BlackBerry Priv pre-orders officially begin: $699 in U.S.

The perceived premium price may be worth it for those that prefer Android thanks to the hardware keyboard and BlackBerry's rich security-minded heritage.
Written by Kevin Tofel, Contributor

After a false start earlier this week with a $749 price tag, BlackBerry has opened up pre-orders for the BlackBerry Priv phone at $699 in the U.S. Customers in Canada can order the handset for $899 CDN while U.K. customers can reserve one for 559 including VAT.

The pricing change is welcome because a $749 may be a bit too aggressive for a company trying to ramp up hardware sales. There are plenty of viable Android and iOS options at that cost.

Even $699 might put some off, particularly since BlackBerry has made a large number of its apps and services available on other platforms.

So why buy the Priv at all, in that case? Two reasons spring to mind.

No other high-end Android smartphone has a hardware keyboard, for example. Obviously, Apple doesn't make -- and never has made -- a handset with physical keys. So fans of hardware keyboards that want to use Google Android as their mobile platform may gravitate to the Priv.

The other reason may be even more important though. As BlackBerry noted this week, it has a bottom-up approach towards security and data privacy, starting with the hardware itself. Given the growing number of security scares and malware hitting the Android platform, security-minded individuals, not to mention enterprises, may not mind paying a perceived premium for the BlackBerry Priv.

If you've forgotten what you're getting inside, the Priv, it compares favorably to most comparably-priced Android flagships:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor with Adreno 418 GPU
  • Curved 5.43 inch 2560 x 1440 pixels resolution plastic AMOLED, 540 ppi, with Gorilla Glass 4
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB of internal storage with microSD card slot
  • Rear 18 megapixel camera and front-facing 2 megapixel camera
  • 3410 mAh battery with Quick Charge 2.0 support
  • Integrated wireless charging supporting PMA and Qi

Indeed, there's little missing from the list that I'd be looking for when compared to a Samsung Galaxy S6 or Nexus 6P, for example.

Would the Priv be even more attractive with a lower price than those? Sure; you can buy a 32GB edition of the Nexus 6P for just $499; the $649 model is still cheaper than the Priv and includes 128 GB of internal storage.

Even so, BlackBerry's security heritage is far more richer than that of Google's, although the latter is making an effort to catch up. And that could sway some who never considered a BlackBerry purchase but enjoy using Android to give the Priv a try.

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