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So roughly two weeks into owning the Priv now, what do I think of it?

In short, it's a keeper.

Android has its fair share of annoyances, especially coming from BB10.  Really, once you've gotten used to how BB10 works and organizes things there really isn't much you'd ask for other than wider app compatibility.  But that was not to be had, and without it consumers wouldn't buy the phones, so there you go -- efficiency and intuitive design be damned.

So let's look at the annoyances first, and I'll identify those that are Android (and thus unlikely to ever go away completely, although they might be mitigated over time by BlackBerry) and those that are actual Priv problems (and thus subject to much-more-rapid mitigation though software updates.)

First and foremost is the picture password thing I mentioned earlier: It's incompatible with credential storage.  What this means to you is that if you need to load either a Private CA certificate (somewhat uncommon) or a machine certificate (quite common in the corporate environment for VPN access and similar) you cannot use Picture Password.  BlackBerry badly needs to fix this, particularly given that most people will not choose to use a high-quality (and pain in the ass) alphanumeric password when faced with this option - they will opt for a 4-digit PIN which is not secure (at all.)

Second, the phone does not permit SD card encryption.  This looks like an Android bug, but it's a relatively serious one because there are a number of enterprise environments where Exchange policies (used for email, calendar and similar) require everything on the device to be encrypted -- including external storage.  No encryption, no enrollment, which means that for those users an SD card cannot currently be used in the phone.  This needs immediate attention; Lollipop can support this but it's optional in the build.  There are, incidentally, very real problems with encrypting SD cards, not the least of which is that any glitch in the card in a FDE environment renders the entire device unrecoverable, but policies are what they are.  I personally prefer to run with the SD card not encrypted (so I can access it while removed on other devices) and choose not to store anything sensitive on it, but in the corporate world that relies on individual intelligence rather than policy -- and thus doesn't fly.

Next up is S/MIME.  You can use Ciphermail (from the Play Store) and it works, but there are two issues with this -- first, it's outside code (and of unknown provenance) and second, and probably more-importantly, to bypass the picture password problem you have to let it use its own credential store instead of the phone's internal one.  That adds (unacceptable) risk to the equation.  BlackBerry is the "secure communications company" so where is the built-in S/MIME support?

I've run into a few annoying bugs -- chief among them is that the (excellent, by the way) on-device speech recognition occasionally goes into a mode where it claims that it's not available in the present context.  The only way out of this is to reboot the device when it happens.  This looks to be an Android bug, but it's annoying, especially considering how well the on-device speech recognition functions.  This is a fairly-major enhancement over BB10, which required server assistance.

The Hub is interesting and I like it, but it needs a few things added and changed.  Chief among the annoyance factors is that the hub doesn't clear the system notification related to what you look at when you enter a category and act on it.  So, for instance, if you look at a Twitter feed in the Hub, the system notification for new Twitter posts is still present.  I find myself just clearing the system notifications "en-masse", which is fast and easy from the swipe-down shade, but the Hub should clear the related notification on its own.

Second, custom notifications for the Hub badly need to be added; this would centralize where all custom notifications can be set (e.g. LED colors, vibrate, etc).  This might be difficult to accomplish but it would be a huge win and I hope BlackBerry is working on it -- and if they are, it has to be universal (not just for email accounts) to maximize usefulness.  What would be an excellent enhancement would be an option for the Hub to pick up a notification and immediately clear it on the system level, then manage the LED, sound, vibration and such itself; that way you could have fully custom, centralized notification across every sort of account and feature that the Hub can "see."  This would be a very unique feature for BlackBerry.

There are reports on CrackBerry of problems with email syncing in the Hub.  I've had zero trouble with this or anything similar.  It just works, and really, really well -- which is a credit to BlackBerry as this is one of the areas where for (non-Gmail) email access Android is usually lacking.

There is an Android bug with the SD card that needs to be addressed; copying to it from something like the ES File Explorer will fail.  It appears that the root of the card is not recognized.  BlackBerry is aware of this and known to be working on it.

