Hands-on preview: BlackBerry Priv – a child of two worlds

We‘ve got our hands on the BlackBerry Priv – is this the device thats set to save the company from itself?

We’ve been waiting to have hands-on time with the BlackBerry Priv for a good while now, and thanks to the device’s recent launch in South Africa, we now have the chance to get up close and personal with BlackBerry’s new Android phone.
Before we publish our final review, we’ll collect our initial thoughts here while taking the unit out of the box: is this the product that can turn BlackBerry around and save it not only from the competition, but from itself?
Read: BlackBerry Priv could be the company‘s last phone
Premium is the name of the game with the Priv, which takes its odd name from the words Privilege and Privacy. Retailing for a rough figure of R16,000 ZAR, this is a phone that not only has to justify its price tag, but further restore confidence in investors and fans alike.
BlackBerry Priv
Out of the box, this is one of the most interesting Android devices around, amalgamating several points of interest between a curved screen reminiscent of the Galaxy S6 Edge and a unique slide-out keyboard. Initial impressions are largely mixed; the phone itself is great to use with a virtual keyboard, but the squat nature of the hardware keyboard leaves us with mixed feelings surrounding its potential use.
Swiping and scrolling on the keyboard is a great experience, and the device’s overall looks are appealing. The rounded edge of the phone is distinctive, and the sensation of sliding out the hardware keyboard instills confidence, though we’ll be sure to watch this for any signs of creaking.
BlackBerry Priv
The Priv’s external design isn’t the only thing to bring change to Android; on the software front, BlackBerry has integrated not only its security technology, but additional features into Android just as the Hub, quick actions, and a Quick View for contacts, emails, events, and more.
We’re not precisely sold on the usefulness of the Hub next to native Android notifications, and under less-than-strenuous use, the Priv is already becoming toasty atop our palms.
BlackBerry Priv
This is an interesting take on Android, and one that, refreshingly, largely joins the operating system’s trajectory instead of finding it. The Priv looks immediately handsome with a material design finish, and BlackBerry’s own apps bring a dash of uniqueness while not looking out of place.
One of our early worries is the Priv’s camera, which doesn’t seem to offer any significant quality. We’ll be sure to test this thoroughly in the days to come, as this will likely be the deciding factor over whether the Priv can survive in both the productivity and consumption realms.
BlackBerry Priv
Could this be the smartphone to save BlackBerry, and bring something new to Android? Stay tuned for a full review in the weeks to come, and be sure to listen in to our launch reactions below!