The BlackBerry Priv is the sole option for Android users looking for a high-end phone with a physical keyboard. But, here in the States, the phone is currently only available on AT&T. Want the Priv? You need that carrier. Network not good in your area? Tough.
Except, that's about to change. BlackBerry announced at CES that the phone will soon come to the other big three carriers. T-Mobile will get the phone on January 26th. Sprint and Verizon will presumably get the device at some point after.
In BlackBerry's home country of Canada, Rogers, Bell, and Telus are all already supported.
BlackBerry launched its first Android phone with a promise of speedy updates to maintain security. The company is off to a good start at least. The first OTA for the Priv is rolling out now to unlocked devices, and it'll be available to carrier-branded units beginning on December 7th. It updates the security patches, tweaks performance, and more.
We've checked out the BlackBerry Priv, and it's pretty good - Android fans who have been begging for years for a high-end phone with a QWERTY keyboard will love it. But what comes next? According to CrackBerry, it's the phone you see above, codenamed the "Vienna." It's similar in style and layout to the Priv, but with a keyboard that's fixed in place as opposed to the slider mechanism on the Priv. There's no original source for the images, so we'll classify them as rumors for the time being.
That said, a more conventional BlackBerry design, presumably with a cheaper price point thanks to simpler hardware, makes a lot of sense.
AT&T is offering two new phones today in hopes of locking you down for the next few years. On the premium end of the spectrum is the BlackBerry Priv, and then there's the more budget-friendly LG G Vista 2. They both have a niche feature that's something of a blast from the past. The Priv has its keyboard and the G Vista 2 has a stylus.
When I was in high school, BlackBerry was still an up-and-comer in the US cell phone market. The sleepy suburb I grew up in really had no widespread knowledge of them until after I had left for college. And when you start college in 2006, a year before the first iPhone (released at the end of my freshman year), it’s probably not surprising to learn that shiny-new-MacBook toting shiny-new-adults at a big state school turned up their noses at something as staid and “establishment” as a BlackBerry. Everyone who was into “cell-phone-as-status-symbol” knew it was the iPhone that was changing everything.
The recent Stagefright vulnerability in Android led to new expectations for security patches. Google, Samsung, and LG have all said they will work to get monthly security updates out to users, and now Android newcomer BlackBerry is doing the same. The company says buyers of the Priv can expect to get monthly patches, but there are a few caveats.
The PRIV represents a turning point for beleaguered BlackBerry. Once the most dominant player in the smart phone arena, BlackBerry has diminished worse than the elves of Rivendell since the rise of iOS and Android. Desperate for relevancy, BlackBerry has abandoned its own OS in favor of the OS created by the competitor that crushed it into near oblivion. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?
Say what you want about BlackBerry's past blunders, at least their first entry into the Android arena comes with high-end specs and some pretty compelling reasons to consider it over other competitors.
Now, a few weeks after the PRIV's announcement, we have confirmation of when BlackBerry fans, or curious Android lovers, can get their hands on the new device.
The PRIV is BlackBerry's first true Android device. It's something that we, and a considerable portion of die-hard BlackBerry customers, have been looking forward to for a long time. But there are a couple of things that might make potential buyers trepidatious: one, a relatively high price tag of $699, and two, well, it's BlackBerry's first entry on a new software platform. So what are the highlights, aside from the obvious slide-out QWERTY keyboard? BlackBerry would like to show you. The video below is a highlight reel of what makes the PRIV different from other Android flagship phones.
Earlier this week Blackberry's official online store posted a pre-order page for the Priv, a high-end QWERTY slider phone that also happens to be the company's first full Android device. Apparently that was a bit premature - it disappeared after a short time, but not so short that prospective customers didn't balk at the $749 USD starting price. Today the pre-order page is back with a slightly cheaper price: $699. Was the original page an error or did Blackberry see the quick reaction and adjust it down? We couldn't say. The page says the phone will start shipping on November 6th.
After years of trying to make it work with its BlackBerry OS, the once-dominant Canadian smartphone maker is giving Android a shot. The company acknowledged the existence of the Priv (previously codenamed Venice) with an awkward video demo by the company's CEO, but now there's a more professional intro video out.