Monday, November 23, 2015

Blackberry Priv Initial Thoughts

I haven't written a blog entry for quite awhile and thought that I would try to restart my blog entries with the newest smartphone that I tried which is the Blackberry Priv. This will be one blog entry among many regarding my thoughts/feelings about the Blackberry Priv as I continue to use it.

In terms of the specifications for the phone, I will summarize it briefly (all of this taken from Blackberry's website *HERE*) but it has a 5.4" diagonal screen size at a 16:9 aspect ration. The resolution is 2560 x 1440 with 24-bit color depth at 540PPI. It has an 18MP autofocus rear camera capable of 4K recordings at 30fps or HD 1080p recordings at 60fps and a 2 MP front camera capable of 720p HD video recording. The version that I have/tested PRIV-1 (US model) comes with wireless charging (the Canadian model PRIV-3) does not come with wireless charging. For the processor specs, the Blackberry Priv comes with a Qualcomm 8992 Snapdragon 808 Hexa-Core, 64 bit Adreno 418, 600MHz GPU. For the memory, it comes 3GB of RAM and 32GB of Flash memory. It also supports expandable memory via the microSD slot (up to 2 TB). For the SIM card size, it uses the nanoSIM card format.

In terms of what makes this phone unique, it is that it is a Blackberry running Android OS and not the proprietary OS that Blackberry makes which is Blackberry 10. Out of the box, the version of Android is 5.1.1. For Android lovers, what makes this phone unique is that it has a built-in sliding keyboard and that has some PRIVacy features built into the phone.

I am one of the unique people who will generally carry around both a Blackberry phone and an Android phone at the same time. Prior to getting my hands on the Blackberry Priv, the phones that I would have with me were my Blackberry Passport and my OnePlus One (or my LG Nexus-4). In terms of Blackberry devices, I've had/used a Blackberry Bold 9700, a Blackberry Q10, and a Blackberry Passport. In terms of Android devices, I've had/used a Sony Ericsson X10 Mini, a Samsung Nexus-S, an LG Nexus-4, and a OnePlus One. I would generally swap between Android devices but keep my Blackberry phone with me since I generally type out very long e-mails and I've just never gotten comfortable using the onscreen keyboards from the various different phones.

In terms of the "flavour" of Android on the Blackberry Priv, it looks/feels like Google stock Android except for a few applications like Yahoo Finance, Blackberry Hub, BBM, and DTEK. The Blackberry Priv also uses Blackberry's own version of Calendar and Contacts.

You can see Blackberry's video introducing the Blackberry Priv on the YouTube video below:

You can also see Blackberry's very nice & artistic promotional video on their Blackberry Priv below.

When I first opened the box and configured the Blackberry Priv, I tested using the transfer of information from my LG Nexus-4 to my Blackberry Priv using NFC but because I had a lot of Android apps on my LG Nexus-4, I stopped it midway while it was downloading my Android apps onto the phone. However, prior to doing this, I noticed that the phone was somewhat hot. Up until that point, my phone was downloading a lot of Android apps from the Google Play store via WiFi after I used the NFC connection/configuration option for the initial configuration.

I decided to do a factory reset of the Blackberry Priv and this time instead of using the NFC connection, I selected my OnePlus One as the phone to base my Blackberry Priv's installation and then I manually selected the applications from the list of applications which were installed on my OnePlus One. After doing this, I later decided that it would probably be better for me to do a factory reset again and this time configure the device as a brand new device and then manually go into the Google Play store in order to download the apps that I wanted. This was my final set-up for the Blackberry Priv and was the starting point that I decided to keep.

After installing a few of the Google apps that I was sure that I wanted on the device (ex: Netflix, Bell TV, NFB, Kodi, TMN Go, Crave TV, and the Amazon Apps Store), I powered off my Blackberry Priv and decided to let it charge to 100%.

When the battery was at 100%, I powered my Blackberry Priv back on and tested out Netflix and it worked very well. I watched an entire 30 minute television episode and the earlier issue that I had with my Blackberry Priv getting unusually hot when I was initially installing applications on it was not as noticeable but I still noticed the phone being warmer than it was initially prior to me streaming the video. I then tested out YouTube and this also worked very well.

In terms of the keyboard on the Blackberry Priv, after having used my Blackberry Passport keyboard for ~1 year, I found the keys on the Blackberry Priv to be somewhat small but I didn't have any problems typing with the Blackberry Priv's keyboard. I liked being able to access the numbers via the physical keyboard as I had done with my Blackberry Bold 9700 or my Blackberry Q10. I also liked that just like on the Blackberry Passport, the Blackberry Priv's keyboard is touch sensitive and can be used like a trackpad. You can use it to scroll through webpages or scroll through documents or even the Android's home screen. In terms of using the keyboard, I did find that because of the sliding nature of the keyboard with the shape/size of the phone, it was a bit "top heavy" but it wasn't uncomfortable for me to type a relatively long e-mail to a colleague.

The screen is slightly curved (it has curved sides) and although this looks very nice, as someone who likes to put a "tempered glass screen protector" on most devices, I think it will be difficult to find a tempered glass screen protector that either covers the entire screen (including the curved edges) or the tempered glass will be more expensive than typical tempered glass smartphone screen protectors that have a completely flat screen.

I've only been using the Blackberry Priv for under 1 week while I wait for my orders of a microSD card, a nanoSIM card (to replace the microSIM card that I was using in my OnePlus One or my LG Nexus-4), a tempered glass screen protector, and a case to arrive (before I fully switch over). So far, during the week that I've had the Blackberry Priv, I've been enjoying it. The Android apps that I enjoy using work seamlessly on the Blackberry Priv. I like having a physical keyboard that I can use to type out long emails. If I don't want to use the physical keyboard, I can also use the onscreen virtual keyboard when it is more convenient.

If you have any comments/questions regarding this blog entry, please don't hesitate to leave a comment in the comments section below. Please note that the comments are moderated and any comment containing a URL link (whether embedded or not) will automatically be flagged as spam and will not be posted.

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