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BlackBerry Priv Review

blackberry priv review

The BlackBerry Priv is, in my opinion, the most important phone of the year. That’s not something I say lightly. The Priv gets so many things right and has a uniquely beneficial experience that you can’t get on any other device, but like every other phone there are flaws. Is the Priv the phone of the year or just another nail in BlackBerry’s (née RIM) coffin?

This is our BlackBerry Priv review.

The Good


The Display

The display on the Priv is visually great. Colors are accurate, text is crisp, and the curve along the edge of the display makes Android’s slide out menus feel more real. My unit’s screen did have a little give in it towards the middle, but it didn’t seem to affect anything and hopefully was just a defect on my unit. The display is able to get very dim, but I have definitely seen displays that get brighter, meaning you may have some issues in direct sunlight.

The screen, of course, slides up to reveal the keyboard. It is not something you can make happen with a flick of the wrist (although with enough momentum in the right direction it is possible) because the locking mechanism doesn’t allow for it, which is a good thing. If the screen is off you can simply slide up by pressing at the bottom of the display to open it, but obviously that gesture is a bit of an issue with the screen on. In that situation there is a little raised edge along the bottom of the display, but above the speaker that is perfect for you to place your thumb under to slide up, even in one hand. The vertical slider isn’t a new form factor, but it is good to see a company execute it well.

My only complaint with this implementation is that you can’t slide down the slider to end a call. I have vivid memories of friends hanging up calls on their LG Chocolate feature phones. It seems like an obvious thing to add, but like the Pre, it isn’t there. Oh well.

Hardware Design

The Priv feels like a tank. A plastic tank, but a tank nonetheless. That’s not a bad thing, but don’t expect the Priv to delicately slide into your pocket. I actually found myself favoring placing the phone in the back pocket of my jeans while walking around. While the Priv is thick by today’s standards (and thin by 5 year ago’s standards), it is by no means unwieldy. The Priv always felt solid in hand and the grippy back made me feel very confident to hold and use the device in one hand. The body looks downright handsome in its stealth black paint. Where other phones look delicate with their bendable aluminum bodies and glass backs, the Priv feels like a solid, well constructed pocket computer.

The right side of the phone has the volume up and down keys and in between them is a button to switch between Do Not Disturb, Priority, or Normal notification levels. Unfortunately, repeatedly pressing the button does not cycle through the options nor can you use the volume keys to cycle between them. Also, the button doesn’t work with the screen turned off, so it’s really just a slightly faster way to get that screen up before you have to reach up to touch the display again. That said, the buttons do feel pretty solid if a little wobbly.

The power button is on the left. It too feels a little wobbly. I don’t know why BlackBerry didn’t put the power button on the right and the volume on the left like most manufacturers are doing now. Maybe the CEO is left handed? Regardless, double tap to wake is here and unlike the HTC A9 it works consistently.

The body of the Priv is curved to match the sloping glass on the front, but the middle edges are flat so that the phone is easy to grip. There are two logos, one in the back with just the logo and one at the front top of the device with the logo and the word BlackBerry. Both are in silver and are relatively unobtrusive, but I do wish manufacturers would stop stamping their names on the front of the phone. Like almost every other flagship phone there is a camera hump, but I rarely noticed it.

The bottom of the phone has a micro USB port (shame) at the center and the headphone jack on the right. It looks downright sparse and I love it. The placement of the headphone jack makes it relatively easy to find with a cursory brush against the bottom of the device.

The top of the phone features a micro SD card tray and the SIM tray. For whatever reason the SIM card needs to be placed on the bottom of the tray (facing the back of the phone) instead of on the top. This isn’t a big deal, but it is an odd design that was confusing at first.

KB

The Keyboard

The keyboard on the Priv is probably my favorite thing about it. Can I type faster on a software keyboard? Yes, but I can’t help but feel more productive on the Priv. If you have never used a phone with a hardware keyboard then it might take you longer to adjust, but I found that by the end of my first day with the Priv I had restored my old habits again.

My favorite use for the keyboard, though, isn’t typing. It’s scrolling. When I’m in Talon or Instapaper I adore being able to scroll with the keyboard. I find it’s akin to scrolling through text on a tablet where you have as much screen real estate that you can scroll with your thumb in the margin without noticing it’s there or, or course, to scrolling with a mouse. You can also use the trackpad to move the cursor around by double tapping and holding and then swiping to wherever you want the cursor. It’s not an easy to find gesture, but it’s better than the software version of pecking at the screen until it moves the cursor to the right spot. I do wish the trackpad feature was a little more robust so I could use it to swipe between panels in an app like Tweetings, but it goes a long way towards making the overall experience with text much better. If you’re able to focus on typing, though, it can be a wonderful, focused experience.

As you’re typing suggestions will pop up just above Android’s navigation keys. You can select these suggestions by tapping on them or by swiping towards them on the keyboard. Most Of the time I found myself just backspacing a correcting a typo when I saw it if autocorrect didn’t get it on its own, but for one handed typing it is useful. There is a dedicated symbol key that pops up a keyboard window with symbols that are then mapped to the physical keyboard, but I found it faster and easier to access this menu by simply swiping down on the keyboard instead of hitting the dedicated button.

As long as you’re using the stock launcher you can also set shortcut keys for individual presses or long presses on the keyboard. These shortcuts can be actions (like call so and so or turn off WiFi or add a new contact) or to launch apps. For example, I have T set to launch Talon, I Instapaper, G Inbox, M Apple Music, and K to speed dial my wife. I found this to be incredibly geeky and lovely. This is why nerds like us loved devices with keyboards.

Another related feature that I loved was the ability to jump to the top of an app by pressing T on the keyboard or the bottom by pressing B. Strangely this didn’t work in Chrome, but it did work in Instagram and Twitter apps like Talon, Fenix, and Tweetings. Being able to jump to the top of a list has been built into iOS for years, so having a hardware shortcut that works in many apps is nice to have.

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The software keyboard is about as good as any other, although the lack of swipe support will make it a tough sell for some. Rather than suggestions lining up above the keyboard words are placed all over the keys. Once you find the word you’re trying to type you swipe up over the word to insert it. It’s an interesting design, but I found most of the time it was faster for me to just type out the word.

