Two worlds, one phone

The Priv is a sleek new phone that com­bines the best fea­tures of An­droid and Black­Berry.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TECHNOLOGY - By MELODY L. GOH bytz@ thes­tar. com. my

I HAVE been a loyal Black­Berry ( BB) user for years and be­cause of that I’ve been made fun of by many peo­ple who think that their phone of choice is su­pe­rior.

But re­ally, folks, it’s all about per­sonal choice and for me, the BB is what I will keep on us­ing be­cause it’s the only smart­phone to­day that still comes with a phys­i­cal key­pad.

Laugh all you want but this is a re­ally im­por­tant fac­tor for peo­ple who are more tac­tile and sim­ply can’t stand ( or are just un­able) to type on vir­tual key­boards.

Black­Berry ( for­merly Re­search In Mo­tion) has come up with a brand new phone that runs on An­droid – I ad­mit to pan­ick­ing ever so slightly with the thought of my then twoyear- old BBQ10 break­ing down and me hav­ing to fi­nally suc­cumb to typ­ing on a glass panel.

Thank­fully, the com­pany de­cided to keep its BB legacy and re­tain the all- im­por­tant phys­i­cal key­board – al­beit com­ple­mented by a vir­tual one – for its first An­droid de­vice, the Priv.

An­droid meets BB

Priv stands for “pri­vacy and priv­i­lege” which ba­si­cally means the phone has all the won­der­ful se­cu­rity fea­tures ( pri­vacy) that BB is well known for and that it’s a pre­mium smart­phone ( it re­ally is a priv­i­lege to own it as RM3,599 a pop).

The Priv runs on An­droid Lol­lipop ( 5.1.1) – it’s not the lat­est ver­sion but even a lot of An­droids still run on the older op­er­at­ing sys­tem. In any case, the Priv is ex­pected to re­ceive the up­date to An­droid Marsh­mal­low some­time this year.

What I did find a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to get used to was the merg­ing of fea­tures from both op­er­at­ing sys­tems in a sin­gle phone. Al­though the Priv runs on An­droid, there are some rem­nants of the BB10 OS tacked onto its sys­tem.

While it seems like a good idea in the­ory, there are some over­lap­ping func­tions on the phone such as the BB Hub and An­droid’s no­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem. A sta­ple in the BB world, the hub is a won­der­ful work­flow man­age­ment tool that houses all your mes­sages, re­minders and no­ti­fi­ca­tions.

What’s great about the Hub is that it al­lows you to fil­ter your mes­sages, whether by pri­or­ity, type ( e- mail, so­cial me­dia, etc) or con­tacts. You can per­son­alise the Hub and choose what you want to see or see first and how of­ten you want to be no­ti­fied. You can also choose if you want to delete mes­sages only from the Hub or the server, too.

The Hub ex­ists on the Priv but some­how I feel like it has be­come a hid­den fea­ture and there­fore does not work as ef­fec­tively, es­pe­cially be­cause it clashes with An­droid’s own no­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem.

The An­droid no­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem can be a headache, es­pe­cially when you get more than five alerts at one time. There is an op­tion to clear all the alerts with a sin­gle tap, and when you do that, you will find that ev­ery­thing is in the Hub any­way.

So why the need for two no­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tems that do ba­si­cally the same thing?

Mov­ing on, the Pro­duc­tiv­ity Tab on the Priv is an ex­tended ver­sion of what you get on the BB10. The tab is sort of hid­den ex­cept for a thin ver­ti­cal bar on the right ( which you can cus­tomise in terms of size and trans­parency). The curved screen – yes, just like the Sam­sung Galaxy S7 Edge – makes it easy to swipe open the bar.

It ex­pands into a folder, rest­ing on top of ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing all apps that are open.

The Pro­duc­tiv­ity Tab is very use­ful for peo­ple who rely heav­ily n their ph sche you a quick look at your cal­en­dar, task list, the Hub and your con­tacts list with a sin­gle swipe.

Se­cu­rity fea­tures

BB is well known for its se­cu­rity fea­tures and the Priv comes with an app called DTEK that alerts you on se­cu­rity is­sues. If some­thing on your phone is mis­be­hav­ing or if one of your apps is com­pro­mised, you will be no­ti­fied. If you choose not to use a lockscreen fea­ture for your phone, DTEK will tell you that your se­cu­rity rat­ing is low and that you should change that.

Speak­ing of lockscreens, the Priv has a pic­ture lock that seems to be a favourite of many re­view­ers. In­stead of us­ing a pin or a pat­tern to lock your phone, the pic­ture lock shows a grid of num­bers on the screen and you are sup­posed to find the com­bi­na­tion of num­bers that you’ve cho­sen ear­lier and match it to a pre- se­lected lo­ca­tion on the pic­ture. This is so that the per­son sit­ting next to or be­hind you can’t eas­ily fig­ure out your pass­word just by look­ing at what you’re do­ing.

The down­side to us­ing the pic­ture lock is that it can get a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to un­lock your screen in a jiffy. You do get a to­tal of 10 tries be­fore your phone au­to­mat­i­cally wipes out and re­sets, though. I learnt that the hard way.

Zits and all

When it comes to hard­ware, BB is known for its hardy sets ( I’ve dropped my BBQ10 20 times, and count­ing, with­out dam­ag­ing it). The Priv is made of mostly plas­tic with the screen pro­tected by Corn­ing Go­rilla Glass 4. The back of the phone has a non- slip sur­face that al­lows the user to grip the phone prop­erly.

The speaker is un­der the screen which has a metal trim – place your thumb right below the trim and push the screen up to re­veal the phys­i­cal key­board.

The key­board has a ca­pac­i­tive touch sen­sor that’s akin to the old BB track­ball/ track­pad so you can swipe your thumb or fin­ger over the key­board to take ac­tions dis­played on screen.

For ex­am­ple, when you’re typ­ing an e- mail, the phone will dis­play sug­gested words on screen. In­stead of touch­ing the screen, you just need to swipe up on the part of the key­board that’s near­est to that word. Magic. You can also scroll through your Face­book or Twit­ter news­feeds by swip­ing the key­board in­stead of the screen, thus keep­ing your screen clear of fin­ger­prints and smudges.

There are a ton of other key­board short­cuts and ges­tures avail­able on the Priv – some are new though the ma­jor­ity is stuff that BB users have al­ways en­joyed.

Apart from the phys­i­cal key­board, one of the best hard­ware fea­tures of the Priv is the cam­era.

The 18- megapixel rear cam­era takes such good pic­tures I had to delete so many self­ies be­cause my zits, fine lines and even beads of sweat could be seen!

I had the chance to take the Priv with me while on hol­i­day and was very happy with al­most all the pic­tures and videos I took with the phone. Plus, watch­ing Netflix shows on the Priv was quite en­joy­able as the speaker pro­vides crisp and clear au­dio.

Con­clu­sion

Over­all, I do like the Priv as I feel it is easy to use and it is the best de­vice for a BB user like my­self to wean off the BB OS.

It is a “se­ri­ous” phone that’s great for work but at the same time, you can have tons of apps that let you while away your spare time, too.

Also, you can cus­tomise the phone and use it to the best of your ad­van­tage – there are tons of tips and tricks for you to do that.

Right now, the only thing that stops me from putting in an or­der for a set is the price.

key dif­fer­ence: The Priv gives BB users a taste of An­droid with­out sac­ri­fic­ing its most iconic fea­ture – a phys­i­cal key­board.

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