Priv By BlackBerry, Winning Me Over


Shortly after the Priv came to AT&T, I gave in to my baser instincts and picked one up for myself. I’ve been using it as my second phone, with my primary line switching between my trusty Passport and my new Classic. By my standards, I’ve stayed fairly quiet about the Priv, but felt it was time for me to speak a little about it.

My Background

First, I feel like I need to explain a little about my device background. I’m a bit of a gadget geek, with a that inner geek being focused on mobile tech. Computers have never really been anything much more than a necessity. Console games systems do nothing but gather dust with me. Cell phones and tablets? Now that’s a different story.

My first foray in to this amazing world of mobile tech was with an old Palm Pilot, and I loved it. When it came time for me to get my first smartphone, I went to pick up a Palm Treo. I knew just what I wanted, and went to the phone store with a purpose. Yet I walked out of that store with a BlackBerry Curve. And I’ve never looked back since. Since that one fateful day when on the spur of the moment, I changed my mind about what phone I was buying, I’ve had a BlackBerry at my side.

But through the years, I’ve had a variety of android tablets, numerous iPods of various generations, and of course, a couple BlackBerry Playbooks as well. There was a time I loved my iPods. I know, impossible to believe isn’t it? It took some time for me to realize I needed to rid myself of Apple altogether. Android was, and has been, a different story. I just keep going back to it. Keep trying it. Keep thinking that the next OS version will fix all of my previous complaints. One thing remains the same.

I hate them.

Each android device I’ve owned has ended up doing nothing but frustrated me. It is truly a mess. A jumbled mess. Sure, you can load launchers, you can personalize this and personalize that, but to do any basic functions, to get anything done at all, it seems that it takes multiple extra steps. Compared to BB10, Android seems ancient. Even legacy BBOS was more efficient than Android.

So of course, I was hesitant to try the Priv. It is after all, Android. But it was BlackBerry, and if there’s one company I trust, it’s BlackBerry. Still, I held off for a little while. I didn’t allow myself to go down to my carrier store as was afraid I would end up purchasing it, and I really didn’t want to. But I’m here at UTB, so I had to at least play with it right? So, I went down to my carrier store, saw that beautiful hardware, and accidently bought my Priv.

Initial perceptions

Let’s just say, I wasn’t immediately happy. Fine, I’ll be downright honest. I was extremely unhappy. The Priv is beautiful. That screen may just be the nicest screen I’ve ever seen on a phone. I couldn’t imagine a better slide mechanism than what was on my old Torches. Well BlackBerry out engineered themselves on the Priv, the slide is wonderful. It is a phone that begs to be shown off.

But it’s undeniably android. That OS, that I just could not stand. And BlackBerry worked very hard to keep it close to stock android. This is something that most consumers are extremely happy with. It was smart on BlackBerry’s part. Indeed, nearly every post I’ve read about the Priv specifically mentions how happy they are that BlackBerry didn’t add unnecessary bloat.

But remember, I don’t like Android.

My biggest complaint about android, has been that it’s not set up for communication. It’s set up for games and apps. The notification system of Android is one of those things that I consider a mess. Notifications fly in for everything, constantly, and I find that my messages get buried under notifications of app updates. I never understood how android users would be able to keep on top of things. I’m still not sure.

BlackBerry fixed this. They fixed it with the Hub. All my communications in one place just like BB10. Now I’ll be honest. The Hub on the Priv, just isn’t as good as the Hub on BB10. But it’s getting better, and I’m sure it will keep getting better. And suddently, thanks to BlackBerry, Android became usable. Better than any other android device I have ever used, simply because of that Hub. Yet still not what I would want to use as a daily device.

Things Change

Some things have changed recently. I’m finding that I’m using the Priv more. And it is due to one specific aspect. They physical keyboard. I know what you’re thinking, that tends to be one of the things that BlackBerry users tend to complain about on the Priv. That it’s small, that it’s cramped. It’s not. It’s the same size as the keyboard on the Classic, which I think is the best keyboard ever used on a BlackBerry. The difference between the Classic and the Priv’s keyboard in terms of styling is that it is flatter. It is not as dramatically styled. And it definitely feels different. But it’s also capacitive, and I think that may be why the ridges aren’t as dramatic as the Classic. This keyboard invites swiping.

Swiping on a BlackBerry keyboard is amazing, and one of those things that I will show off to others, but it’s also something I’ve never really used. On my Z10, I simpy found it easier to type, and the only time I would swipe was if I was using the phone one handed. On the Passport, I just never have gotten it right. The majority of the time that I tried to swipe, I would go to far, and ended up capitalizing where I shouldn’t have been, or minimizing the frame.

I don’t have those issues on the Priv. The lip that is formed by the screen when it’s slid up ensures that I don’t swipe too far. I have discovered that it is rare that I ever have to type more than three letters of a word. I am a swiping fool on the Priv, and it’s just damned fun! This has been enough to get me to pick up the Priv more than anything else. I’m not automatically reaching for my Passport like I was before. Typing on the Priv physical keyboard is fun.

I have now spent some time adjusting a few basic things, and I have also finally given in to Google. Yes, I’m using Google apps now. I’m not happy about it, but it is an Android phone after all. And it turns out, Google makes great apps. Who knew? While most of the BlackBerry world has been clamoring for the Google Play Store for years, I’ve just never got it. Like I said, I’ve always had android tabs. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years searching through the Google Play Store. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There’s a ton of apps in the Google Play Store, and the majority of those apps, are crap. I know there are some good ones out there, but I have to wade through hundreds of crap apps to get to them. But like I said before, Google makes some great apps. I’ve started using a couple, and made a few minor changes to settings (which I will talk about in a future post), and the Priv is no longer just useable. Its fun too.

Surprisingly enough, I like the Priv. I like it a lot.
What I would need to make it a daily driver

There are still a few things that I need in order to make the Priv my daily driver. There are a few things that I just can’t walk away from BB10 without.

Gestures: BlakcBerry 10’s gestures are the most natural and efficient ways to navigate through a smartphone. I would like to know if there’s any Priv owner out there, who has managed to break themselves from swiping up when they go to use the Priv.

Blend: Something I never knew I needed, and now I can’t go without. Blend is amazing, I’m using it right now. After wading through Google Play looking for a substitute, and there is just nothing worthwhile.

BlackBerry 10 File Manager: I know, I know. There’s plenty of third party file managers out there. But I don’t care. I want the BlackBerry file manager. There’s a certain simplicity to the BlackBerry 10 file manager that those other apps just can’t approach.

Final words, for now

I’m someone who is admittedly biased for BlackBerry 10, and have very strong dislike for Android. My Priv was destined to not be delivered to a loving home. But this Priv has grown on me. It’s obviously the best Android device I’ve ever owned, bounding over all those previous devices. Do I love it now? I don’t know. There are parts I do love, and now, I find that there are times that I reach for the Priv first. The Passport is still the favorite virtual child in this virtual household, and I don’t see that changing. But the Priv is a close second, very close.


Founder & Owner of UTB Blogs. Former BlackBerry Elite. When I'm not talking or writing about BlackBerry, you'll find me using my BlackBerry.