BlackBerry Priv (CDMA)
BlackBerry said this week that it will no longer provide monthly system and security updates to its BlackBerry Priv smartphone. The company originally committed to providing updates for a period of two years. "Having now stepped outside the original two-year window, we will no longer be delivering monthly updates for the Priv moving forward," said the company. That doesn't mean all support for the phone will stop. The company said it will still honor any warranty obligations it has for hardware repairs. Moreover, BlackBerry claims that its handsets are inherently more secure than most other Android devices thanks to the hardened core and monthly updates up until this point. BlackBerry said if a critical vulnerability is exposed in the Priv, it will work to correct the problem as needed. Last, BlackBerry said it has partnered with BlackBerry Mobile to help legacy BlackBerry owners upgrade to newer hardware. Customers still using the Priv or other BB10 or BBOS devices will soon be able to upgrade to a BlackBerry KEYone or BlackBerry Motion smartphone. Specific details regarding the trade-in program are still in the works.
BlackBerry's trio of Android smartphones can now download a series of system and software updates that add features and bolster performance. BlackBerry Hub+, for example, now allows users to hide specific accounts or stop them from syncing, as well as create custom views for emails from specific contacts. The BlackBerry Keyboard app has been improved with easier switching between languages, expanded Chinese language input, and support for fingerprint authentication (DTEK60 only). The BlackBerry Launcher has a new dark theme, and BlackBerry Password Keeper introduces a built-in browser, autofill tweaks, and support for non-Latin characters. Google says Priv, DTEK50, and DTEK60 owners should receive notifications once the updates are available to their handset.
Verizon Wireless today made Android 6.0 Marshmallow available to its version of the BlackBerry Priv. The new system software makes a significant number of changes to many apps and services on the phone. To start, it adds WiFi Calling, Now On Tap, and the Marshmallow runtime permissions. It also improves the BlackBerry Keyboard, floating phone icon, launcher, camera, and contact apps. The launcher, in particular, now allows owners to separate their work and personal apps from one another. Android 6 Marshmallow for the BlackBerry Priv is free to download via WiFi. AT&T updated its Priv to Marshmallow in July.
BlackBerry today said it will cease manufacturing the BlackBerry Classic handset. The Classic debuted in December 2014 and is one of the last devices from BlackBerry to run BlackBerry OS. The device featured a traditional BlackBerry design with a touchscreen and physical QWERTY keyboard. "It has been an incredible workhorse device for customers, exceeding all expectations," said BlackBerry. "But, the Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone in today's market. We are ready for this change so we can give our customers something better – entrenched in our legacy in security and pedigree in making the most productive smartphones." BlackBerry says it will continue to support the Classic and expects to roll out BBOS 10.3.3 in August. The device is still available online from select retailers. BlackBerry's most recent smartphone is the Priv, which runs Android. The Priv debuted in late 2015.
BlackBerry today made software updates available to the Priv smartphone. The revised apps mostly fixes bugs, but also improves how well the camera and keyboard perform. For example, the camera app now includes manual mode so lets users adjust shutter speed, ISO, focus, white balance, and exposure. BlackBerry created some physical keyboard shortcuts for the camera, too, such as press-and-hold the letter A to return to auto mode, and press the spacebar to take a picture. The Priv's keyboard gains support for new languages, such as Vietnamese and Korean, and shortcuts such as CTRL + B to bold text or CTRL + U to underline text. BlackBerry says the new apps are available in the Google Play Store and will reach Priv devices over the next few days.
BlackBerry Priv smartphone owners can now swipe across the keyboard to input text, rather than press individual letters. BlackBerry says Priv owners have to turn on Type By Swipe manually, and can choose to swipe either on the software keyboard or the physical keyboard. Turning on swipe, however, disables the existing swiping gestures (for accessing symbols, deleting entire words, etc.) that are part of the Priv's physical keyboard. BlackBerry said it is looking at ways to allow Type By Swipe and its other swiping gestures to work at the same time. The Type By Swipe input tool was added to the Priv with the Android 6.0 Marshmallow update. Privs still running Android 5.1 can access these features by installing a new version of the BlackBerry keyboard app, available in the Google Play Store.
