Not so long ago, the BlackBerry was one of the hottest smartphone names in the business. BlackBerry devices have been around for a long time, first as simplistic two-way pager devices, later as a fully fledged email device. The BlackBerry devices gained voice functionality, cameras, higher resolution screens but for many years, stuck with the old JAVA-based operating system. BlackBerry bought QNX, a high quality operating system used for many industrial purposes especially in healthcare, and have modified this to make BlackBerry 10, a new generation operating system. However, although BlackBerry 10 is functional and useful, it arrived perhaps three years too late into the scene and has struggled to gain market share. Instead, the smartphone world is largely divided between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, or related, operating systems. BlackBerry 10 gained the ability to run Android applications some time ago, but recently BlackBerry released a device running their flavor of secure Android.
One of BlackBerry’s highest accolades was in designing a hardware keyboard that worked well on a mobile, even if at the time it was a somewhat large device. BlackBerry’s engineering prowess in designing miniature keyboards was recognized in the industry as many Palm designs used a BlackBerry-designed keyboard, but hardware keyboards have fallen out of favor. Partially, this is because software, on-screen keyboards have evolved over the years and are now much, much better – and also because BlackBerry weren’t selling keyboard devices that most people wanted to buy. With the launch of the BlackBerry Priv, there are signs that this is changing: BlackBerry’s website is reporting that customers ordering the unlocked Priv today won’t see their device shipping until later in the month. A BlackBerry spokesman said: “We’ve begun fulfilling shipments as of November 6, but due to demand we’ve phased shipments and this is for next wave.” Now of course, we do not know the numbers involved here. It’s possible that BlackBerry underestimated the demand for the Priv, or it’s also possible that they deliberately kept supply restricted so as to let the industry know that they’re back – but for whatever the reason, people are having to wait for a new BlackBerry device. This is good news for the Canadian smartphone manufacturer.
Looking at the specification of the Priv, BlackBerry have created a desirable device. It features a 5.4-inch, QHD (or 1440p) resolution AMOLED touchscreen display, a slider keyboard design that is also touch sensitive so may be used as a track pad. There’s an 18MP rear camera, which is a trimmed down Sony sensor and a high capacity battery. The device uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, which is a mid to high-end chipset. BlackBerry have modified the stock Android 5.1.1 Lollipop for the Priv, but have largely retained Google’s user interface – Android 6.0 Marshmallow will be released in 2016 for the handset. The unlocked device will set you back $699.