentioned.
- trackpad (capacitive keyboard): works smoothly with a light touch once you get the feel for it - again allows very speedy editing, moving around, etc
- screen: large, bright, crisp and clear.
- build quality: solid and durable - frankly like all other BBs I have had - for instance I have dropped it a few times and no screen crack or other damage.
- sound: front-facing speaker is clear - though not quite as good as previous BB phones which were stunning.
- ergonomics: keyboard, slide mechanism, balance in hand, weight, etc are all pleasing - like with any phone I find I quickly develop muscle memory for it, and there are no annoying ergonomic problems.
- speed: I have multiple Apps open most of the time and have no delay problems. That said, I don't really play video games on it so could not comment for that sort of speed-demanding App.
- battery: I always plug it in overnight, and then I find it easily covers heavy use all day (I use it to run my business)
- warmth: it does get warmer than my Android Mega - but I'm not sure if that's just because it's so usable I am on it lots more - most of the time with multiple Apps open. I have read future software updates probably will enable it to run cooler as well.

I used BlackBerry phones in the past because the physical keyboard and trackpad made it a mini-pc and I found them the most productive. Lately however I have used Android phones to get a large screen and the wide selection of Apps.

When I heard BlackBerry were releasing the PRiv with large screen AND physical keyboard AND Android Apps, I was praying it would be best of all worlds - and basically after three weeks use it has turned out to be just that.

The keyboard is a joy to use - I actually enjoy typing emails/texts on the PRiv whereas on a touchscreen it's such a pain - also with a real keyboard it doesn't eat up half your screen every time you want to type anything.

I also love the deep search function which BlackBerry has on top of everything - basically from the home screen I just type the first few letters eg. of a person and it instantly pulls up everything on the phone related to them - texts, appointments, etc. I find this by far the fastest way to get what I want on the screen - rather than digging through apps / screens to find something.

The other great benefit of this phone I want to mention is the BlackBerry Hub - all messages, and anything else you want, eg call logs, in one Inbox. I don't have to dig into various apps to get all my communications - they are all there in one stream - this saves SO MUCH time. I tried to replicate this on my Android phone but it is basically not possible at the moment.

One final selling point for me is keyboard shortcuts - you can long-press any chosen physical key to open an app - eg. 'f' for Facebook. I find it the quickest way to open Apps.

Overall in my view there is no phone out there to match the efficency of this phone - I have tried a wide variety of phones. I really hope BlackBerry continues to refine this product and I am likely to buy future versions.


December 17, 2015, 9:06 am

I agree, if only it ran on bb10.

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