Get more out of your BlackBerry Priv with these 8 tips and tricks

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A BlackBerry running on Android might have seemed inconceivable only a few years ago, but the Priv is arguably the company’s most exciting handset in a long time. True to its promise, BlackBerry has kept up with monthly security updates, performance boosts, and a looming path to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. There are plenty of goodies within this phone, some of which you might find both appealing and surprising. Below are a few of our favorites, whether you’re looking to save time or a little energy.

Shortcuts for the physical keyboard

Being one of the hallmarks of the Priv, the physical keyboard makes for an incredibly useful navigation tool. Swiping up, down, or sideways across the touch-sensitive keys allows you to scroll through the home screen, webpages, and apps. Additionally, you can save up to 52 shortcuts using the hard keys. The letter “C” can be set to compose an email, for instance, or a long press of “A” to launch Angry Birds. The shortcut can apply to any app installed on your phone, or a function of the core apps, such as your speed dial. However, doing this does negate the type-to-search function built into the physical keyboard, even if can still make use of long press shortcuts without losing that.

To set up the feature, tap the apps icon on the home screen to launch the app tray. Afterward, tap the gear icon in the upper-right corner and follow that with Typing Action > Use a short-press keyboard shortcut > Keyboard shortcuts. A list of all default shortcuts will appear, along with an empty set of long-press ones. You can then press a key or hold it down and assign it to an app or function. You can also edit any default shortcut by tapping on the letter and going to Edit or Delete.

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Ted Kritsonis/Digital Trends
Ted Kritsonis/Digital Trends

For ideas on different functions that can be tied to a shortcut, tap the addition icon next to the letter and select All shortcuts. A myriad of options will appear, offering plenty to choose from. For a quick setup, press or hold down any key while the Priv is on its home screen and you can make a selection without having to go through the app tray menu.

Use swipe shortcuts to save time

The Home button on the Priv also acts as a quick launcher for three distinct shortcuts. Holding it down brings up three icons for quick access to features such Device Search, Google Now, and BlackBerry Hub. This is customizable, however, meaning you can select whatever you want. Google Now does remain assigned by default, but the other two are wide open. Either one can be assigned to a specific app or to carry out a specific shortcut, like sending an email or text message.

Go to Settings > Swipe shortcuts, tap the button you want to change, and select you’re desired action from the pop-up list.

Use the BlackBerry productivity tab to skip steps

The main reason the Priv has a curved screen is to accommodate the productivity tab that slides in from either side. This provides a quick snapshot of pertinent info related to your calendar, email, tasks, and contacts. In effect, the tab is the closest thing to accessing the Hub a la BlackBerry 10. Tapping anything that appears will take you straight to the app it uses. Tapping on an email, for example, will immediately open it. However, it won’t present you with the option to reply unless you go to the Hub.

Future updates will likely add to the actionable features. The productivity tab is enabled by default, but you can disable it by going to Settings > Display > Productivity tab.

Color code BlackBerry Hub accounts

It might seem like a mundane thing to do, but assigning colors to your accounts is an easy way to stay organized if your Hub is constantly buzzing with incoming and outgoing emails and messages. To do so, launch the BlackBerry Hub and tap Settings > Accounts. Choose any one of your accounts, tap Account Color, and select your preferred hue. The corresponding color will appear in the notification shade for incoming messages to that account, along the left side of the screen in BlackBerry Hub and to the right when viewing your listed accounts in the Hub menu.

Delete email from both the Hub and server

Swiping to delete emails from Hub can also be set to remove emails from the server, which can be very useful for keeping spam or unwanted emails from piling up. The first time you delete an email, a pop-up window will ask if you want additionally delete the email from the server. If you choose not to do so, but have a change of heart, you can easily delete it by going to Hub > Settings > Delete.

Flip to mute or hold to stay awake

These two default features are small, yet potentially useful. The flip to mute function will put your phone on silent when you place it face down during an incoming call, while the hold to stay awake features keeps the display on longer when holding the device in your hand. The latter negates the need to set a specific interval for the display that would apply to every situation. You can easily turn these on by going to Settings > Advanced Interactions.

Use Advanced Settings to do more with the camera

BlackBerry has updated the Priv since launch, and in doing so, opened up some camera features that were previously missing. Now, it’s possible to shoot widescreen photos, see when HDR or low-light mode is active, and check when auto-focus has been sped up. You can also currently apply one of 18 real-time filters before shooting a photo, a number that is sure to increase with future updates.

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Ted Kritsonis/Digital Trends
Ted Kritsonis/Digital Trends

If you would like to customize more features, tap the gear icon in the upper-left corner of the camera interface to open the Advanced Settings. Here, you can add geolocation, switch the video mode to 4K at 30fps, and set images and clips to save directly to a MicroSD card instead of your phone’s internal storage. This can help retain memory when working with huge 4K videos.

See what access your apps have to your information

BlackBerry has made it a point to show how much access each of your apps have to your personal info. Using the Dtek app, go to Apps and choose any installed piece of software to see what it has access to. This applies to anything from your contacts, microphone, and location. You can also tap on a detail to view a map of where it used that particular piece of information, how long it did so for, and what time it intially started. If anything stands out or comes off as alarming, you have the option to set up notifications, stop the app, or uninstall it right then and there.

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