The first BlackBerry mobile device to be powered completely by Android has been rated “on par” with the iPhone 6S.

The PRIV, launched in the UAE on December 23, 2015, places an emphasis on user privacy, with an application that notifies a person how secure their phone is.

BlackBerry’s Product Management Director in the Middle East, Mike Mefleh, said that software helps the user modify their security settings.

For instance, users can control whether their location or contacts can be accessed by the apps on their phone.

Mefleh said: “If you look in the market, mobile phones are a risk, but BlackBerry is capitalising on this.

If you look at the next step for BlackBerry, we are looking to ensure we enhance the productivity, performance and privacy of the product. The PRIV has been rated on par with the iPhone 6S.

PRIV is the next big thing for BlackBerry. The market is a sea of touch smartphones and there’s little differentiation. PRIV is 100 per cent Android, so it will give access to the full ecosystem and Google App Store.

“The privacy and security has been designed from the bottom and up, from the hardware to the operating system and applications. When BlackBerry designed this, they had the security in mind, so all your data and all your information is protected.”

In order to put an emphasis on privacy, BlackBerry launched the safety app Dtek, which can help users fight scammers trying to tap into sensitive data – such as bank information.

“We are targeting the smartphone users that value the Android ecosystem, privacy and the high-tier Blackberry users. We are also targeting Android users who have enjoyed the operating system of Android but did not have the right tools of privacy and productivity,” Mefleh said.

The PRIV is selling for 2,899 AED.

BlackBerry has had stiff competition over the years, with Apple and Samsung leading the UAE mobile phone market.

The former Blackberry Middle East Managing Director, Nick Horton, had claimed in 2013 that the UAE market for the mobile firm “remains strong”.