Meet BlackBerry’s top-secret Android device

September 18, 2015, 8:25 PM UTC
BlackBerry's Android-powered device.
Image courtesy Baka Mobile

On Friday, Bell Mobility dealer Baka Mobile published a video reportedly showing BlackBerry’s (BBRY) rumored Android phone.

The device will be BlackBerry’s first smartphone powered by an operating system other than its own proprietary software.

Previous rumors and leaks painted a semi-clear picture of what consumers could expect from the device. The new video, however, lays out exactly what we should expect if and/or when BlackBerry ever releases the device. As expected, the company’s popular slide-out keyboard, which is touch-enabled, is present. By adding touch capabilities to the keyboard, users can swipe a finger over keys to scroll through emails, or navigate between screens. The same technology can be currently found in the BlackBerry Passport.

The device also appears to be running Android 5.0 Lollipop, albeit with a few BlackBerry customizations.

Google Now, Android’s personal assistant software, is present and accessible from the device’s home button with a touch gesture. More interesting, however, is the fact that BlackBerry Hub and universal search can also be accessed with the same gesture. The addition of these two features shows BlackBerry isn’t content with providing the same experience most Android devices currently do. Instead, the company will introduce added features and functionality to improve the Android experience.

BlackBerry Hub offers a central location for viewing every message and notification on the device. Instead of reviewing messages from apps individually, users can now see them all in one place, at one time. For example, text messages and Slack messages would appear in one list, so individuals wouldn’t have to wrestle with navigating both features at the same time. Meanwhile, universal search will help users find email attachments, miscellaneous documents, and conversations stored on the device.

Additional features shown in the video include a microSD card slot for expandable storage, a dedicated camera button, and a microUSB port for charging the device. If you watch closely you’ll even see the icon for T-Mobile’s My Account app on the phone, leading some to infer that the wireless company will carry the device.

If this video proves true, BlackBerry users will presumably still enjoy the same level of security the tech company has long prided itself on, while also taking advantage of the larger app ecosystem Android provides.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen previously said during a CNBC interview he would only release a device that runs Android if the company could figure out how to keep it secure. With the device now looking more real than ever, it’s only a matter of time before we find out if he remained true to his convictions.

The switch to an Android-powered device with heavy BlackBerry customization may prove to be a smart decision, or it could be one last desperate attempt at salvaging the firms handset business. Either way, it’s worth a shot.

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