The name might be a little strange and mentioning the company in public may even garner some snarky comments, but the BlackBerry Priv is certainly a smartphone to get excited about.
Once the gold standard for phones in the past, BlackBerry now holds a meager 0.3 per cent of the smartphone operating system market share compared to the 82.8 per cent of Android and 13.9 per cent iOS respectively. In simpler terms: barely anyone is using a BlackBerry anymore. The once-dominant Pearl, Curve and Bold have been replaced with newer, sexier and yearly refreshes from Apple, Samsung, LG, Sony, Google, Nokia and other handset manufacturers, and BlackBerry is finally looking to break into that space. But is it too late to get a slice of the oversaturated Android market pie?
With the Priv, which is short for privacy and privilege, BlackBerry is looking to provide the best of both worlds to the consumer: a customizable and app-friendly Android device with the security and physical QWERTY keyboard of a BlackBerry. While the final specifications of the smartphone haven't been officially announced just yet, there are still plenty of things to rally around if you're an Android user looking to rekindle the feel of a physical keyboard or a BlackBerry user tired of a barren App World.
In recently-released photos, the Priv appears to sport a 5.5-inch curved display and slim slide-out QWERTY keyboard. While the keyboard will definitely add some weight to the device, having a bit of extra junk in the trunk will likely increase stability and may make for a better handheld experience. Personally speaking, I've always loved the design and feel of BlackBerry phones in the past so, hopefully, the trend continues.
Having once owned a BlackBerry PlayBook in 2011, I was excited when the prospect of downloading apps from the Google Play Store became a real possibility. Unfortunately, that never really happened the way I, or anyone else, envisioned. Now, with the Priv running native Android instead of BlackBerry OS 10, users will have access to 1.6 million apps in the Play Store compared to the paltry 130,000 currently in the App World.
Pocket-lint reports the BlackBerry Priv could ship with some pretty beefy specs including a possible Snapdragon 808 processor and 18-megapixel camera capable of shooting 4K video at 30 frames per second. Again, none of these elements have been officially confirmed so it's all just speculation at this point. However, if BlackBerry really is putting a ton of eggs in this basket, and chief executive John Chen suggested it is, it would only make sense to ship a device with specs to rival what's currently available from other phones.
In the end, the market will ultimately determine if BlackBerry is too late to the party or finally filling a niche Android and BlackBerry fans have clamored for a long time. Pricing and availability will certainly play huge roles as well but, if the Priv expects to convert loyal consumers away from their preferred brands, it'll have to be priced aggressively, feature top-notch specs and meet the Q4 2015 deadline.
Whether you're eagerly awaiting the Priv as your next smartphone purchase or aren't too keen on the idea of an Android-powered BlackBerry device, let us know in the comments below. We're interested in your take on this new merger and what it could mean for the BlackBerry company, future BlackBerry operating systems and what impact this could have on other Android handset developers.