BlackBerry Priv Android smartphone maybe not John Chen’s last stand (but still lousy value)

Big battery, but pricey, slow, and the keyboard divides opinion

BlackBerry Priv review
BlackBerry Limited

The BlackBerry Priv reviews are in. Some are qualified raves, but many are harsh rants. Can’t BlackBerry catch a break?

It’s worrying for the future of BlackBerry: CEO John Chen implied last month that the Android smartphone may be the Canadian handset business’s last chance to survive. Already however, he seems to be softening that stark statement.

While most love the big battery and some of the apps, reviewers say the laggy, buggy software’s not yet ready for prime time. Surprisingly, the slider keyboard gets some harsh criticism, too. Many question the asking price.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers grow the flowers for BBRY's grave. Not to mention: A Fallout 4 special...

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.
[Developing story: Updated 7:48 am Friday and 11:49 pm PT Sunday with more comment, a clarification of Chen’s implication, and news of Chen backtracking]

In reviewing the new device, Joanna is Stern:

BlackBerry’s story now reads like a Shakespearean tragedy. ... Once-dominant, [it] doesn’t even hold 1% of the world-wide market now.

[But] the Priv’s slide-out physical keyboard, long battery life and focus on privacy—hence the dumb name—stand apart.

But despite its quad-core processor and 3GB of RAM, there were spots where the phone was inexcusably slow. ... Updates to apps and the operating system improved some of the performance glitches.

In the area of user privacy, a point of pride so significant [it's] in the phone’s name...the efforts don’t run very deep.  MORE

And Andrew Orlowski does his usual harshly-critical schti... Oh, no, wait:

If somebody told you six months ago that...BlackBerry would produce a contender for ‘Phone of the Year’, you’d assume they were totally deluded. ... But, amazingly...BlackBerry’s new Priv is the real deal.

Slider phones have their ancestry in the two-way pager era. [They] were basically two fat slabs stapled together. [But] the guts of the Priv appear to disappear inside the display. It’s a very

Microsoft users who’ve been stiffed by [its] appalling recent Android software...take heart here: I could use all my Outlook calendars (and Exchange groups) without needing Microsoft Outlook.

It may be a "Hail Mary" pass, but BlackBerry's arrival on Android adds bags of choice and maturity to the platform.  MORE

Oh! I hear Steve O'Hear has been at the dictionary again: [You're fired -Ed.]

‘Priv’ might also stand for privative, denoting the absence or loss of an attribute. ... I can’t quite put my finger on [it], but I’m sure it has something to do with the Priv’s physical keyboard.

[It] feels clunky and I found my hands tiring more quickly than I expected.

That’s a shame since I really like the way the physical keyboard on the Priv is touch enabled. ... You can also map specific keys to quickly launch applications or actions.

You can’t get any more different than a physical QWERTY, even if I can’t help thinking this will deter as many people as it will entice. [It's] almost entirely redundant.  MORE

Meanwhile, Daniel Cooper barrels along towards the elephant in the room:

BlackBerry is probably done as a phone manufacturer. [The CEO] pledged to shut down the division if it doesn't turn a profit by 2016.

Almost no Android manufacturer seems to be able to turn a decent profit.

Android alone can't save the company.  MORE

In a similar vein, Abdulla from Bahrain brings us back to Earth with a meh:

It’s a Blackberry phone. You know, from a company that probably will stop making phones in a few months. ... Is there some assurance this phone will work without any issues for 1 or 2 years?

Really skeptical this thing will be successful considering it’s $700.  MORE

Update 1: Mark Walton says goodnight:

This is it. The last hurrah. The all-in...last-ditch attempt to save a company.

It is with great sadness, then, that I must report that the Priv doesn't quite hit the mark.

The sliding mechanism itself is smooth and solid. ... The only disappointment is that sliding the phone open doesn't directly answer a phone call.

When you gently press on the back of the Priv, the backplate flexes and moves...not something you'd expect from a phone that costs...$699.

The Priv sports a huge 3410mAh battery...but for me, the Priv was out of juice by around 10 in the evening.

The headphone amp is terrible [which] sounds like nitpicking, but...the Priv needs to do better.  MORE

Update 2: Killian Bell sees Chen backtracking already:

CEO John Chen...dismissed the notion that Priv is the company’s “Hail Mary.”

[But he] admitted that when it comes to the future of BlackBerry’s hardware business, he will “let the market tell me.”

Chen concluded that if Priv is successful, BlackBerry will be able to “rebuild.”

Priv certainly looks like a very promising device — and the most exciting BlackBerry we’ve seen in a number of years. ... But whether it can save BlackBerry by itself is a big question.

[It's] one of the most expensive Android-powered smartphones in the market.  MORE

And Finally...
A Fallout 4 special (Dan Bull ft. Custom Phase)

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don't have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or
Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon