Yes, BlackBerry has made an Android phone. The manufacturer used to jostle with the likes of Apple, Samsung and Nokia at the very top of the mobile phone tree, but it utterly failed to keep pace with the smartphone revolution, lurching from crisis to crisis refusing to shift from the boxy, physical keyboard designs and its own operating system.
However, after being approached by Android, BlackBerry decided to have a go at making its very own phone that made the most of both the Android ecosystem and the Google Play store while retaining BlackBerry’s security features and of course that physical keyboard. The result is the BlackBerry Priv.
BlackBerry has gone for a 5.4-inch, slightly curved, 2560 x 1440 resolution touchscreen that is a real beauty. The colours are fantastic, it is incredibly sharp and the subtlety of the curves means that you don’t lose anything off the side of the screen. It is responsive and altogether one of the best we’ve seen.
The rear of the device is encased in a tensile weave with a rubbery feel. Usually a phone at the price of the Priv, £559, would sport a metal and glass finish, but there is method to BlackBerry’s madness. The weave provides a tonne of grip, enabling the user to hold it confidently and, more importantly, slide out the physical keyboard with only one hand. Although it doesn’t feel premium, the unique design and elegantly curved screen gives the Priv a distinctive and attractive look.
The keyboard was clearly non-negotiable for BlackBerry. It is one of its unique selling points and is synonymous with the brand. However, it has dragged it into the 21st century. It is fully capacitive, meaning that running your finger vertically along the keyboard scrolls up and down a webpage. It is also extremely sensitive, but with a bit of practise you should be able to comfortably navigate the screen with your keyboard. You can also set up hotkeys and assign apps to certain letters so you can, for example, load up Facebook just by tapping the F key or even use a button to act as a camera shutter. This aspect contains a lot of subtle functions that really make this a keyboard for the modern smartphone user.
Find out more about what we thought of the BlackBerry Priv in our review in issue 58 of Android Magazine, available for instant download now.