Brenton Hilaire is not one to settle for mediocrity. Recently promoted to agency manager at a major insurance firm in Dominica, he’s already set his eyes on his next ambition: to become an ACCA-certified accountant. In his spare time, he also serves as president of the Nature Isle Toastmasters Club, a position which requires him to remain in constant contact with his colleagues.
A long-time customer of BlackBerry, Brenton is a fan of technology and gaming, with an intense interest in the latest gadgets and devices. He’s been a BlackBerry user for 10 years, starting with the Torch, and has purchased every BlackBerry device since – including the PRIV, which has proved invaluable in both a personal and professional context.
I had the chance to sit down and have a chat with Brenton about his thoughts on BlackBerry and his experience with the PRIV – here’s what he had to say.
Brenton isn’t the only one who’s taken with PRIV. He shares his passion with this Irish tech blogger and entrepreneur, these fashion moguls, this reality TV host, this entrepreneurial lawyer, this international sales executive, this aerospace engineer, this sports editor, this TV Chef, this consulting firm CEO, this best-selling author and pastor, and this teenaged tech CEO.
Nick: When did you first decide to buy a PRIV?
Brenton: I previously had the Passport, which I was in love with. I was amazed by that phone, and I still consider it one of my best. When PRIV came out, I initially had my doubts about it, because I can’t stand Android. But I decided that I’d give the device a chance, because it was BlackBerry – I believe in the company and their vision.
If they went with Android, they must have had a good reason for it.
Nick: And what did you think once you purchased it?
Brenton: I’ve been using my PRIV for a few months now, and I’m quite satisfied with it. I still miss the screen size and keyboard of the Passport, but the PRIV’s both very fast and very reliable. BlackBerry’s done an excellent job with it, and it’s the quickest of their phones I’ve used to date – there’s no doubt about that.
Nick: You mentioned you’re not a fan of Android?
Brenton: I hate it. I find the layout isn’t user-friendly at all, and I’m not a fan of the interface. Initially, I was concerned that BlackBerry’s PRIV might suffer from the same issues.
What I noticed, though, was that they’ve made a bunch of small tweaks to the Android OS to give it a “BlackBerry” feeling, like swipe controls, Hub and BlackBerry Search. These tweaks have made Android a lot more likable for me; I can actually use it as opposed to the stock OS of other Android phones.
Nick: Aside from BlackBerry’s OS tweaks, what features of the PRIV really stand out to you?
Brenton: The feature that I would not be able to live without if I had to switch is the dropdown menu at the top of the screen. It’s a BlackBerry feature, but how it’s done on PRIV is different – you see all the icons up top, and when you swipe down it gives you a summary of what’s happening with each; from there, I can determine which notifications to give priority to. This helps me save a lot of time, since I know which items have priority rather than having to differentiate based on differently colored blinking lights.
In terms of typing, I rarely use the physical keyboard on the PRIV, but I love the onscreen keyboard – I use it 95% of the time, and I find it a lot more fluent than the physical.
Nick: How does your PRIV help you in a professional context?
Brenton: At present, my phone isn’t directly linked to my employer, as I just recently started here – they gave me a Samsung linked to my company’s email address. Since using the PRIV, I’m going to make a request for a transfer. I prefer the interface on my BlackBerry.
Most of my phone calls and contacts are done through my PRIV. It’s easier for me to move between different menus, and when I’m talking to people on the phone, I find it useful that I can also pull up quick emails from my personal account, which lets me keep correspondence straight between coworkers and colleagues from the Toastmasters Club. Everything on the device flows seamlessly, and that helps me a lot.
I find the way PRIV’s calendar is presented very effective, as well – you always see the events you’ve scheduled, and you’re forced to dismiss them rather than ignore them. Previous BlackBerry devices didn’t have such obvious reminders, and it really stands out for me in a positive way that PRIV does.
Finally, there’s an Android app I recently downloaded called CamScanner, which I find has really helped me in the field. In my profession, sometimes I need to copy the IDs of certain individuals or scan certain documents. CamScanner lets me do that with a level of quality very close to what you’d get from a copy machine, and it’s an app that wouldn’t be available to me on my Passport.
Nick: How do your peers feel about you using a PRIV?
Brenton: People who don’t know me assume I’m a professional. Everything is about Samsung and iPhones in Dominica – it’s really rare to see a BlackBerry here. I’ve converted a few people, though; when I had the Passport, I mentioned it to a colleague who purchased one and later told me it’s the best phone he’s ever used.
It’s difficult to have that conversation with a younger person, though, since they’re more interested in the applications they can download and the fun they can have with their phone rather than its value as a productivity tool. Still, I always speak to people about it. Whether or not they listen is another thing – I’ve actually had people ask me if I work for BlackBerry because I’m always promoting the brand and speaking about it to my friends.
Nick: Overall, how would you rate your PRIV?
Brenton: I’d give it a 9/10.
Want to know more about PRIV? Check out Jim Opfer’s objective look at the device, or learn why it’s Ryan Blundell’s “favorite nag.” And if you’re interested in picking up a PRIV for yourself, have a look at our availability blog, PRIV’s official product page and our how-to demo videos.