I remain quite annoyed by the music player.  I have a large collection on SD, and the included Google Play Music app just plain sucks.  Neutron is buggier than a roach motel (and I refuse to buy something that has bugs in the free trial version) and the other free alternatives aren't very good either.  The biggest problem is that the app has twice blown up my playlists (imported from my Passport), either refusing to recognize that the music is present or scrambling the order of the songs.  Here, again, BlackBerry could perform some "value add" by putting together something that works -- sorry Google, your sad version of Pandora (or Spotify) just doesn't cut it.

DTEK remains extremely useful.  The number of apps that simply refuse to close even when you attempt to do so is frightening -- and so is their data collection.  It appears that the most-common scheme is to grab your location every five minutes even when you're not using the app and you backed all the way out of it.  This is outrageous behavior and it's utterly pervasive.  Most apps can be forced-closed from DTEK (even if backing out of them or Xing them from the task manager doesn't stop them) and they'll cease that until you use them again, but not all.  Nonetheless no app should be doing this as a matter of course and it's utterly outrageous that huge numbers of "useful" apps (like WalMart's) do.  There ought to be a widespread consumer revolt or even legal action against this sort of thing as there is no way for you to know or control who is getting that location data after it's collected and what it is being used for.

Battery life remains pretty impressive.  I'm getting between 6 and 7 hours of screen-on time, which is very good for an OLED display.  Quick Charge works extremely well; if you can find 20 minutes with a plug in the event you manage to drain the battery you're good.

I utterly love the screen -- both resolution and responsiveness.  Build quality continues to impress me and the phone is extremely comfortable in the hand, and while in use.  The curved screen adds materially to this and the "grip" of the phone while in your hand; BlackBerry has really hit it out of the park in that regard.  RF performance is solid, exceeding my Passport, which I have run side-by-side for quite some time now not only locally but also on a middling-length (~700 mile) road trip.

As noted above, contact, calendar and email sync has been flawless.  I run my own Exchange style server to handle contacts, calendars, tasks and of course email, and have had zero trouble with any of it on the Priv.

The keyboard is interesting.  I find myself using it not only as a keyboard but also as a trackpad.  Sliding it open when there's an input field that would otherwise obscure a third of the screen (for the virtual keyboard) instantly restores the full view of the page you're looking at, and this is extremely useful when trying to fill in a form or similar.  I'm still adapting to the difference in the keyboard from my Passport, with the biggest differences being the symbols and numerics -- the Passport does not have an "Alt" key at all.

The front speaker won't win any awards but it's adequate.  On the other hand audio quality from the DAC whether to headphones or otherwise is simply outstanding.

Performance overall remains impressive; I've had no problems with lag or other misbehavior in that regard.  Just like a flagship device should be.

The Priv is not an inexpensive device by any means but it acquits itself well in essentially all respects.

I'm keeping it and if you're in the market for a flagship-class device running Android the Priv is definitely worthy of your consideration.

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While Digital River is an outright disaster, and BlackBerry should have fired those clowns long ago (Really folks? This is not rocket science in 2015 and lying to customers is never acceptable) Amazon had stock yesterday (gone now!) and has a Priv coming to me today.

I will be posting a "first thoughts" on the phone's "out of the box" experience within a few hours of receipt, and then at least one full review after a week or so of use.

PS: BlackBerry, just get rid of Digital River and use Amazon for fulfillment.  They may be a ridiculously overvalued stock but as a company they get the job done; never conflate the two, just as you shouldn't conflate this new BlackBerry phone with a stock that has been in the tank for a number of years.

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Blackberry has launched the Priv, an Android handset.  It went into limited release on the 6th and there was limited stock at AT&T stores, most of which disappeared within minutes (yes, Mildred, it is selling well from all initial indications.)

However, the company also announced and opened pre-orders for factory units on October 23rd.  A fair number of people ordered them this way for direct shipment, myself included, with shipments stated to begin on 6 November -- the same day you could buy it in an AT&T store.  So far, so good.

But here BlackBerry stuck a shotgun in its own mouth and blew its brains out in terms of doing severe and perhaps even irreparable damage to its brand among the most loyal of its customers.

See, you don't go ordering something this way "on the come", unable to look at and hold it first as you can in a physical store, with a device class that a company has never made before unless you're pretty confident in the brand.

These are people who you really need to treat well.