BlackBerry today said Priv owners can expect to see the Android 6.0 Marshmallow system update hit their devices in the days ahead. BlackBerry has been testing Marshmallow on the Priv for a couple of weeks. In addition to all the usual Marshmallow trappings, the update brings with it 200 new emoji, more keyboard gestures, and enhanced word prediction. BlackBerry took steps to improve the launcher, which now offers more control over the home screen, and increase the number of apps compatible with BlackBerry Hub. The update includes the latest security patches from BlackBerry, allowing Priv owners to set custom personal data permissions, better manage notifications for privacy purposes, and make use of S/MIME for adding digital signatures and encryption to emails. Last, BlackBerry added several new options to the camera, including a wider range of video frame rates, such as slow-motion. BlackBerry said unlocked, non-carrier devices will see the update first, but all Priv's should receive Marshmallow shortly.
Sprint appears to have had second thoughts about selling the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. In January, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said the device — initially an AT&T exclusive — would reach Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Since then, T-Mobile and Verizon have launched the Android-based slider. Sprint has not. When questioned on Twitter, the official SprintCares account told consumers, "Sorry to say but we will no longer carry the BlackBerry Priv. If this changes in the future we will update customers." When asked directly, a Sprint representative said to Phonescoop, "At this time, Sprint does not have an availability date to share for bringing a smartphone from BlackBerry into our device lineup." BlackBerry has not commented on Sprint's change in plans. BlackBerry sold only 600,000 smartphones during its most recent quarter and cut the Priv's retail price from $699 to $649.
BlackBerry has given the Priv a price cut. The smartphone maker dropped the price of the phone from $699 to $649. The company hopes the price drop will spur interest in the Android-based slider. The company sold about 600,000 smartphones during its most recent quarter, which was below expectations. BlackBerry has been transforming itself from a hardware business to a software and services business, but the company still needs hardware sales to generate revenue. BlackBerry CEO John Chen has said if the company cannot make money selling smartphones, it will exit the smartphone business entirely.
BlackBerry is opening the Android OS in Beta Zone program so consumers can download and test Android 6.0 Marshmallow on the Priv smartphone. BlackBerry says space in the beta program is limited. Consumers who bought their Priv directly from ShopBlackBerry, Amazon.com, or Carphone Warehouse will be admitted into the beta program first. Those who purchased the Priv through a wireless network operator will have to wait. Registration will be open for the next two weeks. BlackBerry expects to push the first beta to devices over-the-air during the second week of April. The program will last between four and eight weeks. BlackBerry said beta testers will be expected to enable background diagnostic reporting so performance data can be analyzed by BlackBerry's development team. BlackBerry hopes beta testers will also provide direct feedback concerning speed, stability, and other factors. Android 6.0 Marshmallow adds features such as Doze and Now On Tap.
Verizon Wireless is now offering the BlackBerry Priv to customers. The device is available for purchase online beginning today, and will reach retail stores March 11. Verizon is selling the phone for $30 per month with an installment plan or at the full retail cost of $720. The Priv runs Android and has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The Priv is already available from AT&T and T-Mobile.
BlackBerry has updated several apps for the Priv smartphone and added several compelling features along the way. The Priv Launcher now includes separate views of personal and work apps, allows users to remove shortcuts from the home screen via flicking gestures, enables pop-up widgets by default, and improves overlays so users can see more information about apps and other settings. The Priv Camera gains better slow-motion video capture, which can now record at 120 frames per second. The Priv Keyboard app (for the on-screen software keyboard) improves predictive typing accuracy and control. For example, predictive typing can now learn words with numbers, and can suggest names from the contact app when users address emails. The keyboard app also gains refined cursor control and full-word delete. All three apps are free to download from the Google Play Store.
