BlackBerry Priv Official Price in the Philippines is Php 45,000 or $1,000 USD! Actual Unit and Unboxing Photos, Initial Impressions!

BlackBerry Priv costs only around $699 in the US and roughly $630 in China. So I don't understand why BlackBerry had decided to sell it for a whopping $1000 USD in the Philippines. Yep, the handset will don an official price tag of Php 45,000 when it lands here come mid-December 2015, making it one of the most expensive mobile device to be released in our country ever.

Worth it or not, this is how the standard retail package looks.

BlackBerry Priv, BlackBerry Priv Box
For those who are wondering, 'Priv' is short for Privilege and Privacy; Two things that, according to BlackBerry, this handset gives to consumers. Given its price, this model better deliver those exactly.

BlackBerry Priv, BlackBerry Priv Box

As the first Android phone of BlackBerry, Priv combines all the main strengths of the BlackBerry OS 10 - especially when it comes to security and messaging - with the wide and dynamic Android ecosystem. As such, this release is ideal for current Android fans who are thinking about getting a BlackBerry and being more familiar with the legendary consumer offerings of the Canadian brand but aren't quite ready to lose their access to the vast app market of Android.

BlackBerry Priv, BlackBerry Priv Unboxing

Yesterday, I graced BlackBerry Asia Pacific's invitation for the intimate media launch of this flagship slider handset in our country. The event was held at Sala Restaurant in Makati City -- and there, I finally got the chance to see the much-talked-about first Android-based smartphone of the Canadian company in the flesh and to play with a unit for a bit.

BlackBerry Priv

Allow me to share my initial impressions about this very pricey model.

BlackBerry Priv

In terms of looks and construction, I have nothing by praises for the product. This is not the first slider that BlackBerry had worked on - they've had the Torch line, if you remember those - so they've pretty much got the mechanism down pat. In fact, for a full touchscreen handset with a slide-out full QWERTY keyboard, Priv is incredibly slim and feels light yet very solid when you hold it; I think that says a lot about how well BlackBerry designs and crafts its products.

BlackBerry Priv
"I've always felt that all BlackBerry phones should have a keyboard. I've had many BlackBerry phones in the past and that's the feature that I loved about those handsets. I think Priv is a great step forward; Catering to the needs of touchscreen lovers who like enjoying content on a large display and making hardcore BB fans happy by having a full physical keyboard," I told Mr. Matt Stewart, Director for Communications of BlackBerry APAC during our chat after having lunch.

BlackBerry Priv
The keyboard is stellar -- as one would expect from a BlackBerry smartphone. The keys look identical to what's on the BlackBerry Passport but they are arranged in a more familiar layout. This entire keyboard also works as a touchpad for navigating the phone's interface, which is one of the innovations from BlackBerry that I absolutely love.

"Maybe, eventually, BlackBerry can come up with Chromebook hybrids or notebooks that incorporate this type of keyboard. I think it's the future and with a few tweaks, it can render the touchpad obsolete. It's an incredible innovation," I told Mr. Gautam Shah, Product Manager of BlackBerry, during our interview.

BlackBerry Priv

BlackBerry Priv measures only 9.4 millimeters at its thickest point and weighs just 194 grams; As I've said, that's already very slim and light for a slider phablet donning a massive 5.4-inch display.

BlackBerry Priv

The crisp and brilliant AMOLED screen curves gently down either sides ala Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and like the Korean Giant's flagship phone, Priv's Android UI also has a tab on the side that you can pull out to quickly access your favorite contacts when you need to make calls or send text messages, among other things.

BlackBerry Priv

The body of the phablet - housing its internal hardware - is made of polycarbonate that's quite light-weight and durable. The slide-out screen, on the other hand, is framed by aluminum, which is both sturdy and elegant.

BlackBerry Priv
Both the microUSB port and 3.5mm audio jack are found at the bottom.

BlackBerry Priv
With the keyboard out, this is how Priv's top frame looks.

BlackBerry Priv
The all the hardware buttons as well as the design accent framing the camera module at the back are made of real metal.

The device is equipped with an 18 MegaPixel autofocus rear camera with Dual Tone LED flash, optical image stabilization, and Schneider-Kreuznach optics. I tried snapping a few shots using this at the venue I think its performance is pretty decent for a shooter on a 2015 flagship smartphone.

I can't say the same thing about the less-than-spectacular 2 MegaPixel front facing cam, which almost unforgivable considering how much this phone costs. The selfie cam probably takes good shots outdoors where there's more than enough natural light but indoors or in low light settings, selfie cams on far more affordable midrange Android phones by other brands would give you better looking images.

You can argue that BlackBerry does not really cater to consumers who love to take selfies. But here's the thing, the company already bothered to put a cam in front, they could have at least made it worthy of a flagship release priced at $1,000, right?

