Can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Don’t tell BlackBerry! After years of building their own mobile operating system, BlackBerry has decided to go with Android as the base layer of their newest smartphone and relegate the BlackBerry touches to additional layers. The Priv (short for privacy…I like pronouncing it with a British accent in my head) is the phone BlackBerry depends on for its survival in the mobile headset industry. Will the Priv be the revival of BlackBerry or the final gasp? Let’s dive in!

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Looks

The Priv doesn’t look much like the BlackBerries of yesteryear. It doesn’t look like a Z10, Z30, Passport, Classic or anything of recent BlackBerry manufacturing. It’s a whole new smartphone and I wonder if it’s BlackBerry’s attempt to distance itself from the previous models and establish a new brand identity in the minds of the consumers.

The Priv has curved edges on both sides of the screen but they don’t add any functionality, they’re just pretty. The display looks nice, par for the course for top end smartphones. But the defining physical feature of the Priv is the slide out keyboard. Yes, BlackBerry has made all touch devices and no, they don’t care about typical design template for smartphones. There’s some use in having a physical keyboards for people who write emails and long form documents on a smartphone and that’s who BlackBerry is thinking of here. The keyboard is wonderfully made and clicky; if you’re a business professional, consider coming back to the physical keyboard, it might just make you more productive.

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What It Does

As far as the rest of the package, BlackBerry didn’t just throw a keyboard on a touchscreen phone and call it a day. They built in some specific keyboard shortcuts for quick navigation without having to move your thumbs to the screen. It also has a big battery, great processor, 32GB of storage, and a microSD slot.

The camera is 18 megapixels with optical image stabilization which results in great pictures, even in low light settings. Another key feature, one exclusive to BlackBerry, is the layer of security the Priv has on top of the base Android operating system. For $699, it’s a proper flagship which should give you pause when considering an iPhone. It just depends on what features you need in a phone. Maybe a physical keyboard won’t make you more productive but I like physical keyboards and it’s ok for the consumer to make decisions based on preference. Is it right for you?

Meet Weston Lanpher

Weston is our professional gadget reviewer. Nothing thrills him more than being able to get his hands on the latest and greatest in electronics.