BlackBerry PRIV AMA Compilation — Learn More About The PRIV!

BlackBerry PRIV AMA Compilation — Learn More About The PRIV!

This year has seen one of Blackberry’s best products in recent memory, as it marked the release of the BlackBerry Priv — a phone that tried to merge BlackBerry’s strong point of security and enterprise adoption with the flexibility and popularity of Android.

Banking on the hype and good reception of the Priv, members of Blackberry’s team took to Reddit to answer questions of fans and other enthusiasts. The AMA has had almost 600 comments so far, so we’ve compiled the questions that were answered by the team.

Hi Reddit!

r/Android has provided a lot of great feedback since PRIV launched so we wanted to connect with this community and answer some questions you might have about our latest smartphone!

Taking part today between 2pm and 3pm EST are:

  • Alex Manea, BlackBerry Security Director
  • Michael Clewley, Director of Software
  • Ty Williams, Community Content Manager

We know a lot of you are eager to get PRIV so for any questions about availability in your country please review this post which is updated frequently!

The three of us look forward to answering any questions you have, so long as they won’t get us fired so let’s begin 😉

That’s a wrap! We tried our best to answer as many questions as possible and look forward to connecting with this community more in the future. To stay updated on PRIV, bookmark the Inside BlackBerry blog and if you need PRIV support, visit


I switched from BlackBerry to Android about two years ago. Can you tell me why this phone should bring me back?
→ PRIV is about a choice of personal privacy, productivity and input. The best in class virtual keyboard combined with the touched enabled physical keyboard lead the way with input. BlackBerry has always been known for communication and productivity and that continues with PRIV as we bring Hub and the BlackBerry apps to the Android ecosystem. ~Michael

Can I get an explanation of how the Priv is more secure than other smartphones in layman’s terms?
→ PRIV has keys built into the hardware that ensure the security of the whole platform. See this post for more details ~Alex

Our organization said the priv has failed their security test due to the SD card not being able to be encrypted to an acceptable level. Is this currently being addressed in an upcoming update?
→ We will have improved support for the policy with an update to BlackBerry Services coming in Google Play on December 14th. ~Michael

My unlocked Priv doesn’t let me encrypt my SD card at all…and it doesn’t appear to be encrypted by default either. Please fix this.

Is true that phones running Android M are inherently more secure than PRIV, which currently runs Android L?
→ No, PRIV has many security features that aren’t available on other Android devices. See this post for more for details. ~Alex

When Priv was designed, was it meant to have Marshmallow? What I mean is, was it built with Marshmallow in mind. Thinking about features like DTEK and other things that seem ahead of its time.

→ Thankfully as being an Android partner we got details of the Marshmallow roadmap ahead of time and we were able to play for what was coming and the direction we were going towards. ~Michael

Is there an ETA as to when we can expect to receive the Marshmallow update?
→ We are actively working on this release of Android, we need to make sure we port all of the security parts that we’ve baked into PRIV. We’ll have an update on when you can get your hands on it shortly. ~Michael

Can you tell us a bit about the software road map? What can we expect? Loving the Priv!
→ Not going to deep into software roadmap just yet but just like the blog post we put up on December 1st we’ll keep communicating as we get closer to updates! ~Michael

Please don’t stop providing OS updates prematurely. This is not an inexpensive device, and having an unsupported OS would defeat any security advantage it might have.

A blog post said that only carriers that agreed to the monthly updates would receive them. How can we tell if a carrier gets these, and can we apply them manually if they don’t participate? I’m thinking mainly AT&T and Verizon.
→ You’ll need to ask your carrier about their specific patch cycle. We have the ability to directly push critical security patches to all devices and will use it to protect our customers. ~Alex

What kind of percentage is the carrier participation for allowing BlackBerry to push the critical security updates directly?
→ We have the ability to push critical security updates to 100% of PRIV devices. For more detail check out this post ~Alex

What updates will be provided in the HUB app?
→ Given that Hub can be updated via Google Play we plan to do this frequently and we’ll share information on the updates as we get closer just like we have done for the updates coming on December 14th.
If you haven’t already, bookmark the Inside BlackBerry[1] to stay informed ~Michael

Will there be updates to the hub to support 3rd party apps?
→ We’re working to add more integrated notification content into the BlackBerry Hub as quickly as possible. ~Michael

Hello guys, Thanks for this AMA, I’m a proud owner of a Priv since day 1 (Loving it!) and let me say it was really nice to hear about the december update, to know we would be having great support and updates over time is something rather rare from Android vendors. As a Canadian I couldn’t be more proud of the move you guys made and I’m sure it will put Blackberry back on track to where it was once on the mobile phone market.
Now here’s question.: Is Hub support for Google Hangouts currently in the works or planned?

