I have seen people of all strata struggling with crapware laden and out of date smartphones because of the fear of learning a new operating system or device. Meanwhile, the BB10 interface and workflow is relatively intuitive for complex mobile tasks like copying and pasting between email, Web, and document, with the ability to have side by side windows open.
The Blackberry Priv review
Naturally I was intrigued with the release of the Blackberry Priv, an Android device with a substantially modified operating system by Blackberry. I have used the Priv heavily for a few months now, and here are my comments as a very early and long-term traditional Blackberry user.
I’ll start with the things people whine most loudly about. If you are a serious business or prosumer user who needs a rock-solid secure smartphone to work for weeks without rebooting, crashing, or glitching, than the Priv is a good candidate for you to consider.
I like the overall physical qualities of the Priv. The slider works well, I use about 60% touch typing for quick things like web searches and quick texts, and for emails or note taking I use the keyboard the other 40% of the time. The Blackberry Passport does feel to me to be a slightly higher build quality device than the Priv, but the Passport is a less complicated slab form factor with a bigger keyboard. I feel confident the Priv can take substantially more physical abuse than other smartphones and tablets. I get compliments on the attractiveness of the Priv, about the same amount as I got for my Passport. In both cases, nobody mistakes a Priv or Passport for a competing device.
BB10 still has the smoothness/speed edge in multitasking–the Peek functionality is unbeatable. However, the dearth of BB10 business apps meant I had to carry a locked-down Android tablet with my Passport, so I can accept the slightly slower performance on the current Priv Android OS. There has been steady improvement in this regard each month with the monthly Blackberry Android OS/app updates, so I think the difference is ultimately insignificant. I do hope that Blackberry can find a way to bring Peek to their Android phones.
DTEK alerts you to permissions access, and gives shortcuts to configure per app granular permissions with Android 6 Marshmallow. Encrypted by default, extreme resistance to rooting and OS hardening make the Priv one of only a very few Android devices I would ever use.
Yes the Blackberry Priv has only one speaker. Yes, the Priv speaker is loud enough with the portfolio case cover closed. I usually keep the ringer on half-volume and the Priv ringer volume is more than enough.
The Priv and Passport have excellent radio for both WiFi and Bluetooth. I love that I can choose to lock WiFi to 5GHz on both the Priv and Passport, to avoid WiFi with strong signal but poor throughput due to 2.4GHz band congestion.
Qi Wireless Charging
The Priv and Passport both work well with Qi wireless charging, but I feel like the Priv is noticeably more sensitive to positioning on the same Qi charger than the Passport. I love the cool charge edge display on the Priv.
The Priv camera has steadily gotten better on the Priv with software updates. I feel the Priv camera performance is now better than the Passport.