BlackBerry PRIV

One month with the BlackBerry PRIV: How I fell back in love with BlackBerry

I’ve now carried the BlackBerry PRIV for a month and while, as with all new devices, there are things that could be done better I’m madly in love with this new phone but not for the reasons I thought I would be. What was really interesting is that I thought the keyboard would be the killer feature but I didn’t anticipate how much I’d changed since I last carried a BlackBerry and how much retraining I’d need to get back to where I’d been a decade ago.

Let’s talk about the BlackBerry PRIV this week.


With any brand new device there are going to be issues and I think most of mine have to do with the chipset that BlackBerry had to use. The timing of this phone had them use the Snapdragon 808 chipset which is a decent platform but doesn’t have a number of the enhancements the upcoming 820 chipset will have. So the phone sometimes feels slow, likely because the needed additional security that defines it pulls some performance and it also runs hot—both of which will be addressed with the newer chipset.

The big missing feature, particularly for a phone that differentiates on security, is some form of biometric access management (which should also be coming). Finally, there are redundant Google and BlackBerry messaging apps, but this last problem is an easy fix. You just pick one and don’t log into the other, otherwise all of your calendar and messaging notices are doubled, which is annoying. But just a note that suggests you don’t do that would fix this.

So while this is a decent first effort I expect the next version to be amazing.

Why I Love The PRIV

This is a BlackBerry with apps. For every other recent BlackBerry, the big problem was it just didn’t run the apps I needed to run. Now I have access to the entire Android ecosystem and I have the BlackBerry features I was missing. For Android in particular what was missing was decent security. I was constantly worried that the Android product I had was compromised because it was so incredibly vulnerable. I don’t have those concerns with the PRIV. Now, I’ll grant you this is as much about mindset and my trust for BlackBerry, but it is also because I’ve looked at the solution and it has an app that tests security that gives me peace of mind.

Now, here was the interesting thing about the keyboard. After around a decade of not using one regularly I found I didn’t use the mechanical keyboard at first, I fell back to using and silently cursing the screen keyboard. After forcing myself to use the keyboard again: Holy crap! My typing speed and—more importantly—my typical accuracy, significantly increased. Subjectively, I’m typing about 3x faster on the mechanical keyboard and I rarely miss-key, but on a screen keyboard I typically miss-key almost once per line. Why the hell we ever gave up mechanical keyboards is beyond me. This is one of those cases where the really stupid technology won.

The final thing is the smaller size. Don’t get me wrong, I initially had issues with moving from a monster phone down to one that is smaller but carrying that big phone was kind of a pain in that it tended to get caught on things (particularly airline seatbelts for some reason) and folks made fun of the size of my phone. Now I may eventually go back to a larger screen but it is actually kind of nice to not have this annoyance now.

Wrapping Up:

Like all first attempts the PRIV isn’t perfect but it is far better than most and it has been, and continues to be my favorite phone. If someone had asked me a few months ago if I’d ever thought a BlackBerry would be my favorite phone I would have said it was impossible, but this month it is and it clearly wasn’t. Of course part of this for me is also because not only does this phone run all the apps but it is pretty unique and everyone and their brother doesn’t have one. It is admittedly kind of fun to pop the keyboard and have folks get a WTF look on their faces. It reminds me a lot of using an iPod and an iPhone in the early years back when people said “Wow!” and didn’t yawn because everyone they knew had one too.

So, part of the reason I love this phone is I have one and you don’t. It turns out that I’m really not a “one size fits all” type of guy.

22 thoughts on “One month with the BlackBerry PRIV: How I fell back in love with BlackBerry”

  1. just_stoppin_by

    thanks for the review, I have a Z30 and I can run pretty much any apps that I want ever since I side loaded snap so the app thing is not what I’m looking for in a new phone. I had a storm 2 before and it was the best phone design I ever had, the only issue was that it was slow and was running BB7. I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these priv to test.

    1. Honestly, I think you’ll be disappointed. Android users will love the Priv, but it’s not up to snuff for those of us accustomed to the more advanced BlackBerry 10 OS.

      1. I just got my Z30 USB charging port repaired last week so I may wait until all bugs are worked out. my Z30 still works great after 2 years and I get a full 8-10 hours of heavy use on a full battery. thanks for the feedback

      2. Jörgen Larsson

        I couldn’t agree more. Priv is a fantastic Android phone but I gave mine away to my son and went back to my Passport Silver edition :0)

        Once you get used to the bigger Passport keyboard you can’t live without it :0)

      3. Well I couldn’t disagree more. I came from a z10 then a passport and after using the Priv for 2 weeks I sold my Passport while the z10 stays in my drawer.

