Okay, so up until this point, I was waiting for my cell contract to expire and for my personal phone I was rocking a sweet, little BlackBerry Q5. But then my contract ended and I have upgraded to a BlackBerry PRIV. I was a bit hestitant that it would live up to the $410 on a two-year contract price, but it has exceeded all my expectations. Allow me to take some time and explain why.
I still get to keep my BlackBerry Hub AND it’s even more customizable!
BlackBerry Hub is the single best feature of any BlackBerry 10 smartphone. Now that I get to keep it on my BlackBerry device that runs Android, it’s even better.
What is the BlackBerry Hub? It is a custom area that combines all your text messaging, calls, email and messaging apps in a single area. You can customize which apps are included, as well as which ones should be given priority. It’s always accessible, on a BlackBerry 10 or this sweet, sweet PRIV, by tapping the envelope icon at the bottom of the screen. Your integrated task/appointment list is always accessible by swiping left on your screen.
You can customize which side your task lists/calendar appears on, its size and transparency. As for your Hub, you choose which apps and accounts get included. Never toggle between messaging apps, email, text messaging, calendar notifications and more. Instead, you can organize everything in custom categories and access them easily and lightning fast by swiping to whichever side of the screen you’ve chosen to keep it on.
BlackBerry’s Android skin/launcher is also amazing!
I won’t sugarcoat it for you, this will take a bit of getting used to. After all, your settings are split between a couple different areas (there is no app for that) and you have a hidden app drawer, (but Android itself is probably dropping the drawer entirely with Android N anyway.) Once you do figure it out, you’ll love it.
First off, let’s tackle settings, after all, you’ll want to be playing with those first and tweaking them to your liking. Your BlackBerry Hub settings are accessible from the gear icon in the Hub itself. The rest of the settings are accessible from the top notification panel’s gear icon. You have to swipe down from the top of your screen and then swipe down farther. The grid pattern icon at the bottom of every screen is for your app drawer, widgets and personal customization like icon packs and wallpaper.
Next up, you’ll probably end up wanting to create some app folders to save some precious homescreen space. I normally group these by app type like news, audio, bubble games etc. Just take two apps you want to put in a folder and drag them into one another and voila.
Be sure to make use of your widgets as well. Tap that grid pattern icon at the bottom of the screen (it’s the one in the middle) and then open the widgets tab, drag and drop the ones you want where you want them. Not a fan? Press and hold the screen to be able to remove apps and widgets.
Also, be warned, BlackBerry is pushing BBM, hard. You’ll want to block those notifcations. Go to settings (the ones in the notification panel, then apps, then sound and notifications and then tap App notifications.)
Finally, BlackBerry also includes a wide array of custom shortcuts that are pre-made for you. Choose the ones you want in your settings under shortcuts. (That’s the grid pattern icon in the bottom middle of your screen and then the Shortcuts tab.) Then simply drag and drop the ones you like such as Add contact or Call voicemail to the screen of your choice.
You have two keyboards and they are both the best I’ve ever used
The selling point for me of the BlackBerry PRIV is the physical keyboard that slides out from the bottom and helps me text at lightning speed. This physical keyboard is much nicer than the one on my old Q5, where you had to pound the keys a bit hard. This one is much more responsive, and it still maintains everything that makes BlackBerry keyboards glorious.
I should have guessed that their onscreen keyboard would be just as good, if not better. You get pleasant vibration to let you know you’ve hit a key and the keyboard is also larger than most, which is great if you are farsighted or have larger fingers.
Also, instead of a super annoying autocorrect, you have something that actually works. As you type, BlackBerry tries to predict the word, when you see the right one, swipe up on that letter key to complete the word. Tap and hold any word not in its onboard dictionary to add it. This is everything autocorrect should be. Simple and easy to use, with all the features right there instead of several settings screens away.
The display is so crisp, and sharp. I have never seen its equal. It makes me see how terrible all my other smartphone screens have been.