BlackBerry Priv
The handset's back plate has this Kevlar-like glass-weave skin design similar to what's on the shell of Blackberry Q10.

Well, anyway. The phone's internal hardware - like its main camera - are also rather decent; I mean, they could be better but they are not bad for a handset of this caliber. Priv runs its BB-app-laden Android 5.1.1 Lollipop operating system with a 64-Bit Hexa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC, has 3GB of RAM for multitasking, and comes with 32GB of expandable storage. This LTE-enabled device is powered by a non-removable 3,410 mAh Li-Ion battery that - according to our friends at BlackBerry - deliver more than 22 hours of uptime with regular use.

BlackBerry Priv

Although lacking a fingerprint scanner for enhanced user security (that's already available on other Android smartphones), BlackBerry Priv features a handful of software innovations that make it an ideal handset for users who value their privacy.

According to the Canadian handset maker, "There's the exclusive DTEK by BlackBerry app for Android that monitors and reports on application access to the microphone, camera, location and personal information, making users confident that their personal data is being kept private. Users can know at a glance when their privacy could be at risk so they can take action to improve it. BlackBerry’s hardware root of trust, a unique manufacturing process, [also] injects cryptographic keys into the device hardware, providing a secure foundation for the entire platform. Keys have [likewise] been embedded to verify every layer of the device from hardware to OS to applications in order to make sure they haven’t been tampered with. Additionally, thousands of modifications were made to harden the Linux kernel with numerous patches and configuration changes to improve security. [And finally,] PRIV can be integrated with our leading EMM solution, BES 12, which offers cross-platform management of PRIV and other devices; providing a full end to endsecurity solution and secure collaboration applications for business users like Secusuite for secure voiceand WatchDox for secure file sharing."

In all objectivity, I think all of the above-mentioned features could very well make BlackBerry Priv the best Android smartphone when it comes to mobile user privacy and security.

BlackBerry Priv
And also, in terms of looks, it can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of them and not feel a bit shy. I think I should mention that too.

Overall, despite having several areas for improvement, BlackBerry Priv - for me - remains to be the best smartphone that the company has come up with so far. The device's form factor as well as its heavily-patched Android OS show that BlackBerry is doing everything it can to find its place - and even its own self - in this whole new mobile landscape dominated by competitors from the East. The company is turning to its legacy and legendary strengths as a brand and I think that is always a good place to start when trying to regain a lofty status.

Honestly, I had a 'crush at first sight' on BlackBerry Priv yesterday but I was immediately turned off when I learned about its over-the-top SRP. If only this model were more affordable, I bet many consumers - especially former BB users - would be more than happy to get it for themselves as a Yuletide present or as a new gadget to jumpstart 2016. Nonetheless, I know too many hardcore BlackBerry fans who'd get this no matter how much it costs.

TechPinas Smartphone Technical Specs Table (TSTST)
Name BlackBerry Priv Philippines
Type Slider, Slate Form Factor (Full Touchscreen) with Slide-out Full Keyboard
Price Category High-End (Flagship Level)
Dimensions147 x 77.2 x 9.4 mm
Weight 192 grams
Available Colors Black
Operating System Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with pre-installed BlackBerry software
Display 5.4 inches (~71.9% screen-to-body ratio), 1440 x 2560 pixels (~540 ppi pixel density), AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, Curved Glass
Processor 64-Bit Hexa-Core = Dual Core 1.8 GHz ARM Cortex-A57 + Quad Core 1.44 GHz ARM Cortex-A53, Adreno 418 GPU, Qualcomm MSM8992 Snapdragon 808 chipset
Internal Storage 32 GB ROM, expandable via microSD card slot supporting up to 200GB
Camera Main: 18 MegaPixels, Schneider-Kreuznach optics, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), autofocus, dual-LED (Dual Tone) flash

Front: 2 MegaPixels
Video Capture Main: 4K 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps,
Front: HD (TBC)
Audio and Video Playback MP4, DviX, XviD, H.264, H.263, WMV, MP3, WAV, FLAC, eAAC+, WMA player
Ports microUSB v2.0, USB On-The-Go, 3.5 mm audio jack
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP, LE, apt-X, EDR, 3G HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps, HSPA+; LTE Cat6 300/50 Mbps
FM Radio No
Sensors Accelerometer, Digital Compass, Gyroscope, Proximity
Network 2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, 3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100, 4G Network LTE 800 / 1800 / 2600 (TBC)
SIM Card Type nanoSIM
Battery 3,410 mAh Li-Ion battery
Uptime TBD
Value-Added Features Slider Form Factor, DTEK BlackBerry Privacy and Security Software
Announcement December 3, 2015
Availability Mid-December 2015
Price Official SRP: Php 45,000