BlackBerry has been coy about its mobile plans as of late, but there's little doubt the company is getting ready to give Android a shot with the Venice. This portrait slider has been leaking all over the place, and now we're getting our best look at the device yet with a 4-minute hands-on video courtesy of a Canadian phone retailer called Baka Mobile.
The upcoming, unnamed BlackBerry slider phone running Android has leaked almost completely at this point. The short version: it's an Android phone with some BlackBerry apps, services, and a freaking slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Because BlackBerry.
BlackBerry's keyboards were held in the highest esteem by "productivity-oriented" mobile users for years because of the comparative slowness of T9 and the general lack of software keyboards until the iPhone arrived on the scene. Even then, touchscreen keyboards had plenty of evolving left to do - support for advanced multitouch, swiping, auto-completion of words, and increasing overall speed and responsiveness.
A small and vocal element of the Android community has been begging for a decent QWERTY phone ever since the original Motorola DROID was retired, and a huge and vocal part of BlackBerry's userbase has been clamoring for the company to switch to Android OS before it goes the ignominious way of Palm and Nokia. So the BlackBerry Venice, which has been leaked six ways from Sunday, is a welcome if late addition to the struggling company's lineup. The latest leak shows off what looks like a production-ready phone in sharp photos from every angle. It's a looker.
The photos popped up on a Vietnamese website, Tinhte.vn.
For having technically retired, @evleaks still leaks a lot of stuff. Case in point, he's just posted a few more promo pics of the BlackBerry Venice, an Android-powered phone from the once-dominant Canadian smartphone maker. We've also got a supposed release window too—November on all major U.S. carriers.
On July 7th, the domains AndroidSecured.com and AndroidSecured.net were registered to BlackBerry Limited, the firm formerly known as Research In Motion (RIM) that presides over the one-time dominant smartphone platform. Below is a screenshot of one of the registration records with the area of interest highlighted.
It's no secret that BlackBerry has seen better days. One of their more-publicized efforts to revitalize interest in the OS has been the addition of compatibility with Android apps and, more recently, loading the Amazon Appstore on the newest OS versions. The general direction of BlackBerry has been fairly unclear for a while now, as they have worked on supporting existing devices and have steadfastly released new ones on a regular basis in spite of meager sales.
When the BBM app came out a few years ago, it was not very attractive. It continued to be unattractive right up to this very day, but now the material design update has rolled out to the Play Store. Suddenly, it looks quite nice.
BlackBerry has slowly but surely realized that their best bet for continued existence is to somehow bridge the app compatibility gap that Android and iOS boast in comparison to their platform. The route they have taken is adding the ability to natively run Android apps within the BlackBerry OS, which quite honestly is a good idea. The next step is getting those apps to users. For American users, that starts today, as a new OS update will bring the Amazon Appstore along with it.
The update, to version 10.3.2, is on its way to BlackBerry Classic users on Verizon and T-Mobile as well as the Z10 and Q10 on AT&T.
BlackBerry once dominated smartphone sales in the days before regular people had any interest in them. Then the iPhone happened, and then Android, and then BlackBerry (previously RIM) got stubborn and refused to admit the world was changing. With just a sliver of market share left, the company is now rumored to be developing an Android phone with a slide-out keyboard for release this fall.
BlackBerry will not be ignored, guys. While you're off gawking at the new Samsung and HTC phones, BlackBerry is slaving away to roll out a new version of BBM for Android. How about a little appreciation, huh? The update, which is expected tomorrow (3/2), includes the promised Android Wear support and a few other interesting features.