Android fans who still desire a physical keyboard have got something to celebrate, because after months of rumors, BlackBerry released an Android phone. It’s called the Priv, and here’s everything we know so far.
Support, price, and pre-order details for the Priv
BlackBerry CEO John Chen said at CES 2016 that the Priv would arrive on Verizon and Sprint “soon,” but while the former may have come true in March, it looks like Sprint subscribers won’t ever get the option from buying the device from their carrier.
@CU4ABeer Sorry to say but we will no longer carry the BlackBerry PRIV. If this changes in the future we will update customers. JXC
— Sprint Care (@sprintcare) April 8, 2016
Sprint’s “Social Customer Service Team” tweeted at several customers asking for when the Priv would become available on the network — to which Sprint replied the carrier is not interested in selling BlackBerry’s flagship Android device.
The announcement adds fuel to the fire of the Priv’s failure to reignite interest in BlackBerry’s smartphones. CEO Chen said last week the company only sold 600,000 Privs in its fourth quarter, and the company recently cut the device’s price down by $50.
Initially, BlackBerry opened up orders for the Priv in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada in late 2015, and expanded availability to Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Germany in early 2016. Here are all the places where you can buy or reserve an unlocked, SIM-free BlackBerry Priv, as well as the pricing for each of those countries.
- ShopBlackBerry U.S. ($700 USD)
AT&T was the first U.S. carrier to offer the BlackBerry Priv. It’s available in retail stores and online, and customers can purchase the phone for $250 with a two-year contract or via AT&T Next with $0 down. You have your choice of Next 24 (30 payments) for $24.67 per month, Next 18 (24 months) for $30.84 per month, or Next 12 (20 months) for $37 per month. The total comes to $740.
If you’re wondering about T-Mobile, the carrier has offered the device since January 26. You can get the Priv with the Uncarrier’s Jump! On Demand program for $0 upfront and $34 a month for 18 months or you can get the Priv for $0 down and $30-a-month payments for 24 months. All the info is in T-Mobile’s press release.
Verizon began offering BlackBerry’s Priv on March 4, and is offering the phone for $720 off-contract, or $30 per month for 2 years.
- ShopBlackBerry Italy (779 euros)
- ShopBlackBerry Netherlands (779 euros)
- ShopBlackBerry Spain (779 euros)
We’ll continue to update this section as more pricing information becomes available.
Marshmallow and security updates
In a recent interview with Android Central, Ron Louks, Blackberry’s president of devices, commented on the upcoming update to Android Marshmallow 6.0 and monthly security updates. Louks didn’t give a firm date for Marshmallow, but said the update should hit “sometime in the new year,” at least confirming that BlackBerry Priv users will not have to wait long for it.
On security updates, Louks said BlackBerry would try to adhere — at least in Europe — to pushing security updates within a month of Google releasing them. As more malware and vulnerabilities hit Android, manufacturers are being called upon to quickly update devices to make sure users are safe and secure. BlackBerry will import its own security systems as well, to ensure any vulnerabilities are mitigated before Google patches them.
So far, BlackBerry has kept to its word, with the company releasing its February security patch on the first day of the month. As with other Android updates, these security patches hit the unlocked Priv devices first, then carrier variants.
High-end specs and Android
BlackBerry has gone all out with its first Android phone, so the specs are about as high-end as any other flagship Android phone — unfortunately, the Priv also has a high price tag to match.The phone has an intriguing slider design, the likes of which we haven’t seen in a number of years., so that users can choose between a virtual keyboard or a physical keyboard. When you slide the screen back, a full QWERTY keyboard in the old-school BlackBerry style is revealed. The keys are touch sensitive for scrolling and cursor control, too, so you can use it as a trackpad if need be.
Adding flair to the eccentric design is an immersive dual-curved screen made out of Corning Gorilla Glass 4. The 5.4-inch OLED packs a pixel resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 and a pixel density of 540ppi. A Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor powers the Priv, along with 3GB of RAM. While it may not be the latest processor, it is the same one found in the LG G4 and Moto X Style Pure Edition, which is to say, it’s more than zippy enough.
BlackBerry placed 32GB of storage in the Priv, which is expandable out to 2TB via a MicroSD card slot. A 3,410mAh battery promises to keep the phone running through 22.5 hours of mixed use, according to BlackBerry. Luckily, it supports Quick Charge 2.0, so even if the Priv doesn’t last as long as BlackBerry says it does, you’ll be able to juice it up quickly.
Related: BlackBerry Classic review
On the back of the phone, there’s an 18-megapixel dual-flash camera that’s certified by Schneider-Kreuznach. The camera app offers settings so you can tweak the photos, and the sensor itself boasts Phase Detection Auto Focus, OIS, and dual-color flash. There’s also a 2-megapixel, front-facing camera.
BlackBerry’s new Android apps
When it comes to software, BlackBerry’s added a few bells and whistles to make Android secure enough to suit its standards. The BlackBerry Hub is included, which brings all your messages into one feed, as are other standard BlackBerry apps like BBM. BlackBerry’s special DTEK for Android software will also alert you when your privacy may be at risk, give you a security rating for your device, and it offers for specific security features, so that you know what’s going on with your personal info and more. You can determine which apps and services are allowed to use your microphone, camera, contacts, and more.
BlackBerry released a range of apps onto the Google Play store in late October. The apps will be pre-installed on the BlackBerry Priv, and are apparently only usable on that device. Users who tried to download the apps were informed that their devices are incompatible.
The apps include: BlackBerry Launcher, Keyboard, Camera, and Services. Password Keeper has been added to store all passwords in a single folder, encrypted and secured by BlackBerry — the app can also import info for previous BlackBerry owners moving to Android. DTEK for BlackBerry and MicrosoftexFat for BlackBerry have also been added to the Google Play store.
Having all of the applications on the Google Play store should make them instantly available without a firmware update. BlackBerry plans to offer an almost stock experience, with additional security and some new applications ported over from BB10.
You can check out all the specs and more information on BlackBerry’s website here.