        The Priv is a fantastic phone that offers everything that BlackBerry 10 failed to offer to satisfaction.

        This phone is the Passport and z10 all in one. And I was a hard-core bb7 to bb10 user. This is my first android phone and the switch was seamless.

  2. Biometric security on phones is not as secure as picture password. Somebody can lift your fingerprint and spoof it rather easily. As for face scanners, holding a picture of the owner up works. I’ve done it.

    As for apps, which ones, specifically, did you feel were missing? I have over 150 apps installed on my Passport and don’t feel that I’m missing anything.

    1. You can’t spoof a fingerprint easily or trick facial recognition with a photo on biometric security that’s worth anything. It was demonstrated that hackers could spoof a fingerprint for Apple’s TouchID, but it was a complex, convoluted process that was by no means trivial. The facial recognition in Windows 10 can’t be tricked with a photo. It can’t even be tricked with an identical twin.

      1. I doubt that very strongly. I have recently been able to defeat facial recognition on Android devices with a snapshot taken with my Passport.

        Additionally, it’s not cool for privacy and security minded individuals to share their biometric information.

        There is literally nothing more secure th? n a BlackBerry with a decent password and picture password. Ten tries and the device becomes a paperweight.

        1. There’s no room for doubt. You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. It’s been demonstrated. There are videos. Google it.

          I also have defeated facial recognition on Android with a photo. I didn’t say it can’t be done. I said it can’t be done against biometric authentication that is worth anything. Android doesn’t qualify for that condition.

          I’m not sure what you’re referring to with the “not cool to share biometric information”. It’s not cool for anyone to share authentication information–privacy and security minded or not. That includes all authentication, not just biometrics, and I’m not sure how it would even be possible to share biometric information. It’s biometric.

          The 10 tries and it becomes a paperweight thing is not a unique feature of BlackBerry. iOS has done the same thing for years, and I imagine there are settings that will do the same on Android and Windows Phone.

          I’m not knocking the security of BlackBerry. It’s the one thing BlackBerry does well. I’m just saying that the security of other mobile platforms is generally just as good and that there is nothing uniquely better about security on BlackBerry 10 OS.

          1. IOS can be jailbroken. Android can be rooted. Those devices do not become unusable when stolen. The thief simply jailbreaks/roots them. That’s one difference of many.

            Biometric logins have been evaluated by BlackBerry and deemed not secure enough at present. This is one reason high-clearance environments still use BlackBerry devices.

            I’m not going to argue with you about this because you clearly lack the level of knowledge required to say anything but trollish misinformation.

          2. I’m curious to know what part of anything I have said you consider to be “trollish” or “misinformation”.

            I don’t think we need to argue at all. I’ve been a CISSP-ISSAP for 14 years, though, and do this for a living so I think it’s safe for us to have a discussion–even if we have a difference of opinion.

            I can’t speak about Android, but your understanding of jailbreaking iOS is incorrect. Yes, the owner of an iOS device can jailbreak it–I think it’s dumb, but it’s possible. A thief, however, cannot just jailbreak a default / properly-configured iOS device. You must successfully log in and disable Find My Phone to bypass Activation Lock.

          3. Very good and mature responses, Tony.
            I’ve used a few OSes and prefer BB10 for efficiency and security and rooting is definitely not an option. You are correct in that we all can have opinions and discussions without name calling or troll accusations. Apple typically responds quickly to security issues though. I’ve been a Mac user and loved their products for over twenty years, but I’m not a big iOS fan. It’s a great app platform but the most restrictive and inflexible OS and really any platform could be an app champ with developer support. But it would be a dull world if everyone was made to use or like only one solution.

          4. Android already, as noted, makes some security sacrifices over BB10 and the phone is only as secure as the weakest link. PIN numbers and passwords are inherently insecure. IBM’s studies in the 1980s identified them as inadequate yet we still use them. The new sonic biometrics technology from Qualcomm is, on paper, far better than what we’ve been using but, even flawed, biometrics are generally better than an obvious PIN or password and given folks tend to write complex stuff down, often more secure than an otherwise more difficult password or PIN.

  3. Has the author done the update to the Priv that was sent out? You mentioned that it got “slow” at times. I’m wondering if this wasn’t an issue before Blackberry sent out the latest patch/update to fix this issue?

    1. It was an issue. The software update definitely smoothed things out .. and improved the camera. My Priv runs better.

      1. Agreed after the software update performance improved a lot. Still runs hot though, but that was a problem with the 808 that the 820 should fix. It isn’t horrible but I notice the heat.

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