BlackBerry Ltd.: Can the Priv Compete With Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Phones?

BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) is facing very tough odds.

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The Priv from BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) is now available for pre-order, pitting the device in direct competition with flagship phones from Apple, Samsung, and others.

The biggest rival for the Priv is the Samsung Galaxy S6 line of devices. This includes the regular S6, the S6 Edge, and the larger S6+. So, how exactly does the Priv stack up with the S6?

A comparison

Priv S6 Phones
Price (USA) US$699 US$576-768
Price (CAN) $899 $730-950
Carriers (USA) AT&T and T-Mobile All carriers
Battery 3,410 mAh 2,550-3,000 mAh
Screen 5.4 inches 5.1-5.7 inches
Special Features BlackBerry Security
Slide-out keyboard
Dual-edge display
Wireless charging

As can be seen above, the Priv and S6 phones have similar price points, so the devices will compete on quality alone. And we can see some important differences.

The Priv clearly has some advantages for office use, which shouldn’t be surprising for a BlackBerry offering. The slide-out keyboard should make for faster typing, which is critical when responding to emails. The higher-capacity battery should allow the phone to last over 20 hours on a single charge. And, of course, BlackBerry’s expertise in securing mobile phones is always a big advantage in the workplace.

The S6 phones have plenty of advantages, too. The dual-edge display in the S6 Edge and S6 Edge+ add another dimension to the phone’s capabilities. The Priv does have features like the S6 Edge, such as a slightly curved screen, but it isn’t nearly as robust as Samsung’s. The ability to charge S6 phones wirelessly is an attractive feature. The camera and video recorder are topnotch. Put simply, if this device isn’t used in the office, there is no reason to prefer the BlackBerry Priv.

Two big disadvantages for BlackBerry

Although the playing field may seem level, the Priv is facing a significant uphill climb for a couple of reasons.

First of all, the Priv is not available on the Verizon, Sprint, or U.S. Cellular networks, meaning it can only be used with AT&T or T-Mobile. Verizon’s absence is a particularly big blow, since the carrier is regarded as a high-priced, higher-quality option. That should eliminate a chunk of BlackBerry’s target market.

Secondly, BlackBerry is still held back by its damaged brand. To put it simply, shoppers tend to gravitate towards winning brands, and the smartphone industry is no different.

So, the Priv will have a very tough time competing against Samsung this holiday season. This should eventually lead us to the real question: Should BlackBerry simply abandon the smartphone business altogether?

Only time will tell.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Benjamin Sinclair has no position in any stocks mentioned. David Gardner owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.

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