Devices – November 2015

Blackberry is back this month with a new piece of hardware called the Priv! There is still a fair bit of anticipation when new Blackberry devices hit the market yet more recently they have mostly been met with disappointment. We also manage to take a look at the HTC One A9 which some users may confuse with popular devices from another manufacturer… we’ll let you draw your own conclusions! See how they both got on below.

Blackberry Priv

Priv_RightAngle_openThe Priv marks a historical moment for Blackberry, it is the moment they realised their platform BB10 could no longer compete in a crowded market and they were better off making smartphones for the Android OS. As for Blackberry’s expectations CEO John Chen has said he wants to sell five million Privs in the next year. That’s compared with Apple which sold 48 million iPhones in its last quarter. In its last quarter, Blackberry managed just 800,000 device sales.

When it comes to the price (£559) Blackberry has aimed the Priv directly at the premium end of the market and has its work cut out if it wants to stand out from the crowd. The Priv is packing a 5.4-inch QHD display, Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and 18MP rear camera which means it can hold its own… on paper at least.

The screen quality is excellent and curves at the edges which is a nice touch, the Android platform has also been left alone in the main and feels very clutter free. The major selling point is the added security functions Blackberry brings to the table, the device actually tells you how to improve the security of your handset on top of all the clever stuff they have been doing behind the scenes.

The Blackberry faithful will be delighted to see the signature QWERTY keyboard has been kept and can be neatly slid behind the device to make it look like a conventional smartphone. After using an iPhone keypad for years I did struggle with the keys but there is also a regular touch screen keypad for those that prefer to touch rather than press.

This is a great high end device but I fear Blackberry aren’t going to win enough hearts with the entry at the top end of the market. The performance was generally good but patchy at times. I do like the fact Blackberry continue to take security seriously, especially after the Good acquisition, and that may appeal to a lot of business users in the wake of the recent cyber attacks in the main stream media. The problem is while this competes with models released in 2015 we are now only about four months away from some big 2016 launches, not to mention the iPhone which has just launched. All of these phones will undoubtedly eclipse the Priv in terms of specs.

 

HTC One A9

Although the HTC device may look like the iPhone6S it definitely doesn’t perform like it. HTC have stripped back the smartphone to make it clean and easy to use which is great but weirdly HTC have a lower UK spec than the device they have launched in the US. The UK version will receive 16Gb of storage and 2Gbs of RAM and will cost approximately £429… that’s expensive for a low spec phone!

HTC-One-A9Design similarities aside the build quality is actually excellent and it feels great in the hand. The 13MP camera may disappoint some from a numbers point of view but it actually performs really well and is a step up from the One M9.

Battery wise I’m disappointed, HTC continually perform badly in this area and they really need to pick their socks up. This is quickly shooting up the list of considerations for users when purchasing a new phone as they are using their devices more and more in their daily lives. With moderate use it didn’t last the whole day, which is the benchmark in my opinion.

The phone is packing Android Marshmallow and HTC has added its own look and feel to the OS which makes it feel more like a Nexus (Google) than an HTC. The screen is what you’d probably expect on a phone with this price point. It’s a 5-inch AMOLED display, reportedly supplied by Samsung. It’s not QHD resolution but is still incredibly sharp and won’t leave users feeling hard done by.

A bit like Blackberry, HTC are in desperate need of a win in the smartphone market. Their decision to provide a lower spec phone to Europe but also charge more money for it confuses me, added to the fact it’s a middle of the road phone leaves me feeling a little underwhelmed. For the money I think you can do better elsewhere.

 

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine