BlackBerry Priv Smartphone Pre-Orders Start At $699 - InformationWeek

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10/25/2015
12:25 PM
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BlackBerry Priv Smartphone Pre-Orders Start At $699

The Priv smartphone will be BlackBerry's first Android device, and it features a slew of security enhancements, as well as a slide-out QWERTY keyboard.

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Beleaguered smartphone manufacturer BlackBerry's latest attempt at a comeback arrives in the form of the Priv, an Android-based smartphone with the company's famous tactile QWERTY keyboard. The Prive is available for pre-order for $699.

Pre-orders for the Priv Android device are also available for $899 in Canada and in the United Kingdom for £559 (about $850).

The device will ship on Nov. 6 and comes with a 5.4-inch dual-curved screen, 18-megapixel dual-flash Schneider-Kreuznach certified camera, and the DTEK application, designed to help users manage and protect privacy.

The DTEK app tells users which apps access personal data and shows the overall security of the device based on factors such as the strength of passwords, encryption settings, and the apps that have been installed.

DTEK also makes recommendations on how users can improve their overall security rating.

BlackBerry is looking to reassure users that it has taken additional steps to secure the Android platform, which is notoriously vulnerable to malware and other mobile security threats.

(Image: BlackBerry)

(Image: BlackBerry)

In addition to DTEK, the company has installed BlackBerry's Hardware Root of Trust, a manufacturing process that injects cryptographic keys into the smartphone's hardware, providing a secure foundation for the entire platform.

The Priv also boasts 32GB Flash and a hot-swappable MicroSD slot (up to 2TB), as well as a 3410 mAh battery with enough power for up to 22.5 hours of mixed use.

The smartphone is also equipped with Natural Sound, where the receiver cavity microphone monitors what the user hears and adjusts in real time for best performance, and monitors speaker motion in real time to ensure maximum loudness without distortion.

While BlackBerry is trying to revive its fortunes with Android, the company announced earlier this year that it would also continue to develop and enhance the BlackBerry 10 operating system.

BlackBerry also confirmed plans to release platform updates focused on security and privacy enhancements, with version 10.3.3 scheduled to be available in March of next year.

It remains to be seen if the company's embrace of Android and sleek new handsets will be enough to turn the company's fortunes around. By the end of 2014, BlackBerry's share of the global mobile operating system market stood at only 0.4%, according to a February IDC report. That number represented a decline of nearly 70% from 2013.

[ Check out InformationWeek's comparison of the BlackBerry Priv and the iPhone 6s. ]

While BlackBerry struggles to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive marketplace, it also has been making investments in enterprise mobility management (EMM), including the acquisition of Good Technology in September.

The security specialist could help BlackBerry improve the secure application management capabilities and containerization technology that protects end-user privacy.

The company's disappointing second-quarter earnings report showed revenue from software and services has fallen to $74 million for the latest quarter, compared with $137 million the company reported in the first quarter -- a drop of 47%.

CEO John Chen has set an ambitions sales target of five million handsets per year but was reported saying at the recent Code/Mobile conference that the company could exit the handset business in a year if it fails to turn a profit.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
10/31/2015 | 3:37:26 PM
Re: Good hit
@yalanand. Your idea of aa thin, full shiny metallic black BB with business class specs and a hefty price tag is really welcoming. People would storm to stores to buy this phone.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
10/31/2015 | 3:35:14 PM
Re: Good hit
@sunita: the phone has flagship class specifications, maybe more. If reviews are good this phone would be the turning point for BB. Does this have the existing BB business class security features because Android has really bad security features.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
10/31/2015 | 3:33:34 PM
Re: The last hope!
@yalanand: I agree the keyboard placement is really hideous. Maybe if they made the screen size a little bit less. It has a 5.4 inch screen. I just pretended i had a BB priv of 5.1 inch and tried and I could use the fancy keyboard without much problem. If the screen size is 5 inches then that keyboard is like a boon.
SachinEE
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50%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
10/31/2015 | 3:28:58 PM
Re: Good hit
@sunita: It is a good thing BB are going Android but in no way does that phone look like a flagship device.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
10/28/2015 | 4:22:29 PM
Re: Good hit
@ariella: although I am criticizing the phone, I have never actually held it. Maybe the grip is good? Maybe after holding I would like it? Who knows. The point is I am interested to see how this rolls out for BB
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
10/28/2015 | 4:21:04 PM
Re: Good hit
@stratustician: agreed. Passport was one good looking device. They should have had released it in android. Too bad they got newer and worse ideas. I don't really understand what is up with that keyboard. A big keyboard attached to a big phone? People will fumble with the phone.
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
10/26/2015 | 2:25:09 PM
Re: Good hit
I agree, while a physical keyboard was a huge competitive advantage early on for Blackberry, I think it's losing some of it's appeal over a stronger motivation for applications.  For me, one of the biggest issues with Blackberry is that they don't have enough native applications, which was a great reason for BB to produce an Android/BB hybrid.  That being said, there isn't very much that makes this phone unique.  The keyboard looks like it will be awkward for many users (I have noticed a large male demographic among business users) which could hurt the potential popularity of the device.

I'm honestly surprised they didn't just look at replicating the passport as an Android device.  That could have had a bit more market appeal.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
10/26/2015 | 1:17:23 PM
Re: Good hit
Personally, I like keyboards. But I'm not sure that incorporating one is enough to make people choose this phone over the competition. 
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
10/26/2015 | 1:13:32 PM
Re: Good hit
@Li Tan: Although I hope BlackBerry pulls through as a company, I don't see profit from this phone. It is fat and has a sliding keyboard which is not needed. It should have been at least a couple millimetres thin.
yalanand
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50%
yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
10/26/2015 | 1:11:35 PM
Re: The last hope!
Really? With this hideous placement of the keyboard? Why doesn't BlackBerry make executive android phones again, they can give iPhone a run for their money. You know, one flagship phone per year, in all metallic black and amazing specs and a hefty price tag. People will go crazy. I will buy it the first day because my first business phone was a BB and I have been a fan of their work since.
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