I’m definitely faster at typing on the software keyboard that BlackBerry provides than on their hardware keyboard. Does that mean the whole conceit of the phone is useless? Absolutely not. It isn’t just about being able to type on the device, but rather about what kind of experience that affords. I love being able to look up at the screen and confidently type on the physical keys. I do that on a software keyboard all the time, but having that physical feedback still feels more reassuring. I do wish the keyboard had some of the improvements I mentioned, but the lack of those features is not a deal breaker at all. The Priv gives you options that you can’t find on any other flagship; that’s pretty surprising in 2015.

The Software

The Priv runs an almost stock version of Android 5.1.1 (that’s right, no Marshmallow on the most secure phone in the world), but there are a few changes to note. Notifications can be bundled by app, so if you have a ton of new notifications, but you really just want to see your emails you can tap on your email app icon and only see those in the notification shade. BlackBerry includes a Peek menu on the edge of the display to quickly see your calendar, favorite contacts, messages from Hub, and tasks. You can adjust the transparency of the menu and switch it to the right if you prefer or turn it off altogether. I did like being able to quickly see calendar events and favorite contacts quickly, but most of the time I forgot it was there. There are also little tweaks to the launcher like the ability to launch an app’s widget from the home screen by swiping up over it or a long press of the home button letting you swipe into Google Now, BlackBerry Hub, or Device Search.

BlackBerry Hub is an app that summarizes your communications for you. All of your emails and texts and calls and even social media bits can be found in one place. I can see this being really helpful for someone who either needs or wants a summary of their day regularly or who wants a notification center to go to because they find the notification tray too limited or lacking context.

Device Search is a limited replacement for Google Now that allows you to search your device or, if you don’t find what you want, you can tap a button to search the web or Drive or any other app listed under Extended Search. When you’re on the home screen if you start typing on the keyboard it will ask if you’d like to use Device Search or Google Now. Normally I’d say you should select Now, but that depends on the kind of searching you do. If you’re usually just wanting to search for an app or a contact then device search is fine. More importantly, if you use Now with the physical keyboard from the home screen you’ll find a frustrating delay. If I start typing my wife’s name, Katelyn, device search will type the whole thing. With Now, there is a delay between the first character and the app launching so that it misses the next two characters and types ‘Kelyn’ instead. If you wait for the app to launch after typing the first letter or your query then you’ll be fine, but that annoying delay led me to use Device Search for local searches and then launch Chrome for a Web search.

One change that I love on the Priv is the layout for multitasking. Instead of showing a vertical stack of cards, BlackBerry designed multitasking to show a grid of apps in varying sizes. Think of it like the Windows 8 Start menu for apps you already have open. Hitting the multitasking button and then thumbing through the list of apps on the keyboard’s touchpad feels like magic. Compared to the stacked card interfaces of Android Lollipop and Marshmallow and iOS 9, Blackberry’s implementation is a breath of fresh air. You can see more than one app with its preview clearly. It’s one of the biggest things I’ll miss when the Priv goes away.

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Somewhere-in-the-Middle


Security and Privacy

One of the things that BlackBerry prides itself on is security and privacy. The Priv is one of the worst devices of the year with regard to these two features for three simple reasons.

The first, and most important, is that the Priv lacks a fingerprint scanner. The Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, HTC One A9, Galaxy S6, and Note 5, all feature fingerprint scanners without being advertised as “secure” or “private” devices. Seriously, BlackBerry, what do I need to do for the privilege to have a fingerprint scanner to secure my device in 2015? It’s neat that I can type in my password or pin on a keyboard, but I’d much rather just wake and unlock my phone with a quick scan of my thumb and only type in that code at boot.

Screenshot_2015-11-24-21-11-07 Screenshot_2015-11-24-21-11-17 Screenshot_2015-11-24-21-11-49

The second is that DTEK thinks it’s secure for me to have a password or PIN that locks my device after 10 minutes. If I were to allow that setting then I could, in theory, unlock my phone to check Instagram and then set down my phone. From that point there is a ten minute window for someone to steal my phone and gain access to all of my accounts because he or she has access to my email. BlackBerry should not be giving that default setting a passing score. I also love that DTEK has a section that says that my device is secure because it is a BlackBerry.

The third is that the Priv runs Android 5.1.1. While this shouldn’t be too upsetting for users considering Marshmallow is only just over a month old, from a security standpoint it is a bit of an issue. Maybe BlackBerry will be quick with updates, but there’s a good chance that unless BlackBerry picks up the pace the OS itself will become a security issue.

Performance

Performance on the Priv was great. Between the Snapdragon 808 and the 3 GB of RAM apps launched quickly, ran well, and stayed in memory for plenty of time. The device does run hot when under the stress of a game (which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering this year’s Snapdragons) and battery life definitely takes a hit. That being said, the Priv took everything I threw at it with aplomb. If you live in a cold area and like having a warm phone with a physical keyboard then the Priv makes for a nice solution.

Audio

The front facing speaker on the Priv is great to see. It’s not a Boom Sound speaker or anything, but it’s plenty loud for speakerphone calls or listening to music in an otherwise quiet room. I put The Beach Boys on while washing dishes and I could hear Brian and the gang perfectly well. I do wish the volume got louder with headphones, though. With headphones the audio is certainly audible, but my iPhone and the Galaxies are able to get several clicks louder.

The Not-so-Good


Pricing and Availability

The BlackBerry Priv is available right now at AT&T for $24.67 per month on a payment plan or $249.99 on a 2 year contract. You can also buy the Priv directly from BlackBerry for $699.99. The model from BlackBerry will work with AT&T or T-Mobile. Verizon has promised that they too will carry the Priv, but I wouldn’t expect to see it until sometime next year (February is my guess). This isn’t the best availability we’ve seen on a phone, but my guess is that BlackBerry got a little kickback for being exclusive with AT&T for a bit. I’m also not a huge fan of the pricing, but remember most top tier phones have been within $50 of this price point until very recently. The reality is BlackBerry knows they aren’t going to reach Apple or even Samsung sales with this phone, so their average selling price needs to be higher in order for them to stay in business. I think that’s a fair tradeoff for those who want a BlackBerry (those people are still out there, trust me).