→ We are constantly monitoring customer requests for additional social networking and messaging integration’s into the BlackBerry Hub. We need to work with partners before we can definitively say whether we will be including any specific applications, but this is certainly one we’re looking to integrate for a future release ~Michael

Greetings! My question is this:
The implementation of SMS service into Priv is very surprising to me. The use of Messenger as a separate app is rather clunky and inefficient. I do not mean to offend, but I am surprised that you did not develop a specific SMS app or better SMS integrated into the Hub app.
Are there any plans for this? There are numerous problems with the use of Messenger a separate app, and its integration is far from fluid.
A proper BlackBerry SMS app with designed Hub integration, o or better yet, integration of SMS/MMS into the Hub, would be ideal.
Is this on the roadmap? Development of an SMS app for Android is not the most complex thing, as countless developers do it every day. I would STRONGLY urge you to reconsider continued use of Messenger. Thank you.

→ With respect to Hub integration, a big part of what we’re trying to do is push the user into the richest possible viewer. We’ll never build a better Facebook experience than Facebook themselves. We’ll never build a better WhatsApp experience than WhatsApp, etc., etc..
So we aim to push you into the richest possible experience which is typically hosted by that specific application. This also means that as those apps release new features, users get access to them faster via their integration to the Hub. ~Michael


What limitations are in place that result in BlackBerry applications behaving differently on PRIV when compared to BlackBerry 10?
Hub – I’m missing things like the pinch to filter feature and being able to view social media notifications without actually opening the respective apps.
BBM – BlackBerry 10 allows me to copy any message within an existing chat, but my PRIV BBM chat will not allow the copying of any message containing a URL or phone number.

→ In some cases it’s purely time and resources to get the features built, tested, and ready for release quality (Pinch filters). In other cases we lack the API support from partners to be able to integrate directly inside the Hub (Facebook). ~Michael

I hope they add pinch-to-filter in the hub. I love that feature on BB10.
→ Me too!! When PRIV launched I captured feedback coming into our forums and shared with the team who is looking to bring this feature to PRIV ASAP 🙂 ~Ty

Will the Hub on Android ever get the ability to handle text messaging by itself as well, or was this decided against? If so, why?
→ It’s something we’re evaluating for the future, but requires a significant amount of investment to make it work, and make it work well. When we evaluated this for the initial release we saw that:
1) Android already had a rich ecosystem of 3rd party text messaging apps that users could leverage and choose from.
2) There was little space for BlackBerry to truly differentiate here from any of the other competitors.
3) We simply did not have the resourcing to make it happen along with all the other features we needed to build. ~Michael
There’s no need to be different; there’s no need to be the absolute best client. The need is to make the hub a worthwhile application by actually allowing it to action multiple types of communications without jumping in and out of apps. It’s frustrating that, regardless of any marketing talk, this isn’t seen as important.

If we’re unable to use Android for Work on BES12, how can we support the Priv for email via ActiveSync? Can we support the Priv on another MDM, such as MobileIron?
→ BlackBerry Hub support ActiveSync and can be configured via Android for Work policies with any MDM that supports AfW. Customers can also choose to configure their ActiveSync accounts directly in the Hub. ~Michael

Does the Android Hub have smart filing of email messages? The BB10 hub learns which folder I normally file certain emails to and when I click the file icon it automatically puts it into that folder.
→ Why yes it does! It learns from the previously replies and suggests what folder you may want to drop it into ~Michael

Hi! Huge blackberry fan here since the Z10. I’ve got a mixed bag of questions for you all.

  1. When will the Priv be available for Verizon?
  2. Consumer reviews of the Priv have generally been good but there have been some reported issues on smaller subs/forums. There have been some build issues reported. These include mixed battery life, a “clicking” sound and some screen flex. What are the sources of these problems and what will you do to improve the hardware, software, or manufacturing process to minimize these them?
  3. Will the hub eventually turn into what it was on BB10? Responding through the hub was one of its best features. Will the hub on android transition into that or do you think opening each app is more intuitive for Android users?
  4. If this gets over 500 upvotes will Chen send me a Priv for Christmas?

→ With the software update we have released and will start to roll out to carriers December 7th, we have addressed many of the top software complaints from launch of the PRIV.
With the focus on privacy, security and physical keyboard PRIV is different than other Android products and we are still priced under an iPhone. Plenty of customers are giving us great feedback.
See these buyer reviewers at AT&T, Amazon, Carphone Warehouse, Bell
With regards to the HUB we are always reviewing and adding improvements. Check Google Play for updates as they are rolled out. ~Michael
You didn’t answer any of the questions


What do you think of the feedback so far, from reviewers? Such as lacking build quality, camera problems and the plethora of software issues.
How do you justify the high price tag, since you’re now putting it competition with top end hardware phones such as the GS6, iPhone 6s, etc.

→ With the software update we have released and will start to roll out to carriers December 7th, we have addressed many of the top software complaints from launch of the PRIV.
With the focus on privacy, security and physical keyboard PRIV is different than other Android products and we are still priced under an iPhone. Plenty of customers are giving us great feedback.
See these buyer reviewers at AT&T, Amazon, Carphone Warehouse, Bell ~Michael
But as Alex said there’s no guarantee we’ll get the December 7 update if bought through a carrier since it’s not a critical security fix. So some of us may be stuck on the original release if we can’t load it manually.
→ We are working with our carrier partners to ensure they are providing updates to users quickly. This update was a special case as it contained security patches plus other goodness. In the future when we do security patches it will be even faster. ~Michael

Every Android company makes that promise, and not one of them follows through.

