back to article BlackBerry Priv: Enterprise Android in a snazzy but functional package

If somebody told you six months ago that the best Android phone of 2015 would have been made by BlackBerry, you’d have thought they were a bit mad. BlackBerry didn’t really make phones any more, and what phones it made were marketed as a secure alternative to the Mad Max badlands of Android. And if anyone had dared suggest …

  1. AV8

    Brilliant, unbiased, informative and straightforward review.

    1. mhoneywell

      Agreed.

      But across 5 pages?

      1 page really would do and would make a much nicer reading experience.

      1. d3vy

        Isnt this a buzzfeed style trick to get more advertising impressions?

        View it on the mobile site, cleaner, fewer adds, one page.

      2. Nudge Away

        There once was a way for a single page

        The Register Print Icon used to format multiple pages into a single web page - alas it is no longer visible (to me at least).

        1. Sloppy Crapmonster

          Re: There once was a way for a single page

          add print.html to the end of the url:

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/Print/2015/11/06/blackberry_priv_review/

          becomes

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/Print/2015/11/06/blackberry_priv_review/print.html

          1. Bela Lubkin

            Re: There once was a way for a single page

            Actually http://theregister.co.uk/2015/11/06/blackberry_priv_review becomes http://theregister.co.uk/2015/11/06/blackberry_priv_review/print.html which redirects to http://theregister.co.uk/Print/2015/11/06/blackberry_priv_review and works; but including both /Print/ and /print.html redirects a second time, to (404) http://theregister.co.uk/Print/Print/2015/11/06/blackberry_priv_review

            (Sloppy Crapmonster lives up to the moniker :)

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unbiased????

      "The Priv runs Alphabet Inc’s Android software, notorious for its abundant and sprawling attack vectors"

      Conveniently not mentioning iOS has had 8x the number of vulnerabilities than Android in 2015 (,CVE lists securina), 7x more rated as severe, and its taken 4x longer to fix them.

      http://secunia.com/community/advisories/search/

      Anyone falling for Android secuirty scareware hearsay is frankly a joke in my book.

      1. definingsound
        Trollface

        commentard proves elite status with Fawkes mask

        Android users can tick a single box in the device settings, and sideload apps from any website. Android devices are often laggard in receiving updates, or completely unsupported. Consequently there are "abundant and sprawling" vulnerabilities for an Android device.

        Contrastingly, iOS users are forced to visit Apple's app store for downloads, and devices are supported with every iteration of the iOS software.

        There have been some incursions into Apple's "walled garden" (i.e. XcodeGhost), but the attack vectors are fewer, and more difficult to implement, relative to Android.

        It's not hearsay, it's day to day usage. Android piracy usage has been described at 95%, and iOS piracy at a much lower 60%. Android users cause the insecurity they suffer, through their own actions.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: commentard proves elite status with Fawkes mask

          Android piracy usage has been described at 95%,

          That is utter bollocks. 95% of what?? All android users??? With 2bn of them, are you seriously believing that crap? Some people should just disconnect from the internet, they are so easilly fooled into believing any old crap, you are one of them.

      2. TheVogon

        "Anyone falling for Android secuirty scareware hearsay is frankly a joke in my book."

        You think you know more than someone who hacks them for a living then?

        See http://wmpoweruser.com/hacker-claims-windows-phone-the-most-secure-smartphone-os/

        "If I have physical access to the device, I find Android’s usually the easiest target. Then comes iPhone, then older versions of BlackBerry. If it’s over a network or I have to attack via email or message, Android’s usually the softest target."

        This isn't exactly new news either:

        http://wmpoweruser.com/f-secure-windows-phone-platform-is-the-safest-mobile-os-available-to-businesses/

      3. jonathanb Silver badge

        But at least with iOS, you will get updates to fix them, whereas with most Android phone manufacturers, their approach to updating is to suggest you buy a new phone.

      4. Groaning Ninny

        But this runs Android, not iOS...

        The reason the Android issues are noted is because the device runs Android. What's the issue with that? If it ran iOS, then I'd expect to see a similar note, likewise Windows. Save for the fact that strangely Windows seems to be more secure. Never thought I'd find myself saying that!

      5. Tom 13

        Re: Unbiased????

        I'm an android user because of cost. I have no illusions about the security of my phone. Then again, I use it mostly as a PHONE, not an internet consumption device.

  2. bazza Silver badge

    Hmmmmmm!

    The Hub, the big battery, the keyboard, the real keyboard with spooky built in trackpad.

    There's a lot to like there.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Hmmmmmm!

      Yes, it is very tempting, but I'm hanging on to my Galaxy Note 1 until someone else comes up with a phone with a pen (I have no interest in getting a later Note). None of the digital pens on the market seem to have the same precision, and seem to need Bluetooth turned on - something I try to avoid.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This, might replace my Bold 9700, finally.

    Which is good as well, as almost everything on that one has been replaced by now. From sheer usage I have to add, not from dropping it or other silly actions :)

    1. Metrognome

      Re: This, might replace my Bold 9700, finally.

      There still people who use these???

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SIM free price?

    I am missing a not-tied-into-a-contract price here, but that is a minor niggle in an excellent review.

    If BB can now start to move on creating a less {leaky|Google dependent} version of Android this may be a winner - this seems good enough for me to already use as a spare phone.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: SIM free price?

      Indeed. All its missing is a setting to disable all Googles adver-tracking functionality and I've found my perfect phone.

      Seriously impressed with this.

      1. Aqua Marina

        Re: SIM free price?

        That was probably going to be included in the section that's labelled "Summary" but is clearly missing one :)

    2. e2e4

      Re: SIM free price?

      700$

      http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1192221-REG/blackberry_stv100_1_priv_32gb_smartphone_unlocked.html

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: SIM free price?

        Dont care how good it is. That is pretty damn expensive.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much??!!

    "...but I doubt anyone attracted to the Priv belongs to the selfie demographic."

    And that is why this will be the last handset BB make. I wish I didn't believe this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How much??!!

      Oh come on! The trendy set happily stump up £600+ for the latest Samsung Galaxy bling.

      Personally I have got more critical things to spend that sort of money on, so I'll probably be considering this phone or one of its successors as an eventual provider-supplied upgrade to my current Z10.

  6. xj650t

    Once the Sim free price drops a bit

    and it gets an upgrade to Marshmallow this will replace my Sammy Note 2.

    First phone I've really fancied in a long time.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Lumia 950 trumps it in every way

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I seriously doubt this. Hardware wise possibly. But it hasn't been released into the wild, and if the privacy issues on Win 10 PC are anything to go by, I would steer way clear of it if I had a requirement for professional grade communications. Of course, this will have to be determined when people that are far more proficient than I am get their mitts on it.

      1. dogged

        > if the privacy issues on Win 10 PC are anything to go by, I would steer way clear of it if I had a requirement for professional grade communications.

        The article said almost nothing at all about the Priv's security features or propensity for data-leakage. All we know is that it's running BB apps on the horrendously leaky Android.

        I would have appreciated more information.

        DISCLAIMER - Blackphone 2 owner, which is a genuinely hardened Android. That the Reg hasn't reviewed. I wonder why not?

    2. Ken 16
      Paris Hilton

      Why do you think so?

    3. TheVogon

      "The Lumia 950 trumps it in every way"

      Quite - particularly for corporate / professional use.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        All our management care about is exchange integration and battery life.

    4. Planty Bronze badge

      In what? Failing hardware that nobody wants? Yes lumias are unbeaten in that respect.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hurrah !

    looks like a fine attempt from BB. Let us hope it will allow them to regain some of their former excellence.

    I don't know why, but somehow this has really perked up my day.

  9. OrinokoMatt

    Looks really good and I really am considering getting one seen as we've got BES12 to back it all up, now lets wait for the BlackBerry bashers to arrive...

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "snooze" an email for later action. you wonder why nobody's done it before.

    But then we are in the Noddy Era of consumer software.

    They did think of it before.

    Go Corp Pen Point OS expected to move between networks so had a universal "outbox" to accumulate outgoing stuff to drop off when you got reconnected to a network

    In about 1991.

    Sounded like a good feature then.

    Still does.

    Now if only they can do something about Androids data incontinence....

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: "snooze" an email for later action. you wonder why nobody's done it before.

      I'm not sure if the local calendar server as a way of allowing more 3rd party calendar software to work is innotive or an admission of Android's inherent cludginess. Hopefully everything's faithfully replicated upstream to the Exchange server, because if does something like screw up repeated entries then that could be annoying/embarrassing.

  11. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Nodule Mansions?

  12. Dr_N Silver badge

    Dual SIM

    The one feature this handset seems to be missing.

    Might get one anyway as a tablet replacement.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Dual SIM

      I keep seeing this mention of dual sim being a killer feature on a phone but I've honestly never encountered anyone in the wild who uses such a feature. It makes me wonder what sort of fields would favour something like that. Maybe el reg could do a survey?

      1. TheVogon

        Re: Dual SIM

        "It makes me wonder what sort of fields would favour something like that."