Battery Life

Battery life on the Priv was less than stellar. Like most of the phones we’ve seen this year, fast charging is a nice workaround for the same problem. The Priv actually has a decent sized battery in it and compared to its thickness I expected better results. On my first full day with the phone it lasted until 3:30 PM when it was around 10%. That morning I caught up on Twitter, streamed music to work, and worked on this review. On my second full day the phone was at 25% by 3:15 after some Twitter, gaming (Spider-Man Unlimited), taking some photos, checking Instagram, and working on this review. On the third day I managed to get to 4:15 before the phone hit 15%. As the week progressed I continued to get similar battery life, meaning you will almost certainly need to charge in the afternoon unless you don’t use your phone much. If you’re interested in the Priv the good news is that this news probably won’t dissuade you from getting the phone seeing as battery life is a problem on most Android phones.

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Cameras

The front facing camera on the Priv is good in bright light. In anything other than bright conditions you’re going to want someone else to take your selfies for you unless you love blue/green hazes over your photos. The fact that BlackBerry shipped a front facing camera this bad in 2015 just goes to show how little they care or know about what people want in a smartphone.

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The rear facing camera on the Priv takes good shots. The dynamic range was surprisingly good in shots where the light differed and it performs well enough in low light situations. I loved being able to frame a shot and pressing the spacebar on the keyboard to fire the shutter. That led to an experience a bit more akin to shooting with an actual camera and I felt like I was able to stabilize the shot better than I can if I have to push in a volume button or peck at the screen.

The frustrating and ultimately disappointing part about the camera is that it is downright slow. If you have children and don’t use a dedicated camera like a Fuji X100T to take pictures of them, don’t get this phone. For more relaxed shots like those in the gallery below it’s more than capable, but you will miss everything from your daughter’s basketball game with this camera. If you press down on the shutter (software, volume, or space) then you can shoot a burst of photos that will capture the moment (here’s a GIF to show how fast burst shots are), but there is always a bit of a delay that almost certainly ensures you’ll miss whatever you were hoping to capture at first and then everything after. In short, if you want to shoot photos of fast moving things be ready at any moment or do the responsible thing and get a better camera to capture those important moments. One other issue is that there can be some glare in shots with more direct sunlight (as seen in the image below with the Christmas tree), but that’s to be expected with most cameras. All in all I think the Priv’s rear facing camera is up to snuff to be your daily camera unless you take pictures of fast moving objects like children or dogs.

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Full Resolution: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

Video


Gallery


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The Verdict


In so many ways the Priv feels like everything the Palm Pre would have become. It makes me wonder if Palm would have done better if they had bet on large screens instead of tiny ones. The Priv features a lot of really good software ideas with interesting hardware, but the lackluster battery life and poor camera performance make it hard to recommend to anyone but the biggest keyboard nerd. If you don’t use your phone to take a lot of pictures and you don’t mind having to charge your phone then the Priv is worth looking at. This is heartbreaking to write because the Priv does so much so well and, most importantly, actually offers something you can’t get on any other Android phone.

As the year ends we like to look back and think about what phone was the phone of the year. I think the Nexus 6P is the clear answer for Android phones, but as I think about that answer it feels so boring. What makes the 6P the best phone? It has a good camera, runs stock Android, features a great fingerprint scanner, has good battery life because it is the size of a human baby, and features a premium design. Those are great reasons for it to be phone of the year, but there’s nothing really special about that. It’s the best because it does what every phone should do in 2015, but most still don’t.

The closest runner up is probably the Galaxy Note 5, but that’s not because of the Note’s main differentiator: size and stylus. The size of the Note 5 is in some ways a detriment because that size doesn’t translate into phenomenal battery life anymore and the stylus, while somewhat useful, will remain in its silo for most people either because they inserted it the wrong way or because they just don’t have a use for it.

If the Priv had a stellar camera and a fingerprint scanner then I think it would be a shoo-in for phone of the year, even with its mediocre battery life. Why? Because the Priv actually offers something that is different from any other phone (like the stylus on the Note), but it actually does some really useful things. Being able to quickly launch apps with shortcuts or call contacts is nerdy, but it’s easy to teach and incredibly useful. The multitasking menu is a breath of fresh air that looks nice and places function over form without sacrificing the other; something Apple and Google appear incapable of with their implementations. Being able to scroll over text isn’t the best thing since sliced bread, but it creates a less busy interface that helps the user focus on the content instead of trying to read around their thumb.

This is what differentiation is supposed to look like. It isn’t just making the software look different like we saw every OEM trying to do in the beginning of Android (and Windows Mobile) and it isn’t tacking on hardware with limited function. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the stylus on the Note 5, but it was nowhere near as functional or helpful as the keyboard on the Priv. Should every Android phone have a keyboard? Nope, but I would love to see manufacturers take inspiration from BlackBerry and actually try to differentiate their devices with interesting hardware that is focused around helping people use their devices better.

I’m really glad that BlackBerry made the Priv. I hope they sell enough devices to keep in business and keep trying to innovate themselves out of the hole they made for themselves. I never thought I’d say those words, but it’s true. We need better competition in Android because we don’t all need black slabs that do the same thing with slightly better battery life or slightly better cameras to differentiate. I want to see more than that, and I think the Priv is a great first step towards that reality.

  • Jeffrey Bowler

    My first work phone was a blackberry. Eventually I switched to iPhone for the functionality. I have been using the Priv for about a month after being a loyal IPhone user for 5 years. When I switched to IPhone I appreciate the functionality but always missed the hardware keyboard. I almost went for the passport but I did not want to leave Verizon. When the Priv was announced I said screw Verizon I want a hardware keyboard. So after a month I like the Priv. Since it is Android apps are not an issue. My only concern is battery life. When I wake up in the morning I check email, read the news and check the weather. By the time I leave my hotel room my battery is under 90%. I lose 10% before my day really gets started. I carry an external battery and I always have a charging cable with me because I don’t trust the battery life. As far as the camera, I don’t care. The Priv takes pictures. If I want to switch careers and become a photographer for the NFL I will use a real camera.

    The main features I want are hardware keyboard, incredible battery life and brilliant screen resolution. The priv covers 2 out of 3 of my needs.

  • The Doctor

    You know, the one thing I should have mentioned before is that this is probably the most honest review of the Priv I have ever seen. After using the phone for a month, I couldn’t handle the terrible cameras or the crappy battery life anymore. I don’t know why other reviewers downplay those issues. In the age of selfies and pictures, cameras are very important, especially the cameras on phones because they’re the only cameras most of us use. It’s important for them to be great.

