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Congratulations! BlackBerry and Android had a baby. Welcome to the world BlackBerry Priv. Yes, the Priv is the first BlackBerry smartphone running the Android operating system (OS) – Android 5.1.1 Lollipop to be precise – and it may be a match made in heaven.
The Priv is the first BlackBerry smartphone running the Android operating system.
Unlike their last big phone release (the unapologetically square Passport), the Priv is a traditional rectangular smartphone, dominated by a 5.4-inch touch screen.
The AMOLED display is quadHD (2560 x 1440), with fantastic brightness and contrast. They’ve also positioned the speaker on the front of the device. And the combination of screen real estate, serious resolution and front-facing sound make watching videos on the Priv a pleasure.
A key differentiator
The virtual keyboard is a standard affair – works as smoothly as you would expect – but under that glossy Gorilla Glass-covered screen, the Priv has a secret: a slide-out physical keyboard.
It is a feat of smartphone engineering that the keyboard is so well fitted under there: it truly disappears. And once it is out, there is no unwieldy top-heavy balance issues.
So it takes nothing away from the screen and virtual keyboard combo that has become so familiar to us, but instead adds an accurate and tactile keyboard experience for when you need it.
Lengthy phone-emailers and other missive writers are likely to love this. As with the Passport, the keyboard is also touch-enabled, picking up swipes and gestures to aid fast writing and precise scrolling.
Specs to compete
The Priv comes in one standard memory size offering (32GB), but has a SD slot that will take a memory card up to and including 2TB – in case you magically had one of those on hand.
It has an 18MP rear-facing camera that camera comparison site DXOMark.com gave a score of 82 – in the same range as the iPhone 6s. Their top scoring phone gets 87 points.
Plus, in running Android, there will likely be none of the 3rd-party app niggles that BlackBerry was criticised for in the past.
So, is this the BlackBerry turnaround device? We wait and see … The Priv is expected to be in stores in early February 2016.