Google is now delivering a security patch to Nexus smartphones and tablets. The patch resolves 10 issues, of which five are considered to be critical. The two most severe problems could allow for remote code execution through a WiFi driver and a media server. Google found the vulnerabilities in January and alerted its hardware partners to the problems. The security patch is available via factory images from Google's developer web site, but the company will push the update out over the air in the days ahead. Google plans to provide a new version of Android 6 Marshmallow to the Android Open Source Project in a day or two. Google says to the best of its knowledge that the security holes were not exploited. BlackBerry, too, is pushing the February security patch to the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. Other phone makers are expected to deliver the patch in the weeks ahead.
BlackBerry today said Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless have all agreed to sell the Priv smartphone. T-Mobile's variant launches January 26. Sprint and Verizon haven't yet set sales dates. The Priv is already available from AT&T. The carrier deals are a major win for BlackBerry, which claims demand for the Android-powered device is robust.
BlackBerry today said Priv owners can download and install a system update that improves the performance and security of the Android-based slider. BlackBerry says the refreshed OS should deliver smoother performance across the board with greater stability and fewer app crashes. The camera should now be faster and better able to capture images in low light. Further, the update includes the most recent security patch from Google. BlackBerry says the update, which comes in at 475MB, is available to download over the air to handsets purchased directly from BlackBerry.com. Consumers who've purchased the Priv through carriers will have to wait until Dec. 7 for the update. Last, BlackBerry plans to update its camera, keyboard, Hub, and DTEK by BlackBerry Android apps in the days ahead. New versions of these apps will be available in the Google Play Store starting Dec. 14.
The Priv is BlackBerry's new flagship phone, but it's also much more than that. As the company's first phone to use Google's Android instead of a BlackBerry OS, it represents a major new strategic direction. It also comes as the company is considering whether or not to continue making phones at all, so its success is crucial. The Priv has a premium design with a slide-out keyboard, curved-edge screen, and high-end camera. How is it in person? Read on to find out.
Verizon Wireless took to its Twitter account to tease the BlackBerry Priv smartphone. "Priv by BlackBerry. The first-ever BlackBerry powered by Android. Coming soon," said the company. A link in the Tweet leads to a landing page on Verizon's web site where people can register for updates concerning the Priv. The Priv went on sale in the U.S. this week. It is a vertical slider with a 5.4-inch screen, physical QWERTY keyboard, and an 18-megapixel camera. It costs $699.
BlackBerry today made the Priv, its first Android smartphone, available for preorder. The device is a vertical slider that includes a touchscreen and a physical QWERTY keyboard. Like the BlackBerry Passport, the Priv's keyboard can be used to move the cursor around and scroll through web sites, emails, and documents. The Android operating system includes exclusive BlackBerry apps and DTEK for managing privacy. DTEK gives owners granular control over device permissions and what personal data is shared with third parties. The phone includes BlackBerry Hub for managing email, BBM, text messages, and other communications. The Priv has a 5.4-inch quad HD screen with curved edges. The phone is powered by a Snapdragon 808 processor with two cores at 1.8GHz and four cores at 1.2GHz. The processor is accompanied by an Adreno 418 GPU, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. The camera has an 18-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/2.2, optical image stabilization, two-tone LED flash, and HDR, panorama, and burst modes. It can capture 4K video. The user-facing camera has a 2-megapixel camera with wide-angle selfie mode. The Priv packs an integrated 3,410mAh battery, which supports rapid charging and provides more than 22 hours of mixed user. Wireless radios include Bluetooth 4.1, GPS, NFC, WiFi, and LTE (AT&T/T-Mobile). The phone costs $699 and will begin shipping Nov. 6.
BlackBerry today posted some official images of the forthcoming Priv smartphone. The Priv is a vertical slider that runs Android. It offers a full QWERTY keyboard and can be managed by BlackBerry's enterprise software, making it a secure handset for business users. The images shared by BlackBerry clearly reveal a curved display, similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. BlackBerry will share more details about the phone in the weeks ahead.