With devices based on the BlackBerry 10 operating system languishing compared to industry stalwarts running iOS and Android (the company sold just 800,000 smartphones in the previous quarter), BlackBerry needs a backup plan to ensure its survival in the cutthroat smartphone market. As we’ve been reporting for months, BlackBerry is shacking up with Google to deliver an all-new, premium flagship smartphone that runs Android.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen has now confirmed the device and its name: Priv. “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,” said Chen. “Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform.”
The Priv, which was developed under the codename Venice, will reportedly come equipped with a hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM, and a 5.4-inch QHD display. Its most prominent feature, however, is a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, which is something that has been sorely lacking in the Android smartphone space. Other features include an 18MP rear camera with optical image stabilization, dual LED flash, 5MP front-facing camera, front-mounted speakers, and a top-mounted microSD slot.
BlackBerry says that the Priv will be available this year, and that lines up with commentary from Evan Blass, who stated that the smartphone will launch on the “Big Four” U.S. wireless carriers in November.
Now don’t think that BlackBerry is abandoning BlackBerry OS now that it has an Android flagship waiting in the wings. Even though the market has already spoken with regards to how it feels about the operating system. BlackBerry says that it still has plans to keep it afloat.
“While the new device will provide a choice in OS to new and existing customers, the company remains committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which enables industry-leading security and productivity benefits,” said BlackBerry. “Second, the company will continue to develop and enhance the BlackBerry 10 operating system and is confirming plans to release platform updates focused on security and privacy enhancements, with version 10.3.3 scheduled to be available in March 2016.”