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News18 » Tech
1-min read

First impressions review: Priv, BlackBerry's first Android phone

BlackBerry devices are known for their security and privacy protections, and the company built some of those features into the Priv's hardware.

Anick Jesdanun | Associated Press

Updated:November 6, 2015, 5:12 PM IST
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First impressions review: Priv, BlackBerry's first Android phone
BlackBerry devices are known for their security and privacy protections, and the company built some of those features into the Priv's hardware.

For years, BlackBerry has struggled to make its BlackBerry 10 phone software a viable alternative to Apple's iPhone and Google's Android. While the company isn't giving up on BlackBerry 10, it's also hedged its bets with its first Android phone.

The new Priv has a physical keyboard, a rarity on Android phones these days. It looks like any other phone until you slide the keyboard out from the bottom, like a desk drawer. It's an engineering feat given that the phone still feels thin, although it's thicker than Samsung's flagship phones and the iPhone.

Typing on Blackberry's keyboard feels much better than it did on the original Motorola Droid in 2009. As my first smartphone, the keyboard model seemed safer given that I wasn't sold on its touch-screen counterpart. But on-screen keyboards have grown on me, and the Priv's physical keyboard slowed me down. Friends who've tried the new device, including former BlackBerry users, felt much the same way.

BlackBerry devices are known for their security and privacy protections, and the company built some of those features into the Priv's hardware. It comes with an app that rates your device security based on factors such as whether you've enabled a passcode. The BlackBerry app also identifies other apps that grab personal information. I saw that Facebook has accessed my location 41 times in the past week, for instance.

Among other notable features:

— The 5.4-inch screen is curved on both sides, similar to Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge devices. Slide a toolbar from the side to access your calendar, messages and contacts. The email app is also more sophisticated than most; it supports rich-text formatting, such as italics and colors, when composing messages.

— BlackBerry offers icons that serve as shortcuts to frequent tasks, such as composing a message, viewing alarms or checking data usage. Windows phones have a similar feature, but like BlackBerry 10, few people use them.

— Battery capacity is also higher than most phones. BlackBerry promises 22.5 hours of mixed use.

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