    Another issue I had with the Priv is that the curved display was functionless. Yes, it shows a battery percentage indicator when the phone is charging from the cable and you can swipe left from the right curved screen to see appointments, but so what? That’s all it served. I still don’t see the need for curved displays.

    If BlackBerry would have made this phone with amazing cameras and great battery life, I would have kept it. But sacrificing those features for a physical keyboard is a failure, IMO.

  • Jim Berryhill

    why dont all of you people who talk about Blackberry still like usiing that nail in the coffin crap?..Think its about time you stopped the sh*t

  • stormberg

    There are much better phones! /Sal at http://www.consumerrunner.com/top-10-best-phones/

  • تقنية بلس

    العاب اندرويد مهكرة http://www.world-nology.net/

  • MKader17

    I think not having a fingerprint scanner is a good point but don’t for a second think that a fingerprint scanner is secure. It would be much easier to get someones fingerprint than figure out a 4 digit code, and once a fingerprint is stolen, you can never use it again.

  • The Doctor

    I don’t understand why you gave the security “somewhere in the middle”. You didn’t even mention picture lock, which cannot be hacked (unlike fingerprint scanners) nor did you mention that you can change the lock settings to “automatically lock at sleep” and “power button instantly locks”.

    • I think I clearly articulated why it was in the middle. Fingerprint scanners can’t be locked, but like every form of security they can be circumvented. And of course you can change the setting; it’s Android. The fact is that BlackBerry thinks it’s ok for a user to set their phone to lock after 10 minutes and call that secure. I think that’s pretty insecure.

      • The Doctor

        Ten minutes may be default, but it can easily be changed, like not that big of a deal. Any moron that can turn on a phone can figure that out.

        Security should be in the good section. The picture password is more secure than the fingerprint sensor.

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  • Bruce Banner

    It’s BlackBerry’s first android device. Pretty amateurish to criticise it for not releasing it with marsh mallow. There are always bugs with new and unique phones, the real judging should begin after the privs first update.

    You’re wrong about the battery life. Larger batteries take longer to charge also, they store more energy so that’s a weird thing to criticise.

    Am pretty bummed about the sound. Would expect a front facing grill that size to make the device comparable to a portable speaker.

    Will buy it just for the short cuts and universal inbox. Might be the first non bbos device that’s good enough at performing repetitive communication tasks quickly.

  • jtwildman1

    Good review. I would have to agree on the phone of the year statement. It says everything that is good and bad about smartphones now. It really is hard to find much to complain about these days. They all look great (I’m talking about premium devices), take excellent pictures, are fast with great screens blah blah blah… but there isn’t anything that’s a game changer. We could all throw our name in the hat for why this phone is great and this one sucks, but we really are just nitpicking aren’t we? I kinda wanted the Priv to be special too just because it was a little different than what we have gotten use to….even if that really is not a bad place to be comfortable.

  • Bruce Banner

    From what I can tell after reading other reviews you’re wrong about the battery life, seems a bit amateurish to complain about charging times (bigger batteries take more charge so take longer to charge) I am a bit bummed about the speaker, was expecting a phone with a grill that big to be almost as loud as a portable speaker.
    Fingerprint scanners are a fad and useless with hardcases.
    Complaining about android 5.1.1 doesn’t make much sense either. It’s their first attempt at android and it’s obvious the marshmallow update is coming soon.
    The judging should begin after it’s first major update.
    Think I’m going to buy it, just because I want to know if BlackBerry’s universal inbox and shortcuts can make android or ios bearable. Would be nice to have a BlackBerry that excels as a toy also.

  • CabbageHeadCat.

    Great article Ron. Is it a phone you might like to use for the next two years?

  • 4ron

    I take this review at face value but suggest any reader look at the USER reviews for the Priv on Cnet, Amazon, AT&T and other tech websites. I love mine for many reasons but functionality and efficiency stand out. I also own a Galaxy S 6 Edge which by the way isn’t perfect (terrible battery life, poor reception, finicky keyboard, expensive).

  • Anonymous

    I have a Priv and the battery life gets better and better with time. Not sure why, but I’ve had it three weeks now and the battery life is phenomenal. Way better than my old Samsung Galaxy s6. Thus, I have to disagree with the author on that point.

    I don’t do a lot of social media, so pictures aren’t a priority for me, but I will agree that the camera is only good, and not great.

    With that said, the Priv has made me productive again. It works great and I would recommend it to anyone.

  • Mike

    There’s a lot of bs comments on this post but my main question is why do you nexus fan boys want Blackberry to fail with Android? The more competition the better.

    • flosserelli

      Because for those guys, if it is not Nexus/AOSP, then it is not worth considering.

      • Matthew Merrick

        but this is the just about the closest you can get to an ASOP/Nexus, other than motorola…

        • flosserelli

          Yes, but it’s still not 100% Nexus/AOSP, so it is not worth anyone’s time. Typical fanboyism.

      • FknTwizted

        Only issue I have with manufactures’ ui is they are often cumbersome to the os and what you get with them hardly outweigh the negatives… this is not saying great things have popped up with them just seem like they are a hindrance then a positive. On the subject with BB their os was horrid but their security and emailing systems and most of the time the style and feel of the phone was to the nines that was one of the things i missed with owning a BB.

    • G.I.GIO

      Many are just masquerading as Nexus fans, they’re the same gravediggers that have been dogging BlackBerry in every single article about the company since BB10 was released.

    • FknTwizted

      with that being said in my lower comment I would love to see google give BB a shot at making a Nexus.

  • IqaluitZen

    I’m sure that Blackberry will be putting out a software update in the near future to make the OS run smoother and to “fix” the issues that “some” people are having. Otherwise, I think Blackberry has done an amazing job on the Priv, especially since it’s their first Android powered device.

    Not even the mighty Apple has released a new phone or iOS update without minor/major issues.
    I’m not sure if there is a OEM out there that has released a new device that hasn’t had some issues initially.
    Blackberry is in the unique position of being able to send patches and updates (especially critical ones) without the need of your carrier. That way you get the update almost immediately as opposed to having to wait for your carrier to send it to you.

  • onstrike112

    So battery life stinks when you play games on it? What a SHOCK!!! Not!

  • John

    You forgot to add the icrap to your list of phones with poor battery life. And to say the 6p is boring, well that also applies to the icrap no? Other than taking every chance to trash android phones, good review of the priv.

    • Yep, applies to the iCrap too. Turns out.

      • Mike

        Fanboys are annoying huh Ron?

  • Tony G.

    cant wait to see the priv 2

    • ChrisI

      likely won’t happen

  • Foodie 3215

    OMG, I’ll have to admit that while I don’t agree with Ron most of the time when on an Android site but I do think he is pretty spot on with the Priv. It is an important phone for BB. I think it is a ‘good’ enough phone to keep it a float as they hopefully will improve and learn that in 2015 you can’t put a 2mp front camera.

    • marplx

      I read somewhere that they couldn’t get anything bigger mega-pixel-wise into the pop up screen. Not sure if this is actual fact or not.

    • The Doctor

      It’s 2015. All phones should charge wirelessly, unlike the 6P. What a garbage phone.

      See what I did there?

  • trixnkix637

    The Good: Runs Android
    The Somewhere In The Middle: It’s a phone
    The Not-So-Good: Made by Blackberry

  • 8==D

    I think the reviewer is missing the point about the security, and the poor camera qualities. I think the phone is called the priv for a reason, and the majority of people who are going to be buying it, aren’t going to be particularly concerned over the quality of the camera, nor the absence of a fingerprint scanner. These have been done from a metadata collection point of view, for the end user. The person that buys this phone is a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist.

  • stabone

    I downloaded the keyboard apk. I really like it and type pretty fast with it. My only issue is there’s no long press for punctuation or numbers. THat’s a little annoying, but I think it has more to do with not being designed for any other phone.

    • dguy123

      swipe down on the keyboard. No need to long press anything. Long press letters get you a capital… longer press gives special characters like copywrite etc.

  • The Doctor

    I love my Priv. I have been getting 4.5 to 5 hours SOT. The battery drain is from the push of emails. I actually like this phone better than my Note5.

    • epps720

      so do you not have your emails synced to the phone? I should be receiving my Priv any day now and this battery (and camera) has me very concerned.

      • The Doctor

        The rear main camera is great. It’s the selfie camera that’s lacking. But I don’t take selfies so it’s not an issue.

      • The Doctor

        And my emails are synced to my phone, once an hour, instead of “push”.

    • ChrisI

      Is there a setting in Android to change the sync time of email pushes? Say from every minute to every 20min or something? Just curious.

      • Depending on the app you use, yes.

        • ChrisI

          I just use the Gmail app. Was perusing the “settings” the other day and couldn’t fnid anything like that. I mean, do I really need up-to-the-second email notifications?

          • Gmail uses push so it shouldn’t use much battery. I was using Inbox and it was never at the top of my battery usage.

      • The Doctor

        Yes.

        • ChrisI

          insightful

          • The Doctor

            Go into “Data Usage” in the email settings to change the sync interval. I have mine set to hourly.

  • pyro74boy .

    I can’t believe Ron put down his iPhone long enough to review the BlackBerry

  • Turb0wned

    An Android phone with garbage battery life and a bad camera… What a surprise.

    • pyro74boy .

      Camera performance on Android phones has gotten so much better just over the past year.

      • Turb0wned

        I agree for the most part but none except Samsung really compete with the iPhone. I don’t think it’s been a great year for Android unfortunately. They need to do something about bloat, battery life and cameras.

        • cns2007

          I think LGs camera performs quite well against both the iPhone and Samsung

          • flosserelli

            LG and Samsung both own iPhone as far as camera. I’ve had the G3, Note 4, S6, iPhone 6 & 6s, and there is no comparison. Anyone who thinks iPhone still has the best camera is either in denial, has cataracts, or is smoking crack.

          • G.I.GIO

            When you can afford to spend $2 Billion a year on marketing like Apple does you can get away with it. BlackBerry and others can’t afford to compete with Apple on the marketing front, especially when Apple has already hired the best of the best.

        • pyro74boy .

          Sorry but I disagree because cameras have gotten so much better ever since the note 4 and anyone not looking for bloat can go out and buy a Nexus device right now. The iPhone still remains the most overrated phone of all time but will no doubt still sell in make Apple Richer each and every single year because it’s Apple but not because it’s a superior phone

          • Turb0wned

            The iPhone might be overrated to you but not other people. I buy many different phones a year. I use both. While the iPhones OS is boring as hell, the iPhone 6 Plus works with no Lag (Looking at you Samsung) has a beautiful screen, excellent battery life, excellent camera.

            I loved Nexus phones, always have and have had all of them except for this years. Cameras have always been an issue with them. While my buddy (another big nexus guy) says the camera this year is much improved, battery life isn’t great yet again. I can’t comment for myself as I haven’t tried it yet.

            Had the Samsung 6 edge. Battery life was crap. Bloat, lag.

            The LG G4 is trash, that lagged as well and battery wasn’t great.

            Moto X has terrible batter life and again camera isn’t great.

            Had a Xperia Z3 as well. Excellent battery life but the camera on auto wasn’t that impressive. Loved this phone though.

            New note, can’t comment for myself. I’m sure the battery life is great and so is the camera but again… Samsung touchjizz and bloat up the ass.

            I do plan on getting a Nexus 6P but will still keep my iPhone 6 Plus S.

          • pyro74boy .

            The iPhone is overrated period as each and every year when Apple claims innovation on their phones almost always Android had it first. I’m getting sick and tired of people claiming that Android phones lag yes it’s true some of them do but also many of them don’t. My samsung galaxy s6 Edge plus runs as smooth as silk and has zero lag

          • flosserelli

            I agree iPhone is overrated, but you really cannot expect to be taken seriously by claiming your S6e ran “as smooth as silk and has zero lag”. I had a S6 and it lagged just like every other Samsung phone I’ve owned. Nova Launcher helped, but nothing will completely exterminate lag from Touchwiz.

          • pyro74boy .

            I’m speaking from my own user experience so what you think is pretty much inrelevant to the situation because I’m speaking from my own personal experiences.

            I’m also very aware of what lag is as some of the past phones I have used lagged so bad to the point that you just wanted to shatter the phones in pieces and throw them out with yesterdays trash.

