Sunday Evening Chat: Blackberry Priv Review


Regular Member
Rescue Squad
Dec 23, 2009
Reaction score

What time is it? GAME TIME!!!! (1.3 secs left)

Since the news surfaced that Blackberry may be making an Android device, I found myself excited about a device with a physical keyboard. Reminiscing about the old Motorola Droid and how fast and accurate I was able to type on a slider, I was happy to welcome Blackberry to the dark side. And now that it is here in my hands, let's discuss my very first ever Blackberry device (how ironic that I passed up the Storm 2 for the Droid 6 years ago and now I stand with a Blackberry that is running a clean version of Android).

  • Keyboard: Let's start with why I purchased this device in the first place, the physical keyboard. The raised keys look and feel good in the hands (or thumbs to speak) but unfortunately that is just it. You are tapping on crowded keys with your thumbs, and as much as I imagined the old Droid keyboard I was quickly reminded that not only is this not a Droid, but I am making more errors typing on the physical keyboard than I did with a touch screen. I have spent so much time with a touch screen kb that it would take time to get use to the cramped keys on the Priv. If you are coming from Blackberry then the keyboard will feel native but if you were one who begged for an Android slider, having used a touchscreen for awhile, you may find yourself struggling to go backwards. Overall I give the physical keyboard a pass but it may not be for the masses. Also if you decide to go with the Priv, you may find it better to turn off the keyboard gestures. I found the gestures to be buggy and in the way.
  • Camera: The camera was really good. I was impressed with the photos it took and the software that BB used to process the photos. The camera app loaded quick and smooth every time and taking photos was almost instant. I have to rate the camera experience as being one of the top features of this phone and Blackberry deserves kudos for it.
  • UI and Performance: Blackberry choosing the 808 really hurt the experience. Despite the 3 GB of ram, the phone stuttered, especially when scrolling up and down a page. No matter if it was a website or scrolling through Tapatalk, I could not get past the choppiness felt when navigating even when turning off animations (developer options).
  • Android UI: Another plus for this device, I really loved that Blackberry decided to leave the UI to Google versus making their own. Though I preferred to use the Google Now Launcher, I was impressed with how clean the BB home launcher was. They added a few minor UI tweaks, i.e., the recent apps, but nothing that was overbearing. @bkdodger did comment on how busy the notification icons looked in the drop down menu, but that would not be a make or break for most. Also, kudos to Blackberry for not going crazy with the Blackberry apps. For those that were curious, yes Android Pay works with the Blackberry Priv.
  • Signal Strength and Call Quality: Compared to my Nexus 6, which has been very good with signal strength, the Priv has been up to par with my Nexus. I did not have any issues with signal drop offs or a slow connection. Considered an Enhanced 4G LTE device, the Blackberry Priv makes HD calls on AT&T's network.
  • Who would I recommend this device for: As happy as I am to welcome Blackberry to Android, I hate that this device may not find a niche. Being priced as a high end smartphone, it does not offer anything that would set itself apart from the devices on the market. The (custom) apps they offer are not anything special; in fact, I would argue that they are long in the tooth. I just can not see where the Blackberry apps added to what I did not already have. For exchange emails I use Mailwise, which looks identical to the Blackberry email app, and if I want a combined email experience (which I don't) I have gmail. No one uses BBM anymore (at least the people in my circles), and Marshmallow offers a great deal of security to where I am not searching for a more secured Android device. As I told an AT&T rep, if I was being graded on returns and I were dealing with business customers looking at the Priv, I would tell them to get the Note 5. The apps and features on the Note 5 are designed to keep up with forward moving businesses whereas, the business apps on the Priv are nothing special.
For its first Android device, Blackberry did an excellent job and I give it a solid B-. The camera is good, the build quality is great, and they did not go crazy with the UI. Yeah the speaker is lacking, but the screen is beautiful. Unfortunately the Priv just does not fit the need of high end business customers. With the iPhone and the Note 5 offering everything the Priv can offer plus more, Blackberry can not compete in this market. A better processor, releasing with Marshmallow, a stronger speaker, and a more competitive price point would have made this a better buy. But right now $740, even while buying on the Next plan, is just too much for a phone with bugs, a sluggish UI, and (quite frankly) not a better buy than the other phones on the market.

Blackberry says they went all in with this device and it shows, but unfortunately, it is not enough as they left a little on the table. Despite that, I think that BB could learn and improve upon this device to possibly offer a more competitive device next year. But if this is truly it for Blackberry (sadly) I don't think they will be missed. The Priv was just 3 to 4 years too late.

Ill post pics in the next several posts.
Last edited by a moderator:

^ On avg that is about how much I use my phone on a given work day. So on average I would say it was on par with my Nexus 6. But since I only had it a few days and had not allow the battery to set in I chose not to really weigh in on battery life as I can not give a fair assessment.
I notice you referred to it in the past tense a few times.

The camera WAS good, etc etc.
Did you return it or are you still driving it?
I notice you referred to it in the past tense a few times.

The camera WAS good, etc etc.
Did you return it or are you still driving it?
I returned it. I could not deal with the headphone jack bug. I listen to music to and from work via Google music. After 2-3 mins the music just stopped for no reason. I checked everything, did a factory reset, disabled att drive mode and still no fix. I did not highlight that as a major bug because I may have had a defective unit. So I'm going to do some research to see if the issue is wide spread.

Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk
I did however forget to talk about the added benefit of the external sd card.

Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk
First att then T-Mobile. Then again the Priv has been on shelves for over 6 months so it has reached its eol. I personally felt this device was overpriced and the market felt the same way.

T-Mobile Pulls The BlackBerry Priv From Its Website

Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk
I miss a few things from my Blackberry days... Mainly how it handled messages, emails, and calls. All in once nice ORGANIZED place. I hope the rumors of Samsung mimicking that are true and they do a good job with it.... Combine that with an Apple like lock screen with transparent or no backgrounds around notifications and I am sold...... I would also like to see a pin lock like on CM where you don't have to hit enter or ok... Just punch in the numbers and it unlocks upon the last digit..... I really don't need a better camera than what my Note 4 has......

But back on topic very nice write up! IF I could get one cheap enough I wouldn't mind playing with one for a day or so.
Yea, I tried talking my boss into one so I could play with it.

Sent from Turbo II
It seems like a really good phone, but the price is way too high for the average customer. Couple that with so many phones on the market at once and it was doomed to not sell good. I can't imagine being new to the smartphone market right now and walking into a phone store. There are sooooo many choices, and that may be overwhelming for some people that just want an affordable phone to check their mail on, play music, a few games, and check Facebook.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk