PRIV Verizon NJTechReviews

BlackBerry. Yes, BlackBerry is back with an Android smartphone that is now available on Verizon. Or rather launched on Big Red, right after the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, and LG G5 were announced. BlackBerry’s PRIV device is unique, it has the staples that the company is known for like a physical keyboard and security. But, in a surprise to almost everyone, it is running Android.

If you would have told me that BlackBerry would actually launch an Android phone just a few months back, I might have called your crazy. The idea of phenomenal hardware from BlackBerry, mixed with a great open source operating system is a promising one. The BlackBerry PRIV is now available on pretty much all the major carriers in the United States, but today we have our full thoughts on the Verizon unit for you.

Similar to that of the Galaxy S7 Edge, the PRIV has a curved 5.43-inch QHD display with a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass and a resolution of 2560 X 1440. While it is not an AMOLED display, it does look pretty good and is by far the best display BlackBerry has ever released. The unique edge design is on par with that of Samsung’s edged devices. I will note that from a design standpoint, the curved display looks pretty darn nice on a slider. With that being said, the curve still does not really serve a true purpose and is not as noticeable like on the S7 Edge.

Going into the overall design of the PRIV, it looks like a classic BlackBerry. Specifically with a mostly black design paired with some silver highlights and etching. This design shows the evolution of BlackBerry’s over the years, it looks like a classic slider device. It feels pretty nice in the hand, with a soft plastic build on the back. It has a unique slanted checkered pattern, along with two logos on the back. You have a big BlackBerry one in the middle and a Verizon logo on the bottom.

Along the right hand side of the device you have a volume rocker and in between you have a customizable button. The left hand side has your power and sleep button, all of the buttons have a silver coloring to them. A micro USB charging port and headphone jack are on the bottom, while the SIM card slot and micro SD card slot are on the top. Below the display you will find the speaker grill and a microphone on the top. Above the display you will find a BlackBerry logo, which makes for a pretty clean design.

This BlackBerry’s first Android device, it is running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with a BlackBerry user interface. And yes the Android Lollipop Easter Egg is still on-board. To put it simply, it is a nice software experience and is pretty clean. The application draw also holds your widgets and shortcuts. The Edge shortcut on the right hand side lets you easily access your calendar, mail, tasks, and contacts. Of course this is customizable, as you can change the placement and a few other design options. Overall, this Peek function does not really give you an added advantage or easier way of doing a task.

The biggest change to Android on the BlackBerry PRIV would have to be DTEK by BlackBerry. This is essentially the security feature of BlackBerry’s imported over to Android. It will let you minor your security status, how applications are using your information, setup your screen lock, see encryption details and much more. It is a pretty neat function and it might make Android a more secure operating system, I can almost see BlackBerry eventually licensing out this technology.

BlackBerry choose to go with a 1.8GHz hexa-core processor with 3GB of RAM, it’s an interesting choice. Especially with a majority of the flagship devices choosing to go with 4GB of RAM. To be blunt, the PRIV performs okay in daily use, it does crash sometimes and is not always the speediest device. Then again it is BlackBerry’s first Android device, so they have to be proud of how far they have come. In terms of our testing, we ran the Antutu performance test on the device and it scored it 60,298 which is not the best. In fact devices like the Google Nexus 6 and even the several years old iPhone 5S beat it out.

Lastly, lets talk about the camera on the BlackBerry PRIV, they claim that it can replace your DSLR. As you might have expected this is not true, it only has an 18 megapixel lens on the back. While it is the best camera yet on a BlackBerry, it is not something to rave about. It doesn’t perform as well as the cameras on the iPhone 6s or the Galaxy S7 Edge. The shutter speed is not that fast and the images are pretty much hit or miss. While it certainly does not live up to a DSLR, but it also may not be your best bet for an Instagram post.

The BlackBerry PRIV is a unique device, but it is not for everyone or really anyone. It is remarkable that the device is even here as BlackBerry has truly beat the odds. I think the best piece of the PRIV is the DTEK by BlackBErry security feature, like I stated before, I would be surprised to see this licensed to other devices. As of right now the PRIV does a few things well and a lot that are not really up to par. Unless you really have your heart set on getting a BlackBerry running Android with a physical keyboard, your best bet is to look at Verizon’s other devices. We would like to thank Verizon for providing us with a copy of the “BlackBerry PRIV”.


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