          • flosserelli

            I am speaking from my own personal experience as well, and my opinion is just as valid as yours.

          • trevorsalienarms

            To be fair, if they “do not have the ability to perceive it” then it doesn’t exist to them.

          • flosserelli

            Touché. However, just because it may not exist to one individual does not mean others cannot perceive it, and thus it still exists.

          • trevorsalienarms

            Oh, agreed. But it would seem that given the vast numbers of Galaxy models Samsung is able to sell, most owners lack the ability to perceive it. In other words, it’s not a problem frustrating most average users…at least those users that aren’t posting comments on an Android enthusiasts’ site like you and I are. 😉

          • flosserelli

            I don’t think most Samsung owners lack the ability to perceive lag. I think they just don’t care. It’s one of things users have grown accustomed to and accept, until they use a Nexus or a HTC or a Motorola.

          • pyro74boy .

            Two completely different people having two completely different user experiences. I’m not going to admit that my TouchWiz device lags until it actually does so at this point it’s pretty much useless arguing back and forth because my Edge Plus does not lag at all so don’t even try to speak for me. Just downloading an app can make your phone slow down especially if it’s an app that wasn’t made for the device that you’re using. People continue to hate on Samsung and claim that TouchWiz sucks but my first hand use prove otherwise

          • flosserelli

            Well I am genuinely glad your S6e demonstrates no lag for you. Consider yourself lucky, because most S6/S6e owners are probably not so fortunate.

          • pyro74boy .

            I hope that you realize that we aren’t even comparing the same devices because I have the Edge Plus not the regular s6 Edge

          • flosserelli

            Touchwiz is Touchwiz. It *is* better than all previous versions, but it’s still Touchwiz.

          • pyro74boy .

            You’re still not comparing apples to apples for the simple fact that these two devices came out at two different parts of the year with the Edge Plus being the newer of the two devices

          • Turb0wned

            Your opinion… You know what a fact though… Someone that says the Galaxy S6 doesn’t lag is lying. And your battery life is trash as well.

          • The Doctor

            Samsung phones don’t have lag anymore.

            That tired trope needs to go away.

        • trevorsalienarms

          Here ya’ go. Seven Android device’s cameras ranked above the iPhone.

          http://www.dxomark.com/Mobiles

          • Yep, I can confirm rear cameras are better on Android phones now. Doesn’t mean the iPhone camera is bad by any means, but Android cameras are finally really great. Front facing needs some work on Samsung and BB, though.

        • Suicide_Note

          I guess you’ve been living under a rock for the last year.

  • h_f_m

    Where other phones look delicate with their bendable aluminum bodies and glass backs…

    Really? You went there with the “bendable”.. almost stopped reading but I was glad I continued to be witness to the Nexus 6P “size of a human baby” and Note 5 “stick the stylus in the wrong way” as the reason people won’t use it comments. I’m loving my 6P!

    And what is up with that picture of you holding a coffee cup in one hand and a thumb pretending to type with the other. Did you really expect us to believe you were using it like that? Could you perhaps elaborate more on the keyboard-as-a-trackpad feature because it seemed you glossed over it like everyone should automatically know how that works and how well it works. I am guessing that was what was happening there in docs, not actual editing.

    • Usually it was the opposite hand, but yes, I have enjoyed a beverage while using the Priv one handed (usually scrolling, not typing, though you can type with it one handed). The keyboard as trackpad has been available on previous BlackBerries. I don’t know how else to describe it. You swipe your finger over the keys and it scrolls.

      • h_f_m

        Thanks for that, never having used a previous BB wasn’t aware it was a common feature on their devices. So you just run your finger along the keys without pressing them down?

        • Exactly. Almost like a scroll wheel that doesn’t move.

    • moew

      Ron should be bant from this website. And I know I’m not the only one that thinks that.

      • Suicide_Note

        While I may not always agree with him, I think he brings a different yet well thought perspective to things. I’m glad he’s still around.

      • Mike

        Why? Because he uses an iPhone as his primary phone? This review and other pieces by Ron have always been unbiased and relatively spot on.

        • moew

          Ron, is that you? I didn’t know he was a fapple supporter. Makes my case and point even sweeter. Thanks for sharing!

  • flosserelli

    Here we go again with “it’s a great device, but…

    I suppose that is to be expected since this is Blackberry’s first attempt at an android-powered slider phone. I sincerely hope BB will be around to offer a follow-up model.

  • xBURK

    Great read, thank you. I’m getting the Priv soon. Just wondering if you downloaded recent update for DTEC? Many are getting drastic improvement to the Priv’s battery life afterwards.

    • Just got it yesterday I think. Haven’t noticed anything yet, but I’ll let you know.

      • Bruce Banner

        Only had it for a day?
        Thats not enough time to nail an in depth review.
        Couple of weeks at least.

  • master94

    Arent fingerprint readers the least secure way to secure your phone. Wouldnt the lack of it be a good think?

    • jimt

      Yes, for the most part.

    • What makes you say they’re the least secure?

      • Mike

        It’s fairly easy to lift prints off the phone and use them to unlock it I’ve heard.

        • It’s actually pretty difficult to do, but it is possible.

      • Genkidama

        Most of the intelligence community could do it if they want to with a warrant. Your average Joe, highly unlikely, but it is possible.

        I am in the intelligence community. I would say it is more secure though than many of the previous methods. Biometric security is used in the intelligence community already for many years.

    • John Kitchen

      Fingerprint security is the exact same level of protection as a PIN or Password because at any point the user can choose to enter a backup password and bypass fingerprint. The best fingerprint scanner in the world won’t protect data when the code is 1234.

  • Droid Ronin

    I think that the Priv is a solid effort from Blackberry being its first attempt at an Android phone, but it still can’t measure up to the big OEMs that have been making Android phones for years. I’m sure they’ll continue to get better with the 2nd Gen devices.

  • Mike

    I agree with the 6P being boring. It is a dull phone. I hate when people dismiss new or different features as “gimmicks”.

    • liquidamber5

      I couldn’t disagree more. As Ron himself indicated, “It’s the best because it does what every phone should do in 2015, but most still don’t.” That alone is exciting for me. I don’t necessarily need my phone to be “exciting”. The fact that it does all the things I need it to do is excitement enough.

      • Mike

        That’s great for you. I do like my 6P don’t get me wrong, but I prefer my Note 5 because of design and multitasking features. The beauty of Android is that we can disagree. Not everyone’s phone is the same unlike other operating systems I know of.

        • moew

          My 6P gets me hard every single day.

          • Mike

            Power to you bro. I can’t say any tech object gets me hard, that’s what the wife is for. Lol

        • Chris Hughes

          Wow, a rational and polite person on droid-life. A rare and marvelous species!

      • pyro74boy .

        My phone is not a Nexus device and it does everything I wanted and needed to do and then some so I fail to see your point?

        • liquidamber5

          You fail to see it because I never stated that your phone doesn’t do what it needs to do for you. My response was to Mike’s statement that the 6P was boring. The sentence about the Nexus doing what every phone should do is in quotes… meaning it’s not my statement. It’s Ron’s. And it falls in line with my reasoning for loving the phone. Which doesn’t say that you shouldn’t love yours. What’s so hard to understand?

  • Tyler Durden

    So battery sucks, performance sucks, and cameras sucks. Thanks BlackBerry

    • ChrisI

      They tried.

    • flosserelli

      I suspect the majority of target buyers (die-hard Blackberry fans) will forgive those shortcomings.

      • ChrisI

        is it just the QWERTY they care about then? If that’s the case, BB *really* could’ve cut some more corners then to boost their profit margin.

        • flosserelli

          I think Blackberry made the decisions regarding cost-cutting. The SD808 is no slouch. I suppose Blackberry could saved some bucks by going with SD805 or MediaTek Helio X20, but you probably wouldn’t want anything older than those in what may be your last ditch effort (not if you plan to update beyond android 5.1). Android devices have had historically subpar cameras until Samsung and LG got serious about smartphone photography, and android users are already accustomed to crappy battery life. The hardware QWERTY keyboard is Blackberry’s ace up the sleeve. That keyboard will be the first thing potential buyers evaluate, and it will continue to be a daily metric for the life of the product. Blackberry cannot afford to go second-rate on that feature.

          • Adil Tajgeer

            i played with it while waiting at an att store, and holy balls, the keyboard is horrible.

    • moew

      Is your best buy store selling this jalopy?

    • IqaluitZen

      I totally disagree with that.
      The battery lasts more than a full day, the performance is top notch as is the camera.

      • Tyler Durden

        I’ve read the opposite in many reviews.

        • The Doctor

          You obviously didn’t read Android Central’s review. They say the Priv is one of the best phones of the year. Two different reviewers on the site said that.

      • ChrisI

        I’ve not read a single objective review that holds that same position on any of those areas.

        • IqaluitZen

          Try doing a web search and read more reviews.
          There are some great ones on Youtube.
          Also, testimonials from actual users (people I know) have said that their battery lasts all day (with heavy use) and with plenty left in the tank at the end of their day.

        • Chuck

          What makes you think these reviews are objective? I think this particular review is very incomplete and seems to parrot talking points that are simply not true or misleading at best. Example: “I can type faster on a virtual keyboard.”

          Well, I suppose you can because you’re accustomed to it. I guarantee, however, that with a few days of practice, you will be far faster on the hard heys, especially with BlackBerry’s swipe-up suggestions that can be placed without removing your thumbs from typing position. I have raced many people with all kinds of software keyboards, and not ONE has ever even com close to the speed and accuracy of me and my Passport. I guarantee that after three days of use, the physical keyboard will be far faster because, well, it’s a better design. You don’t have to look at the keyboard while you type.

          Likewise with the camera. BlackBerry tends to do camera software as if the person using it knows something about photography. I don’t know about the Priv, but on BB10 there is an Action Mode that can be toggled very quickly. It uses faster focus and faster shutter speed. It works well. Very well. I have thousands of shots going back years to prove this.

          And on and on. Why would you assume the review is objective? Ever heard of PR?

          Swiped and typed from the brilliant keyboard of my BlackBerry.

          • ChrisI

            Anytime I read a review of a phone, and it isn’t constantly every other sentence being compared to the iPhone, I consider it to be objective. Since most tech reviewers are testing, using, and writing reviews on different/new phones practically once a month, that’s also another good indicator of objectivity. Level of detail is another factor. I think each and every one of us has a “brand” or a “UI” that we prefer, so their is a bit of subjectivity that gets thrown in does skew the reading sometimes. But Ron only mentioned “iPhone” one time in his review, for audio nonetheless. So I credit this review as being fairly objective.

          • RayGun187

            Your exactly right when you say parrott talking points. All these people do is watch each other’s reviews to know what side of the fence they should be on. When the first wave of reviews came out every single reviewer said the exact same thing. “Well looks like it’s to little to late for blackblerry.” The next wave said “we can all type faster on the on screen keyboard”. If any one of these monkey’s used the hardware keyboard for a week they would be way faster with it. Just has a higher ceiling. I just wish we had some original thinker’s doing these reviews.

      • charlie2010

        Battery is amazing, calling it anything else indicates bias or incompetence.
        If he gave the phone a 2 week trial I’m sure he would have figured out how to maximize the battery like most skilled reviewers seem to do.
        This guy sure is nit picking…doesnt like the sd card placement, wtf….how does its placement compare to an iphone, probably liked the fact iphone lacks them 😉 and wouldnt dare say otherwise.

    • JeffColorado

      I actually really want BB to make a comeback with Android. But it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen. They waited too long.

    • Rassy

      This will most likely be BB’s last phone. They will go out with a wimper.

  • ChrisI

    Solid write-up, Ron. I appreciate the time you put into this.

    I’ve been bummed about what I’m reading on the Priv both here and other tech areas. Personally, wished the phone were 5″ and landscape keyboard. Camera quality sounds pretty bad from most reviews I’ve read. No USB-C…lazy cost-cutting. Battery life hasn’t had a single positive review yet. And to top it off…$700?!?!

    Too bad BB.

    • Frenchman75

      How about you go to an AT&T store and try it for yourself instead of believing Apple Fanboi Ron? lol Check out AT&T customer reviews online. PRIV is amazing, both battery life and rear camera are great! Check out real reviews (Android Central, Phone Dog, Wall Street Journal, The Next Web, The Register, Techno Buffalo…). None of these professional reviewers complain about them and they absolutely love the PRIV!

