BlackBerry has confirmed that the upcoming BlackBerry Priv will be an Android-powered smartphone with a slide-out keyboard.
In the company’s quarterly earning statement, BlackBerry describes the Priv as a flagship device “bringing together the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem” of Android.
The phone will support BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12 and feature enterprise-class security features. BlackBerry says the Priv should be available before the end of 2015.
While BlackBerry is getting ready to offer smartphones running Google’s Android operating system, the company isn’t giving up on BlackBerry OS. A new version called BlackBerry 10.3.3 is due out in March, 2016 and it’ll feature “security and privacy enhancements.”
If the leaks are accurate, the phone will likely have a 5.4 inch display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor, and an 18MP rear camera. It has a physical keyboard that slides out from behind the display, and runs a version of Android that’s been customized to incorporate BlackBerry Messenger, Hub, and other services. But it also supports Google Mobile Services including the Google Play Store.
While other recent BlackBerry phones can run some Android apps, you need to download them from the Amazon Appstore or sideload them, because there’s no support for the Play Store or other official Google apps such as Google Maps, Gmail, or Chrome.
Update: BlackBerry CEO John Chen wrote an editorial for CNBC explaining a bit of the company’s reasoning behind the launch of an Android phone.