Pri­vacy is pricey

HWM (Singapore) - - Front Page - by Li­uHongzuo

Black­Berry never re­ally went away. Mov­ing with the times, they’ve come up with a great idea for a prod­uct – by com­bin­ing all their strengths, such as their hall­mark phys­i­cal key­board, and height­ened smart­phone se­cu­rity fea­tures that they’re renowned for, but pair­ing all that with a smart­phone run­ning on an An­droid OS.

The Black­Berry Priv has a huge (com­pared to most Black­Berry devices) 5.4-inch QHD (2,560 x 1,440 pix­els) res­o­lu­tion dis­play, re­sult­ing in a rea­son­ably high pixel den­sity of 550ppi. The phone’s in­ter­face and apps are clearly ren­dered, though app lo­gos do not look very sharp. How­ever, text ap­pears sharp and clear, a huge plus given that the Priv is still tar­geted at busi­ness- minded users.

The screen is ac­tu­ally curved at the edges, which gives it a nice vis­ual feel but has lim­ited prac­ti­cal use and does not wrap the rim like how Sam­sung’s Galaxy S6 Edge+ does. The Priv doesn’t com­pro­mise screen real es­tate for a phys­i­cal key­board too, as large screen ac­tu­ally hides a slid­ing key­board.

At a glance, the key­board seems like a sim­pli­fied ver­sion of the old Black­Berry key­boards. Our ex­pe­ri­ence with it though was cramped with but­tons that were too small for our thumbs; this ob­ser­va­tion made in com­par­i­son with the Black­Berry Bold 9900. None­the­less, the ac­cu­racy and tac­tile feel turned out well on for the Priv once you get past this (re-) learn­ing curve.

The Priv is loaded with An­droid 5.1.1 (Lol­lipop) and pow­ered by Qual­comm’s Snap­dragon 808 64-bit pro­ces­sor. It is ac­com­pa­nied by 3GB of RAM and 32GB of in­ter­nal stor­age. We had no is­sues with its per­for­mance, as it is one of the smoothest and fastest Black­Berry phones we’ve en­coun­tered so far. Stor­age space is fur­ther ex­pand­able by an­other 2TB via mi­croSD.

Of course, be­ing an An­droid smart­phone now means the Priv has typ­i­cal An­droid fea­tures and ac­cess to all Google Play store and apps. But Black­Berry be­ing Black­Berry, they’ve lay­ered it with some of their fa­bled se­cu­rity mea­sures un­der­the-hood. All data on the Priv is en­crypted by de­fault, and it has Black­Berry’s

DTEK for An­droid, which gives users an overview of what apps are us­ing phone re­sources. For ex­am­ple, a sim­ple torch­light app that tries to ac­cess the phone’s mic or cam­era can be sin­gled out as a breach in se­cu­rity.

The curved side of­fers a Black­Berry-sque pro­duc­tiv­ity wid­get when you slide it across the screen. It’s quite sim­ple, han­dling your events, un­read emails, to-do list and fa­vorite con­tacts.

On the rear, the Priv comes with an 18-megapixel rear cam­era, with an f/2.2 aper­ture us­ing a six­ele­ment lens con­fig­u­ra­tion. It boasts many pow­er­ful pho­tog­ra­phy fea­tures, such as Op­ti­cal Im­age Sta­bi­liza­tion – for less blurry pho­tos, phase de­tect aut­o­fo­cus – for break­neck aut­o­fo­cus speeds, Back Side Il­lu­mi­na­tion stacked sen­sor – for bet­ter per­for­mance in low-light con­di­tions. Our quick rear cam­era test proved that the pho­tos taken have some ar­ti­facts along the edges of the sub­ject and back­ground, but it is oth­er­wise a very de­cent cam­era for a mod­ern smart­phone.

The 3,400mAh bat­tery ca­pac­ity is larger than some other 5.5-inch smart­phones on the mar­ket, such as the Oppo R7s, and even the Ap­ple iPhone 6s Plus. Ac­cord­ing to Black­Berry, the Priv is ca­pa­ble of up to 23.9 hours of talk time, and av­er­ages about 22.5 hours for mixed use. It uses a mi­cro-USB 2.0 port to charge and trans­fer files, which is the norm for most other phones.

The Priv works like a de­cent An­droid smart­phone through and through. It is a solid ef­fort by Black­Berry on their first An­droid de­vice. How­ever, it still has much room for im­prove­ment if Black­Berry wants to woo back the av­er­age con­sumer. At $1,098, there is a sea of An­droid devices that of­fer more for less.

Our in­for­mal poll around the of­fice show that the re­turn of the phys­i­cal key­board isn’t as highly re­garded any­more. Not only is the key­board on the Priv a lit­tle pinched, touch­screen key­boards and tech­nolo­gies have vastly im­proved since Black­Berry was in its prime. How­ever, we can’t ar­gue with the sat­is­fac­tion of slid­ing open the key­board. Se­cu­rity, as the main com­po­nent of the Priv is a strong ar­gu­ment in its fa­vor, though the lack of fin­ger­print sen­sor in­te­gra­tion is telling. Black­Berry how­ever, claims bio­met­rics is not ac­tu­ally that se­cure and it was a con­scious de­ci­sion to leave out of the Priv.

CON­CLU­SION The first An­droid smart­phone by Black­Berry is quite im­pres­sive, but needs more con­vinc­ing.

The phys­i­cal key­board is the most unique fea­ture avail­able on the Priv, and it doesn’t com­pro­mise its screen for one.

The Priv isn’t just about soft­ware or the Black­Berry ex­pe­ri­ence – it comes with an im­pres­sive 18-megapixel rear cam­era, mak­ing it a flag­ship de­vice.

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