John Chen, Blackberry’s executive chairman and CEO, confirmed the earlier rumors.
“Today, I am confirming our plans to launch Priv, an Android device named after BlackBerry’s heritage and core mission of protecting our customers’ privacy,” he said. “Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform.”
The Blackberry Android Device, Priv, has been leaking all over the Internet, where it was formerly known as the “BlackBerry Venice.” The device has Blackberry’s famous hardware keyboard, which slides out vertically from the bottom of the device. Leaked images, mostly from Evan Blass, AKA EVleaks, shows a device that runs a mostly stock flavor of Android with the Google Play Store and associated Google Apps. Blackberry is, of course, packing in a few apps and customizations of its own.
The Blackberry fans over at CrackBerry have been tracking the device, and that site lists the rumored specs as a 5.4- or 5.6-inch 1440p display, Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, an 18MP rear camera, and 5MP front camera.
The device has been spotted in the wild a few times where it’s been running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The best view of it has been a video from Baka Mobile, and the device seems to be bringing a lot of Blackberry goodies to Android. The video showed an SD card slot, a dedicated hardware camera button, a smart action key, and scrolling list via keyboard swiping.
Blackberry has been slowly building up a suite of Android apps. You can already get Blackberry’s IM client, BBM, and its enterprise security app, BES12, along with work space separation, a 2FA app, and many other utilities.
Android OEMs have been in a race to the bottom, cutting costs everywhere they can and axing features like SD card slots, hardware keyboards, camera buttons, and everything else. Blackberry obviously isn’t falling in with the current Android OEM groupthink, and that makes the Priv one of the more exciting devices to come along in some time. We’re excited about a Blackberry device. What year is it?