More reports on: Telecom

BlackBerry's first Android device, Priv, goes on sale

07 November 2015

Canadian mobile devices maker BlackBerry is targeting  mainstream audiences for the first time in years with the BlackBerry Priv smartphone.

The device operates on the Android OS system, rather than BlackBerry's own operating software, a first for the company.

According to commentators, it could be the last if the Priv failed to appeal to the customers.

According to chief executive John Chen, BlackBerry's hardware division needed to become profitable before the end of its fiscal year on 29 February, or the company might stop making phones and focus mainly on sales of its security software.

Going by Chen's calculations, BlackBerry would need to sell 5 million phones in the current fiscal year to break even, and with the company about halfway through its financial year, it still needed to sell 3 million phones.

The sales would mostly need to come from the Priv device, since BlackBerry's Passport and Classic considered antiquated in the ever-evolving technology market.

The Priv has a smart modern look, with its 5.4-inch screen, 18-megapixel camera and a dual-touch screen and slider keyboard option.

However, it also carried a steep price tag of $899 at BlackBerry's Canadian web store without a carrier contract, which made it the most expensive Android phone on the market.

"This is a buttoned-up device that seems more at home in the boardroom than it would at the bar or pool hall," said Ramon Llamas, research manager of mobile phones at IDC Canada, a market research firm, reported.

The new Priv comes with a physical slider keyboard, which is rather unusual on Android phones these days, and something of an engineering feat given that the phone still feels thin.

BlackBerry devices are known for their security and privacy protections, and some of the features had been built into the Priv's hardware.

The device's security is rated by an  app on factors such as whether users had enabled a passcode. This app can also identify other apps that grabbed personal information.

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