BlackBerry Priv: After two weeks on test, looks like this is a keeper

The Priv did more than just survive – it flourished

Shame it's an Android

I tried to get the PRIV up and running without giving it a Google account login, but I didn’t last long. The new BlackBerry DTek security app kept popping up and telling me my phone was less secure without a Google account.

More to the point, even downloading a new browser without being more geeky than I had time for required using Chrome, which wouldn’t do anything without me signing into a Google account first.

So I gave in, and yes, sure, it’s nice and easy to grab the apps I have previously shelled out for in the Play store but it highlights the problem: this phone demands that you exist in Google’s universe, not just BlackBerry’s one. Doesn’t make me feel more secure at all.

But once past all that and into real life it’s a really easy phone to get along with. I must admit I would quite like a fingerprint reader, which I got used to on a Samsung Note 5, and I worry that the curvy screen is more susceptible to smashing than one with a frame round the edge. Keeping the phone constantly inside a case makes it much less svelte.

I was hoping there would be a thing to let me edit all the permissions apps assume for themselves, but this capability is Android version dependent so we have to wait for an update BlackBerry has promised in early 2016.

In terms of other things, well ... you know ... it’s Android. Not the latest iteration (have they got to Aniseed Gobstopper yet?), apparently, but who cares? It works. It’s fast and if there’s anything missing, other than full-screen non-removable widgets and other such irritations, I haven’t noticed.

So, on the whole, this is the first Android phone in a long while which feels like a keeper. There are always compromises but this one demands fewer of them.

It works, really pretty well, and it will improve. I feel happier plugging my email in to the BlackBerry apps and they work better too. It’s beautiful, and doesn’t compromise on battery life, even though it has the keyboard hidden in there – it could easily pass for a normal sleek, keyboardless phablet, and it works as one too, with the excellent BlackBerry on-screen keyboard still there when the hardware is hidden.

It’s a usable phone, in the best way, the way you don’t really notice. I keep finding more and more ways it’s useful (the keyboard-as-touchpad thing works much better than on the Passport) and I stop noticing the phone while I’m getting things done. It’s business-like, and I like that.

Oh yes, and Backgammon really doesn’t work on a square screen which one-ups my Passport.

The PRIV is, by miles, the best Android phone for me. If I can’t avoid Android I might as well use the least irritating iteration of it.

The ultimate verdict in a two week test is whether I’m glad to see the review unit go. Well. I’m going to return the PRIV I was lent to review, and I’ll go and buy one.®

Dominic Young has been wasting money on gadgets since he had to borrow it from his parents. Not a proper geek, but a bit geek-ish, he spends his days working on how to make copyright work better and sometimes blogging about it.

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