LAS VEGAS - BlackBerry's Android-based Priv handset was only available on AT&T at launch, but the device is now coming to all three other Big Four U.S. carriers soon. BlackBerry CEO John Chen announced here at CES 2016 that Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon are on board to start selling the Priv to their customers, although the exact date and price are not known yet.
Right now, the Priv is available via BlackBerry for $699, or $24 a month on AT&T's Next equipment installment payment plan. Chen said he is leaving it to the carriers to make their individual announcements about the Priv's pricing and availability, quipping that T-Mobile CEO John Legere is likely to want to make an announcement in his own way. In fact, shortly after the news was announced, Legere tweeted that the Priv will be available on T-Mobile starting Jan. 26.
The BlackBerry Priv, released in the second half of 2015, is the first Android-based BlackBerry device, and features a slide-out Qwerty keyboard that's supposed to improve your typing experience. In our review, we loved the Priv's attractive design, on-screen keyboard and useful productivity apps.
As with other BlackBerry devices, the Priv also comes with strong security features, letting you monitor how apps are using your personal information in great detail. Even though it runs the less-secure Android ecosystem, BlackBerry continues to ensure that users' data remains as protected as before.
Chen recently said at a news conference that he is frequently asked about his confidence in BlackBerry's devices, and said, "I'll stay in the device business as long as I can make money."
Whether this means BlackBerry could be releasing a new handset in the future is not clear, but the carrier vote of confidence is a promising sign for the company.
BlackBerry also unveiled a new software platform for Internet of Things, as well as a partnership with digital health and wellness engagement platform Sharecare. The latter allows Sharecare to integrate BlackBerry Messaging and VOIP communication capabilities into its app, as well as secure the medical and personal data shared by its users.