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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.
I'm also a big fan 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 I'm quite taken with its stylings. It offers something a bit different – and I could play with that slider all day.
While the Android Marshmallow update has improved things considerably, the Priv still isn't what you'd call a speedy performer. It's just a little too slow for a truly great on-screen experience, with noticeable lag in areas such as the camera app.
It doesn't happen all the time, and for large parts of the review period the Priv ran smoothly - particularly once I'd moved it from Lollipop to Marshmallow. But there were still odd moments where performance wasn't what I'd expect from a top-of-the-line phone.
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is fun to play with, while rekindling fond memories of phones gone by, but the physical keyboard it hides feels outdated and clunky.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 me wrong – I 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, I 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 I just don't.
The occasionally flaky (though improved) performance and absence of a properly premium design, coupled with a price tag that still makes it more expensive than its contemporaries as well as some top new upper-mid-range contenders, 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 I can't help but feel that it's just too little, too late.
First reviewed: November 2015
John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.
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