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Android-powered BlackBerry PRIV gets in-depth hands-on, specs seemingly revealed


Few handsets have had the pre-release attention attained by the BlackBerry PRIV. With official (and somewhat less official) leaks dating all the way back to February, it’s safe to say we’ve been expecting this phone for a long time. It was initially teased by BlackBerry as a QWERTY-equipped slider which many assumed would be just another BlackBerry OS-powered smartphone. But that isn’t the case. The manufacturer confirmed recently that the PRIV would be a secure Android phone, and that it’ll be released soon…

Austrian site, derStandard, published an in-depth hands-on account of its time with the phone. While it confirms many of the things we’ve already seen, there is further information to note, including a host of previously assumed or unknown specifications.

First off is the display on the front. It’s a 5.4-inch curved display which packs in a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, giving it an impressive pixel density of 544ppi. It’s running Android 5.1.1, and is powered by a hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor paired with 3GB RAM. There’s 32GB internal storage (10GB already taken up by pre-installed software), which can be expanded using a MicroSD card. The PRIV also supports Bluetooth 4.1 and NFC as well as a number of modern LTE bands. One interesting factoid is that the MicroUSB port on the bottom supports USB 2.0 and nothing more modern. No USB 3.0 or Type-C to be found on BlackBerry’s first Android-powered smartphone.

We’ve heard about the camera previously, and  this hands-on corroborates reports that it will ship with an 18MP Schneider-Kreuznach camera which protrudes obviously from the back.

As for the experience, the writer notes that — for the most part — it’s a good overall phone. The display shows off vivid colors and has good contrast, competing directly with the likes of LG’s G4. Although the pre-release model tested didn’t include the feature, it’s expected that BlackBerry will use the curved portions of the display for things like showing battery charge level.

Speed and performance is apparently on par with last year’s flagships; HTC One M8 and OnePlus One were mentioned specifically. Once more, because it’s a pre-release model, there was a noticeable lack of optimization. It was fast and fluid mostly, and yet had noticeable lag. This is with an OS that’s mostly pure Android, with a few extra BlackBerry-made options. It was the same with the camera which — like the performance — was good, not great. It held up well in good daylight, but struggled in lowlight conditions.

The camera left a good, but not overwhelming, impression. Under daylight it performs as a fast snapper, providing pictures with good detail and realistic colors that seem to be a tad too dark. Once dealing with artificial light the shutter speed became noticeably slower, despite the optical image stabilization system. A phenomenon that caused visible impact in terms of picture quality.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before BlackBerry finally makes the PRIV available for consumers to buy. It’s definitely one of the most interesting devices of the year. Even if it isn’t enough to get the company back on track, it’ll be great to have an Android (almost) flagship on the market with a physical keyboard again.

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