Those who have been reading The Ticker for any length of time know that I really, really like what BlackBerry did with BB10.  I purchased a Z10 on launch day from T-Mobile (at full retail) and subsequently bought a second one and a Z30 (for my kid) from ShopBlackBerry, and a Passport (from Amazon) -- the latter of which is my phone at the present time.  There have been a number of articles on the phones posted here over the years, all positive.  Given this history I was quite confident I'd like the Priv, and ordered one direct -- again, from ShopBlackBerry.

BlackBerry has contracted out their fulfillment to Digital River.  They've been doing that for a long time; Digital River isn't exactly a small outfit, but in this case there's a big problem: They're lying to people and acting in a generally-outrageous manner.

First, the company immediately hit anyone's credit card that paid through PayPal, even though they were in no position to ship.

This is a direct violation of card-not-present transaction rules on merchant accounts for physical goods.

PayPal does properly handle this provided the merchant codes the transaction correctly; I've had a PayPal merchant account for a long time and have IPN (their "interface") code that has been used here at The Market Ticker in the past.  Further, I use PayPal all the time as a means of not handing my credit card number out willy-nilly to merchants all over the net, and invariably I do not get charged until goods move.  Except this time.

Digital River did not so-code the transactions and immediately took settled funds on orders they couldn't ship, including from me.

Second, the company is not shipping orders in the order received.  My order was placed literal minutes after it was possible to do so, yet there are people who ordered days later but have tracking numbers and are expecting product today.  I have no tracking information despite repeated calls to their customer disservice department, and since they are allegedly shipping via FedEx I also have the ability to track anything that is coming to me via FedEx through their Delivery Manager.

There is nothing in the pipe headed toward me at this point in time.

Third, Digital River has three times told me something that is provably not true -- first by claiming me that they shipped my order (when they clearly have not), second by trying to excuse the lack of a tracking number on "slow" updates from their shipping system (also not true; FedEx's delivery manager will notify you of a label being printed even if they don't have the packet yet) and third, when pressed, they claim that "delivery" (via "Express", in this case FedEx) may take up to 14 days!  This is what Delivery Manager shows right now (yes, I blacked out my address and tracking number; that's a previous shipment that I have not bothered to clear.)

Look, I understand stock-outs and demand exceeding supply.  But it is inexcusable to not fill pre-orders in sequence, it is inexcusable and probably either a violation of your merchant agreement, the law or both to bill for products you haven't shipped yet and finally there is never, ever an excuse to lie to a customer.

I've heard of these sorts of problems with Digital River before but I have ordered two previous BlackBerry phones through them without a problem -- both arrived as expected and with tracking numbers properly spit back to me when they were shipped.

BlackBerry's (yes, it's their hit on this; they contracted with Digital River and they control that relationship) current behavior is utterly inexcusable.  BlackBerry Corporate needs to put a boot on the neck of these people, get the devices out and provide an honest status to customers who had their money taken on the 23rd of October and have exactly zero in terms of accurate communication on when their order will be in their hands.

Finally, to the extent that Digital River is shipping out-of-order that needs to be stopped immediately so those of us who were first in line have our orders fulfilled in order.

I'm looking forward to giving you a full, complete and honest review on the BlackBerry Priv -- once I have one and can form a cogent opinion of it in real-world use.  It may well be the best Android device I've ever used, and the most-secure -- that is what I'm expecting.

In keeping with my policy around here, however, I'm not going to ignore customer service issues that have a material, say much less severe impact, on customer satisfaction.

This series of events unfortunately (and wildly) exceeds that threshold.

Some of us have lives and are not always home -- we can plan around a known delivery date but having no idea if or when the unit will ship makes that planning impossible.

Having no idea when this device is going to ship, along with charging people for goods prior to being able to fulfill the order is unacceptable.

Update: I just had a rep from DR on the phone who admitted they are shipping orders randomly!  WHAT?!

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The AT&T stores I've checked, and others are reporting, have sold all of their stock or close to it on the first day.

ShopBlackBerry is now stating for new orders that you probably won't get it until toward the end of the month; this means they burned through at least their first two orders in terms of stock, and maybe more (the second group got November 9th ship estimates.)

The stock is up over 5%, and it appears justified given early anecdotal sales reports.

We'll see..... mine is allegedly on the way although I do not yet have a tracking number.

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