        To keep your mistress / girlfriend's calls and messages separate from your wifes of course....

      2. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: Dual SIM

        Work mobile + personal mobile: Simple as that.

        I've tried carrying 2 phones and also SIM swapping/call forwarding.

        Neither method comes anywhere near full Dual SIM phone usability.

        Also network coverage and available networks when roaming are enhanced.

      3. Aqua Marina

        Re: Dual SIM

        All the sales guys and buyers that work here have dual SIM phones. SIM 1 is the UK one, and SIM 2 is usually the one for China, or which ever other country they spend the most time in. Works out much cheaper than using roaming tarrifs, somewhere in the region of £40K per year for 15 people.

        1. Bloakey1

          Re: Dual SIM

          "All the sales guys and buyers that work here have dual SIM phones. SIM 1 is the UK one, and SIM 2 is usually the one for China, or which ever other country they spend the most time in. Works out much cheaper than using roaming tarrifs, somewhere in the region of £40K per year for 15 people."

          I have a UK sim and either Russian, Abu Dhabi or Southern Europeean sims on the go at any given time. I have a nice cheap Alcatel phone that does the business and I can choose which Lines I use and for what.

          Sorted innit!

          I love your moniker! I remember the babe in question who was often involved in chasing long objects full of seamen.

          No I have that damn song going on in my head. Saunters off singing Marina, Aqua Marina, What are these strange enchantments that start whenever you’re near? ....

      4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Dual SIM

        Important feature for me, too.

        I have two mobile numbers, one less well known and one for world & dog. The latter one is used like a throwaway e-mail address, i.e. it gets replaced when spammed or stalked.

      5. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Dual SIM

        Been over a week and I still can't work out why I got downvotes for this. All I did was give a subjective opinion and then suggest a way people with similar thoughts might be better educated on the subject...

    2. DaedalusIcarusHelios

      Re: Dual SIM

      BlackBerry owns Movirtu, which provides a virtual SIM technology. So you can have 2 numbers on one SIM.

    3. Dinsdale247

      Re: Dual SIM

      Blackberry has Virtual SIM services that allow a single SIM card to route to multiple carriers.

  13. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Good to read that they decided to put a fatter battery in and not make the phone thinner.

    Wish all manufacturers will follow suit with fatter batteries that can last a day or two... I really don't need an ultrathin phone that need to be charged every x hours....

  14. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    And, yes, I will get one myself as soon as it launches here in South Africa.

    The physical QWERTY does it for me :) I may be an old fart, but, let's face it, typing on glass doesn't give the feedback as does a proper keyboard....

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: doesn't give the feedback as does a proper keyboard

      That says neither give the proper feedback. Should be "doesn't give the feedback that a proper keyboard does" or "doesn't give the feedback of a proper keyboard".

      Sorry, i'm on my phone so no grammar nazi icon!

      1. Bloakey1

        Re: re: doesn't give the feedback as does a proper keyboard

        <snip>

        "Sorry, i'm on my phone so no grammar nazi icon!"

        Should that not be "I'm" and "Nazi"?

        Glass houses etc.

  15. djstardust

    Almost but ....

    Still too expensive for mainstream sale.

    If this was £350 to £400 it would be perfect.

    1. Quortney Fortensplibe
      Unhappy

      Re: Almost but ....

      "...If this was £350 to £400 it would be perfect..."

      Yes. unfortunately you just know that the quoted $700 price is going to translate as £700, when it hits UK shores.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Almost but ....

        "Yes. unfortunately you just know that the quoted $700 price is going to translate as £700, when it hits UK shores."

        You can get the somewhat more advanced Lumia 950 / XL for under £500. The Priv doesn't even have wireless charging in the EU version!

  16. James 51

    It still has a fixed battery.

    It's interesting that at the end you pointed out how it's a lesser experiece than BB10 but this has a far better chance of being a big sucess than any of the BB10 handsets.

    I'll be sticking with my Q10 for a while longer. Still if I end up having to get an android hanset it will probably be this or a Z5 compact.

    I wonder how difficult it will be to get Sailfish on it.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Will be interesting to see if the XDA devs guys can get the BB software package off it so you can integrate it with other Android variants such as Cyanogen.

    2. Dinsdale247

      As someone who has worked through the Sailfish Hardware Adaption Tool Kit I would say don't hold your breath, the porting effort to phones is going VERY slowly. Someone created a build to run Sailfish on a Oneplus (which I tried), but it's basically just alpha software at this point and there has been no updates for some time.

