BlackBerry Priv comes to India: Here's what you should know

For those looking for the convenience of all the Android apps they can't live without, but are also conscious of securing their phone, the Priv is definitely the answer. But is it overpriced?

Harichandan Arakali
Published: Jan 28, 2016 12:55:01 PM IST
Updated: Jan 28, 2016 01:12:07 PM IST
BlackBerry Priv comes to India: Here's what you should know
BlackBerry Priv will go on sale in Indian markets from January 30, 2016

Can't do without your Android smartphone, but worried about all the security scares about how hackers are increasingly targeting Android smartphones, the most common mobile phone software?

Help is at hand from a company rooted (pun intended) in security. BlackBerry, famous for the security features that its smartphones and enterprise mobile device management software provide, and for its unbeatable keyboard, recently released the Priv, the Canadian company's first Android phone.

The smartphone is now in India, but at the stiff price of 62,990 rupees. Many might consider an iPhone 6S 64GB instead or for those who crave phablet screen sizes, an iPhone 6S Plus.

The Priv was long-rumoured, often with the code name Venice, and then confirmed by CEO John Chen, and finally released officially in October. Narendra Nayak, managing director in India and Damian Tay, senior director for Asia Pacific at BlackBerry released the phone at a launch event in New Delhi on Thursday.

For those looking for the convenience of all the Android apps they can't live without, but are also conscious of securing their phone, the Priv is definitely the answer. And, finally, here is a BlackBerry handset that supports 4G in India.

More on how BlackBerry has secured its Android phone, which currently runs on Google's Android Lollipop 5.1 version, can be found on this post by Alex Manea, BlackBerry's own Director of security, but one example is the Priv has "always-on full disc encryption."For those who want to know more, BlackBerry has published its own security guide to the Priv.

It is also the best of both worlds in terms of the hardware. The Priv packs a beautiful dual-curved 5.4-inch display, but from underneath the display slides out a full-qwerty physical keyboard, which is touch-enabled and allows one to flick words up on the screen, scroll up and down, move cursor positions and even delete words and sentences.

BlackBerry says on its website that at 540 pixels per inch the Priv's display – with resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels – has four times the pixel density of a standard HD television. The display is also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4. For all that, the phone is slim, at only 9.4 mm in thickness, and light enough for easy one-handed use.

One complaint about BlackBerry's smartphones running its own operating system was that the processors were old, even though they got the job done without a hitch. The Priv answers that quibble as well, with a hexa-core Qualcomm 8992 Snapdragon 808 64-bit chip and the Adreno 418, 600 MHz graphics processor.

Internal memory is at 32GB and the phone has 3GB of RAM. A memory card expansion slot is provided as well, which allows SD cards of up to 2TB. Powering the handset is a 3410 mAh battery that the company claims is good for 22.5 hours of mixed use, which for most of us should be good enough.

The Priv has an 18 MP dual-flash camera, which is certified by Schneider-Kreuznach, the 100 year-old German lens maker, whose lenses were used to monitor the last servicing of the Hubble space telescope in 2009.

The camera scored an impressive 82 on tests run by DXO Labs, an independent testing service provider, which puts the Priv alongside the Apple iPhone 6S for the quality of images shot on the camera.

The camera has various professional settings as well, including live color filters and exposure control and Phase Detection Autofocus – using multiple sensors to detect how well the subject being shot is in focus and make corrections until the best focus is achieved.

BlackBerry's audio has always been superb, best exemplified by the stereo speakers and extra noise cancellation features on the BlackBerry Z30. The Priv doesn't disappoint either, with its sound bar integrated into the slider across the full width of the phone, which also adds a distinct look to the phone.

For those who love it, the BlackBerry Hub, which integrates all messages in one place, is very much present in the Priv, as are all the standard BlackBerry 10 applications. And the swipe-up gesture from the BlackBerry OS is carried over as well. Only in this case, in addition to revealing the hub, the Android user has the option of selecting Google Now as well.

BlackBerry Priv will go on sale in Indian markets from January 30, 2016.

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