BlackBerry is back and has been for a while now. We love what the company has managed to do in its comeback with an entire reinvention of what's possible from the Canadian phone manufacturer.
After a few years of struggling to make phones that stand out against the likes of the iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy S range, the BlackBerry Priv swung in to save the day with high-end spec and Android software. It's currently just running Android 5.1 Lollipop, but it looks great and feels like Android has always been a big part of BlackBerry.
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Techradar's BlackBerry Priv review highlights:
The BlackBerry Priv is the mullet of the smartphone world – while it's still business up front, there's now a party going on round the back too.
Is that a combination people actually want though? It'll divide opinion for sure, but there's no questioning that the Priv is the best BlackBerry in years.
The 5.4-inch QHD display on the Priv is excellent. Its subtle dual curved edges are attractive, detail is pin sharp and it enables you to actually enjoy videos and games on a BlackBerry device.
We're big fans of stock Android, which BlackBerry has only altered in a couple of minor ways, while adding a smattering of its own applications. It's clean, clutter-free and enjoyable to use.
The added security will be a big plus point for many, with the Priv able to show you how to improve the privacy of the handset – and that's after BlackBerry has done additional work to secure both the hardware and software.
The Priv lacks the premium design to match its premium price tag, but even though the plastic is a bit creaky on the rear we were quite taken with its stylings. It offers something a bit different – and we could play with that slider all day.
The main disappointment with the Priv is its performance. It's just too patchy for a truly great on-screen experience, with noticeable lag in the system and within the camera app.
It doesn't happen all the time, and for large parts of the review period the Priv ran smoothly; but there were frequent occasions where the slowdown was noticeable, and that's a real shame.
The sliding mechanism is fun to play with, while rekindling fond memories of phones gone by, but the physical keyboard it hides feels outdated and clunky. The keys will be too small for many users, and the advances in touchscreen keyboards mean they're now superior to BlackBerry's dainty keys.
Don't get us wrong – we really, really like the BlackBerry Priv. It's a great high-end Android phone, especially when you consider who's made it.
Finally we have a BlackBerry smartphone with all the apps you want, with a screen you can actually enjoy videos and games on, and an interface that's far more familiar and intuitive (for the general public at least) than that on the BlackBerry 10.
Trouble is, we wanted to love the Priv – and this is a phone that BlackBerry really needs people to love if the company's ever going to get back into the consumer hardware market – but we just don't.
The flakey performance and absence of a properly premium design, coupled with a price tag which makes it more expensive than the established Android flagship players, makes the BlackBerry Priv very difficult to recommend over its closest rivals.
It's by far the best phone BlackBerry has produced in recent years – but once again we can't help but feel that it's just too little, too late.
First reviewed: November 2015