  17. Ken 16
    Holmes

    I'll have to try it

    as a possible z10 replacement - at the moment I've got an old xperia ray in my pocket to run those android apps that are too battery hungry when run on BB10

  18. Jamie Kitson

    Reviews

    Funny how two reviewers can come to such different conclusions:

    http://arstechnica.co.uk/gadgets/2015/11/two-days-with-the-blackberry-priv-it-needs-to-be-better/

    1. James 51

      Re: Reviews

      Crackberry gave it a good review (no surprise there I suppsoe) but android central did as well too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Reviews

      >Arstechnica

      Well there's your problem!

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Reviews

        Hmmm. Two days in the hands of the "Gaming Editor".

        (I don't think any further comment is necessary).

        1. Quortney Fortensplibe
          Facepalm

          Re: Reviews

          Given he describes it in his intro as "... a secure, Fort Knox phone for the tin-foil hat brigade..", I suspect the lack of a dedicated button to 'one-click' post Instagram snaps of your current breakfast to your 3573 intimate Facepuke and Twatter friends' feeds, might have come as a disappointment.

        2. BDC
          WTF?

          Re: Reviews, disingenuous much?

          At the bottom of both pages of that review he is credited as "Gaming and Hardware Editor at Ars Technica UK" but go ahead, selectively quote half his title to try and make a point.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Reviews, disingenuous much?

            I very rarely have trouble with Ars' reviews, they tend to stick to the facts and argue why they believe a feature is or isn't any good. One of the first things he says is he's only had two days with it (like, it seems, everyone else) and a full review will come soon, which seems entirely reasonable.

    3. E_Nigma

      Re: Reviews

      Their guy reports build quality issues that kind of sound serious and also that, for him, the battery only lasted 14h. I find both weird, but, if such was his experience with the device, those are definite negatives.

      Also, the author obviously falls into the demographics that's no longer used to physical keyboards and in only two days, he's hardly had time to re-acquire that skill. But in that case, it's strange that he makes little mention of the virtual keyboard, which Andrew, on the other hand, found quite mention-worthy.

      Other than that, I found ArsTechnica's verdict on the camera pretty harsh. Noise reduction can get a little aggressive, but still, even their own night shots I would actually call decent. The colours may be a little off in those, but, in all, the photos are no worse than what I'd expect from a hand held compact camera. Definitely not "the bottom of the Android pile".

  19. Tim 37

    >It seems so obvious to give a user this kind of reminder, you wonder why nobody's done it before.

    Google Inbox has done snoozed reminders since it came out. I now use it over Gmail as I prefer the layout and workflow.

  20. Yugguy

    nice review

    But when are you going to do a review on the Wileyfox Storm?

    I am massively pleased with my Swift and am wondering what the Storm is like.

  21. The Quiet One

    Finally...

    A suitable repplacement for my wife's Q10. I was worried i might come to harm if she couldn't keep a BB with a keypad.

    Looks like a great phone for people who want to get things done. I'm sold.

  22. Clive Galway
    FAIL

    Fail review

    "The Priv looks conventional, but unfolds to reveal a QWERTY keyboard"

    This is THE main differentiating feature, and you felt the need to include a whole page of pictures taken using the device, which is probably not a huge concern for the target audience.

    Is there one pic of the keyboard though? No. Fail.

  23. Quortney Fortensplibe
    Angel

    Can It Be True?

    BlackBerry fires starting gun to launch new product. Huge hole in own foot not immediately apparent!

    I'm not a business user and I don't have any particular preference vis-a-vis 'real' vs 'virtual' keyboards on phones. But, even I like the look of this one.

    Of course, with reference to my 'hole in own foot' line above, I notice that the article carefully avoids mentioning a non-contract price for the Priv. But, given their past record, I fear that BlackBerry will price this at top-end flagship prices, overlooking once again the fact that having almost zero brand awareness or market share amongst 'public at large' means you just can't get away with this –no matter how good the hardware might be.

    In other news:

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. The worst thing about this device is the name. Yes, I know it's meant to be all hipster and happening and buzzwordy and is short for "Privacy". But you mention your "priv" to anyone this side of the Atlantic and they'll assume you're talking about your toilet.

    What where they thinking of?

    [Halo icon because, in a fit of insanity, I bought some shares in Blackberry a few years ago, which have done nothing but tank since the day I got them. With every announcement of a new BB product I pray this might be 'The One' that turns their [and by extension my] fortunes around again.]

    1. Aqua Marina
      Coat

      Re: Can It Be True?

      Maybe they are hoping for the same kind of disaster that befell Nintendo back in 2006 when all the pundits claimed a console named after a bodily function was doomed to fail.

  24. Crazy Operations Guy

    Fingerprint Sensor / security

    I have to disagree that a secure device should have a fingerprint sensor, quite the contrary actually. Using fingerprints as the sole authentication method presents many problems, specifically because you can't change it if its compromised (IE, someone makes a silicon mold of your fingers).

    At my office we end up working long hours and coworkers tend tot take naps at their desk, so as a prank, we'll grab their phones, and put it up to their fingers so it unlocks. Then we'll wreck all sorts of harmless havoc upon the phone (changing ring tones to pop-songs, screwing with the color scheme, setting alarms for 2:30 in the morning, etc)

    1. skydome

      Re: Fingerprint Sensor / security

      Completely agree and would never use fingerprint for authentication. Not only that you can not change it if compromised but also because of this:

      http://hamptonroads.com/2014/10/police-can-require-cellphone-fingerprint-not-pass-code

  25. Crazy Operations Guy

    Use BES as a proxy?

    Given the privacy and security concerns with Android, would it be possible to just have everything filtered through BES?

    I imagine a situation where the server would handle all the normal duties of the App Store (distributing apps, managing updates, etc), and proxying / filtering traffic so that ad traffic is properly anonymized (replace ad IDs with one used for the whole company?). Usage information, crash reports and the like would be sent to the BES server rather than going to Google / app developer and can be forwarded on by an admin.

  26. Slx

    The product name "Priv" just sounds too much like the old British slang for toilet "Privy"

    1. Fihart

      Privy Counsellor.

      Kinda appropriate for a smartphone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Privy Counsellor.

        "Kinda appropriate for a smartphone."

        Well a nickname meaning 'toilet' sure is for this one...Blackberry continue slowly to go down the pan...

  27. Fihart

    Price.

    Blackberry's current products already addressed many of the niggles I have about my 4 yr-old 9800 qwerty slider. The Priv seems like another good move to curb desertions. Except that price.

    In a world where you can pick up a decent Android for £150, asking 4x that for the (real) advantage of a qwerty keyboard almost guarantees failure.

    While I don't like on-screen keyboards, well-executed ones (Apple) and larger screens (HTC Sony etc) are a sensible compromise.

    1. The Quiet One

      Re: Price.

      "While I don't like on-screen keyboards, well-executed ones (Apple) and larger screens (HTC Sony etc) are a sensible compromise."

      Good god man! What planet are you on?? An Apple keyboard "Well Executed", is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard!

      I mean, it took them until iOS9 (yes,NINE!) to make letters change case depending on your position of the shift key! Android has been doing this since year dot.

      The best on screen keyboard is Windows Phone, regardless of what you think of the rest of the phone, it is a masterpiece in design and functionality.

  28. 404

    Just the other day on El Reg

    I made the complaint(?) that with my contract renewal coming up, I didn't see new phones compelling enough to replace our Note 3's - now I do.

    Ran across my old BB Storm2 the other day and had to fondle it... sigh. Would be nice to run BES again too, I've been uncomfortable with security since reluctantly relinquishing those duties to Verizon and Google (security/Verizon/Google... those words shouldn't be in a single sentence). -

    Biggest issue? The new BB Priv isn't compatible with Verizon - I've already started bitching at them on their boards ;)

  29. Jim84

    Too small?

    A lot of reviews on other websites are slaging off the keyboard saying that it is too small.

    I still think Blackberry should produce versions of this phone exactly the same with and without the slider option. That way people who just want a better galaxy with Blackberry's software on top can have their option.

    And it should try and do the same for the passport. I use a passport and the best thing about it is the width of the screen (yes you can turn an iPhone sideways but then the screen is ridiculously short).

    Well done to Blackberry on creating a slider that is only 9.4mm thick, that is well and truly 'have your cake and eat it' territory.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did Google instruct you to use 'Alphabet' and 'Alphabet' s Google' under duress?

    It makes my eyes bleed and then my brain feel like jumping out of my ear.

  31. John Sanders
    Linux

    I have been saying it for years in thereg

    One of the persons saying blackberry should have released an android based device from day one

    they are at least 4 years late and still doing it wrong.

    For this strategy to work Blackberry needs to publish their software suite for aby Android handset for £5 on the play store, not a gimmick but properly supported.

    That way you can get people back on board and then have a proper market differentiation. Like the Blackberry suite on Android? it is even greater on the Priv and proper secure.

    Come on it is not that difficult!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think when BB10 becomes unusable, I shall give up with smartphones. I don't really want to carry around a device all the time that can be accessed by a foreign government, (patriot act).

    Probably find a dumb phone that I can switch on as needed. (And use a phablet as needed).

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