BlackBerry Ltd.: the Priv Reviews Are in

BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) has just released its first Android phone. Is it being received well?

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Now that BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) has released the Priv, the online reviews are pouring in. We take a look below at the positives and the negatives and try to determine what this means for the phone’s future.

The positives: fantastic specs

While performing a demo of the Priv on The Business News Network, BlackBerry CEO John Chen promised that the phone would have “the latest specs.” And BlackBerry has certainly backed up this promise.

The front of the phone features a very sleek 5.4-inch curved screen, and the back is coated with a “glass weave” material, making the device easy to grip. The slide-out keyboard is very durable and comes with intuitive shortcuts for the user. BlackBerry has loaded an 18 MP camera on the back, one that takes very good pictures even in low light. And the 3,410 mAh battery allows the phone to last hours longer than rival’s phones.

BlackBerry has added some nice wrinkles on the software side, too. Most notable is an app called “DTEK,” which alerts you whenever your phone has been compromised and rates your security settings. The company has also integrated its famed BlackBerry Hub into the Priv.

The negatives: some execution problems

BlackBerry is counting on the Priv to revive the company’s declining handset business. Unfortunately though, the company has no experience making Android phones. And that is starting to show.

While reviewing the phone, The Verge reported some very significant bugs. Its first unit froze four times. The phone overheats occasionally. The touchscreen sometimes has some bad misses (which we saw during Mr. Chen’s demo). Apps on the Priv occasionally slow to a crawl. Pocket dials were common.

There are other issues. The camera may be high resolution, but the shutter is very slow and can even take a full second with HDR mode on. The email client has some trouble with Gmail. The BlackBerry Hub isn’t perfect either, with The Verge claiming it runs very slowly.

The verdict

It’s natural to expect some challenges with BlackBerry’s first-ever Android device. But the company has such high goals, so there is practically no margin for error.

Remember, the Priv is facing enough hurdles as it is. The phone is priced at a premium. It is not yet available on the Verizon network in the United States. And many will be turned off by the BlackBerry brand altogether.

Thus if you own BlackBerry shares and are counting on the Priv to spark a comeback, it may be time to rethink your investment. And if you’d rather see the company abandon its smartphone business altogether, you’ll likely get your wish.

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. Verizon is a recommendation of Stock Advisor Canada.

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