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BlackBerry Priv review: If you simply must have a physical keyboard

Florence Ion | Nov. 6, 2015
BlackBerry’s first stab at an Android device is a pretty decent attempt. But will it be enough to save the company?

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The slider mechanism makes the screen on the Priv feel a little flimsy.  Credit: Florence Ion

The Priv’s saving grace in the design department is its slightly curved, 5.43-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, which the company hopes will entice users as it piggybacks off of Samsung’s marketing for its own Edge display. It’s a weird thing to bet on, but that little bit of curve helps the Priv stand out, rather than make it look like just another Android phone in a sea of lookalikes.

About that keyboard

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“Hey, did you miss me?”  Credit: Florence Ion

The last time I used a physical keyboard on a phone was on the LG Voyager, which served as my last feature phone. It had large enough keys that, even with longer nails, I could easily bang out a sentence or two without too many typos. I figured it’d be a similar experience with the Priv, but it wasn’t. I had a hard time adjusting to the smaller size of the keys. I got so frustrated that I resorted to using the fabulous on-screen keyboard instead, just so I could tweet and write emails without taking 10 minutes to type out a few words.

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These keys felt a little too small for my fingers. My longer nails didn’t help, either—and they’re not that long!  Credit: Florence Ion

But then I recalled the fact that I’ve been typing on a touchscreen for about five years now—ever since I switched from that Voyager to my first smartphone—and that it took me weeks before I could get the hang of living life without a physical keyboard.

So I stuck with it. I eventually figured out a way to use the Priv’s slide-out keys without enduring too many errors, though it was a long, arduous learning curve for me. The Priv’s keyboard is most difficult to use when you’re typing out longer sentences with special punctuation that auto correct won’t fix, but otherwise it works. You can more easily use it one-handed, too, and the keyboard functions as a scroll-wheel when you’re not entering text, so you can scroll through the interface as on an original BlackBerry with its tiny trackball.

Another Snapdragon 808 device

I’m not really a fan of the Snapdragon 808’s performance, but BlackBerry did right by Android users by choosing a processor that matches what other Android manufacturers are using and pairing it with 3GB of RAM. Thankfully, the Priv doesn’t suffer from some of the same lag issues as the G4 or Nexus 5X—both of which use the same SoC. 


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