      • ChrisI

        I should go to the AT&T store so that I can get a solid month-long review about battery life? Or take a whole bunch of pictures inside the store that I can only view on the phone?

        http://www.knowyourmobile.com/mobile-phones/blackberry-priv/23345/blackberry-priv-review-good-just-not-great-yet
        “Battery performance is sketchy at best”

        Techno Buffalo? Please. Here’s a “Nexus 6P v. Blackberry Priv: Which One Should You Buy” article, and the author almost immediately says “I can’t give you a definitive answer because I have yet to use the BlackBerry Priv.” Useless click bait, waste of my time.

        I’ll keep reading reviews though. I was a huge fan of the Priv and hoped they really knocked it out of the park. But for $700, it’s not gonna cut it for me with the 808, 3gb RAM, 32gb storage, no stylus, no USBC, a portrait keyboard.

        • Frenchman75

          Trust me battery life is rock solid and will get even better with software updates! Battery on my Passport Last 2 days after 6 months! Go to AT&T or Carphonewarehouse websites and check customers reviews. They love it and think battery life is great!

        • Suraj B Hegde

          If I was landscape keyboard you’d still be saying “no stylus, no USBC, a *landscape* keyboard”…! xD

          • ChrisI

            A 5″ Priv with a landscape keyboard wouldn’t need a stylus. And USB-C is the future. Ultimately, the Priv gives me too much old tech for $700

          • Suraj B Hegde

            What isn’t OLD TECH in today’s phone evolution? ~_-
            It takes max 3-6 months to become a phone old (by its rivals, max 1 year — by its predecessor).
            If you know BlackBerry / RIM; you wouldn’t say that 🙂

          • Suraj B Hegde

            Which isn’t old tech @Chrisl?
            ~_-
            Everything is…! At least after dozen months…!
            Better to have this as no other android has Physical Keyboard (at least not available everywhere & isn’t not that comfortable OS )
            -_-

          • ChrisI

            Why do you keep arguing with me? Am I not allowed to have my own f*cking opinion?

          • Suraj B Hegde

            Come on @Chrisl!!!
            Just saying my opinion about changing mobile platform and needs :-/
            Don’t take personally x_x

          • ChrisI

            Like I said, for $700 it’s not gonna cut it for me with the 808, 3gb RAM, 32gb storage, no stylus, no USBC, a portrait keyboard. Move along, brother. You keep barking up my tree and there’s no cat.

      • Godzilla

        You trust reviews on a wireless provider store? LOL LOL LOL LOL

      • MattBoan

        Almost every official review for trusted sites has shot the Priv down in various ways. The only people still in love with the Priv are those that are reminiscing over their crackberry obsession days. Everyone else has realized that Blackberry kind of dialed this one in without doing anything special.

    • 4ron

      I agree with Frenchman75. Try this phone out. The camera only lets down on low light and the battery is more than sufficient.

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    • The Doctor

      USB-C isn’t needed with a phone that can charge wirelessly.

    • Time Machine

      Solid? What is this the 90’s?

      • ChrisI

        Huh?

  • eric

    ron thinks the 6p is a boring vote for phone of the year because it does everything well?

    does this mean gimmicks or radical designs get bonus points just because? how could the priv go against the s6 or any of it’s variants?

    • Mike

      Radical designs and what you like to call gimmicks are something known as innovation. I’m sure you’d like to see the same old boring slab design with little to no features but a lot of people think otherwise.

      • Work

        I have had many smart phones over the years and I’ve come to realize that of all the new/gimmickey/etc things that are thrown at the latest smart phone, please just make it work as advertised. If it doesn’t work as advertised then I tend to stop using it. I just want a smart phone that works “everywhere” and not one that lacks in certain areas. Hence, it seems as of now that’s the 6P.

      • eric

        i don’t think a sliding keyboard is a radical design. maybe if it didn’t add thickness or at least ended a call like every other phone from the clamshell days i could agree.

    • I don’t think gimmicks get points just because, as I indicated with the Note 5. The Note 5 is a good phone and a real candidate for phone of the year, but that isn’t because of the stylus. The Priv, on the other hand, if it had great battery life and a great camera, would easily be the phone of the year simply because the keyboard allows you to do really helpful things that you can’t do on other phones. That’s meaningful differentiation rather than a gimmick in my opinion. That doesn’t mean the 6P is a bad phone – I like the 6P, but I think Android is big enough that we should be seeing more hardware innovation than we’ve been seeing lately.

      • eric

        i see where you are coming from, but phones have evolved to much that they are nearly perfect. you are almost asking them to make a rounder wheel.

        the priv adds a keyboard that has functional shortcuts at the cost of thickness. i’m not sure if that’s design innovation.

        if you don’t like the note 5 for the additional features, why not the s6e+?

  • Yeah Ron

    Huge Ron fan.

    • Suicide_Note

      What, no love for Little and Medium Ron?

      • Tyler Durden

        He almost said huge rod fan.

        • eric

          he almost said that, but you totally did :p

  • Roby

    Yet another review that doesn’t mention Picture Password…
    In case anyone’s interested regarding this nifty security feature:
    http://helpblog.blackberry.com/2014/02/how-to-use-picture-password-in-blackberry-10-os-version-10-2-1/

    • I’d rather use a fingerprint scanner personally, but I get why some may like that feature.

      • Roby

        I like them too, mostly because I can unlock my phone in front of anyone that way.
        With Picture Password people can stare as much as they want and they won’t figure out how to unlock my phone. That’s why it was kind of a big deal when I found out about it. Now I might actually end up buying the Priv as my next device.

      • Mark Snider

        I’ve gotten used to fingerprint scanners, so ultimately went with the 6p. I was seriously considering the Priv though, good first effort

      • charlie2010

        I’m sure Google and the NSA are grateful that you are sticking with fingerprint scanners too.

        • Carlos Lopez

          I never understood people like you. Like I get the jokes but if you have driver’s license they already have them

    • Suicide_Note

      I wasn’t aware of it before reading your comment, but that’s a neat feature.

    • EDIT: nothing…nevermind…don’t mind me…

    • تقنية بلس

      العاب اندرويد مهكرةه http://www.world-nology.net/

    • phone dude

      PRIV should be renamed to POS

  • Rob Miller

    So now we have to start sharing BBM’s again?