A new product rendering of the unannounced BlackBerry Venice is lending credence to rumors that the company will turn to Android for its next smartphone.
The image, posted on Twitter by Evan “evleaks” Blass, shows a BlackBerry phone with an Android interface, complete with Google apps such as Drive, Maps, and Chrome. The image also appears to show a display that curves around the edges, similar to the one on Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge. (Rumors have also suggested a slide-out physical keyboard, though this doesn’t seem to appear in Blass’ image.)
Blass has a fairly strong track record with leaking images of unreleased phones, which lends validity to the notion of BlackBerry phones running Android. BlackBerry has already partnered with Samsung to release a pricey Android tablet for government use in Germany, and last month, Reuters reported that BlackBerry was building an Android phone with a slide-out physical keyboard, citing unnamed sources.
Other reports, including one from BlackBerry enthusiast site N4BB, refer to the phone by the codename BlackBerry Venice. Rumored specs include a 5.4-inch display with 2560-by-1440 resolution, a 1.8 GHz Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor, 3 GB of RAM, an 18-megapixel rear camera, and a 5-megapixel front camera.
Assuming Venice is real, reports suggest that it’ll launch in November. BlackBerry itself briefly teased a phone with a slide-out keyboard at Mobile World Congress in March, but that device appeared to be running the BlackBerry 10 operating system. It’s unclear whether Venice will solely run Android, or ship alongside a BlackBerry 10 version.
Why this matters: BlackBerry’s smartphone sales have been nosediving for years, as BlackBerry 10 have failed to make an impact, and attempts to emulate Android apps on BlackBerry phones have never worked particularly well. Going with a proper Android phone might be a way to breathe some life into BlackBerry hardware sales, while helping establish the enterprise software and services that the company hopes will make up a bigger slice of its revenue.