BlackBerry Priv: the best of both worlds?

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Today is the Philippine launch of the latest Blackberry device – The Priv. Expect to see great reviews from Pinoy users who would have a few minutes turning it on and off, checking the camera, testing the speed, appreciating the screen and admiring its beauty.

Manila Bulletin TechNews prides itself on getting the latest gadgets ahead of anybody else in the country, and true to this, we got the Blackberry Priv days before the local launch. Yes, we buy our own gadgets for review to give you our unbiased take about the latest gizmos and gadgets.

BlackBerry attempted to merge the best features of BlackBerry with the greatest features of Android in the Priv. You can now have a physical keyboard, BlackBerry Hub and Android’s Playstore in one device. However, this is Blackberry’s first attempt to power it’s device with Android; as expected there are few minor glitches and annoyances.

The first thing I noticed about the Priv is the display. With dual curved edge, it looks like a relative of the Samsung Galaxy Edge and Edge+. The 5.4inch QXD display is impressive, it has one of the best displays in a mobile device available in the market today.

When you slide the screen up to reveal the full QWERTY keyboard and slide down to hide it, you would hear a snap that assures you that it is solidly built. The keyboard however is not as comfortable as its older siblings. Unlike the Blackberry Passport, the Priv’s keyboards are cramped fitting the 35 keys inside a 3-inch space. As a long-time BlackBerry user, I could also say that it lacks the comfortable bulge of the keys found in the Passport and the Q10.

The rear-facing 18megapix Schneider-Kreuznach camera is impressive. Blackberry said that it is equipped with a “range of professional settings that you could apply as you frame the scene.” The company also claims that it is the only smartphone with dual-color (white and amber) flash, which enables better color balancing and could deliver a more natural and realistic images. The Priv is also capable of taking 4K resolution video at 30fps, other features include PDAS or phase detection auto focus – normally found in DSLRs, Optical Image Stabilization, panoramic shot with both the front and rear facing cameras, and 60fps video in 1080p.

While the rear facing camera could convince any photo-loving-smartphone-user out there, the 2megapix front facing camera however could be a deal breaker for selfie-enthusiasts. You need a lot of light to take mediocre selfie with the Priv and don’t ever attempt to use this device to take selfies in low light environment as you would not be happy with the results.

Also, there is no Gallery App in the Priv, you need to download a third party app to immediately view the pictures that you took or you could use the Google Photos if you’re using that app.

The battery life of the Priv is not as good as the Passport but the 3410 mAh battery is enough for me to last for a day plus a lot more spare power until I find a wall socket to charge or find someone who has a powerbank.

The Priv also has a built-in Chromecast and Miracast to show-off your pictures on your TV and other devices that supports it.

In the age of digital espionage, hacking and i-eavesdropping, privacy has become one of the major issues in getting a new device. According to Blackberry, Priv (formerly knows as Venice) is derived from Privacy “because privacy and security are at the core of Blackberry’s products.”

The security model of Blackberry is worth another page of this article, for ordinary mortals like us, it means: “Whether you’re protecting your personal privacy or business-critical data, the BlackBerry PRIV is designed to keep you safe and secure” and to guarantee that user’s privacy is protected and easily managed, Blackberry integrates security features in the Priv.

It “comes pre-loaded with DTEK application, designed to help users manage and protect their privacy. DTEK tells users which apps access their personal data and shows the overall security of the device based on factors such as the strength of password, encryption settings and the apps that are installed. DTEK also makes recommendations on how users can improve the overall security rating”.

Blackberry successfully merged the best of both worlds with the launch of Priv – a full Android ecosystem with assurance of full security and privacy. The only thing that would hinder Pinoys from buying this device is the price.

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About Art

Tech News Editor of Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation.

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