Why did you folks go with a 2mp front camera?
→ As PRIV is a slider form factor we wanted to make sure that we could keep the phone thin and a larger MP would not fit in with the requirements at the time. ~Michael

Is there a known issue with overheating on the Priv? Also is there a known issue with bluetooth connectivity?
→ Our latest software update is rolling out now and will address a number of items within the OS. If the update does not resolve your issue please contact us via our support number under the troubleshooting section ~Ty

Will you be porting over the BlackBerry file manager?
→ This is an area where BlackBerry doesn’t necessarily add value and with the extensive ecosystem of Google Play and choice of many different file managers we didn’t feel that we needed to add one right away. Something we are always open about though. ~Michael

Hey folks! Glad I snuck in at the right time. Does the PRIV support APT-X (bluetooth codec) or is it simply SBC? The latest 10 series of BB products had it but no mention for the PRIV.
→ Apt-X is on the roadmap 🙂 ~Ty

Hi team ! You forgot one on the best hub feature : The Attach file filter ! May we hope this feature soon ?
→ Rest assured, we haven’t forgotten about the attachment view feature we introduced in BlackBerry10! This is one of many features we love in BlackBerry10 and want to bring to our Android Hub as quickly as possible. ~Michael

How come you decided not to integrate with BES 12 directly but instead are going to a product like google for work. Wouldn’t BES Admins enjoy that integration more?
→ PRIV integrates directly with BES12 out of the box. It support Android for Work and Secure Work Space for work/personal separation and can leverage the BlackBerry Infrastructure or go directly over VPN ~Alex

Hey there, a couple questions! Is there any hope of PGP Encryption in the Hub mail? It was sort of a feature in Blackberry 10 and sort of a necessity for me for my emails. As of right now I use the Hub to view emails, but if I have to send I have to use another app.
The media keys, can we please bind them? I want to be able to skip tracks and play and pause instead of just mute and volume. As well I want to be able to take photos with the mute key in the camera!
I know this is a long shot, but is there any thoughts of porting Ubuntu Touch to the PRIV? Damn I’d kill for a qwerty with a good Linux experience.

→ 1, we are focused on S\MIME first, and 2, you can use the volume up and down keys, as well as the space bar on the PKB ~Michael

When will Blend be available for the Priv?
→ We are monitoring the Blend uptake on BlackBerry10 before deciding if we are bringing this forward to PRIV ~Michael

Will you be available on more than one carrier in Canada?
→ We are available via FIVE carriers in Canada today, including Rogers, Bell, SaskTel, TELUS and WIND. See this this post for details. ~Ty

What advantages is there by getting a Priv direct from Blackberry vs the ATT store (I can get it at contract pricing there). I’m sure quicker updates and maybe easier warranty–but will all the infamous bloatware be minimized as well?
→ Yes, there are no carrier pre-installed apps on phones purchased from ShopBlackBerry. The biggest advantage though is that ShopBlackBerry phones are [carrier] unlocked, making it easy for you to take it to the carrier of your choice, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars over 2 years. For more detail check out this post ~Ty

No reddit post is complete without cat pics, so here is one from the AMA:

Will the Priv hit Verizon by Christmas? Because oh god I need dis.tumblr_m27hmwHWUb1r8j2a3o1_500
Also, I want to just say thank you for being the last bastion for us physical keyboard warriors. You da real MVPs.

→ You ain’t the only one, says The Verge 🙂 ~Ty

What device are you using to respond to these questions?
→ Pretty much every device you can imagine. I’m on my PRIV, but it feels like we have half the company working on this. 🙂 ~Alex

What (besides the keyboard) is the feature that you are most proud of on the Priv?

  • Alex > Apps, apps, and more apps 🙂
  • Michael > Camera tied with Hub
  • Ty > A giant beautiful display
  • Daniel > The amazing camera!

Ty, what does a “Community Content Manager” do?
→ Lots of fun stuff such as this AMA 🙂 You can catch me in our forums, on the Help Blogand helping with our social support activities 🙂 ~Ty

Is there a Priv 2 in store? I’d really like a fingerprint scanner, but that’s one thing you can’t rely on a software update for.
→ We’re always looking at cool security technologies to add to our products 😉 ~Alex

The BlackBerry PRIV AMA answered a fair few questions, but as with every other AMA, a lot of them went unanswered, naturally or otherwise. We still caught a glimpse of some behind the scenes in the whole Android on BB affair, and as such, the AMA was a success.

What are your thoughts on the BlackBerry AMA? Let us know in the comments below!

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About author

Aamir Siddiqui
Aamir Siddiqui

I am a tech journalist with XDA since 2015, while being a qualified business-litigation lawyer with experience in the field. A low-end smartphone purchase in 2011 brought me to the forums, and it's been a journey filled with custom ROMs ever since. When not fully dipped in smartphone news, I love traveling to places just to capture pictures of the sun setting. You can reach out to me at [email protected]