BlackBerry (BBRY) is gearing up for the release of its first Android-powered smartphone, the BlackBerry Priv. On Wednesday night the company prematurely published a pre-order page for the device on its official Shop BlackBerry page. It was taken offline roughly an hour after it was discovered by CrackBerry.
On Friday, the company officially published its pre-order page.
The Priv will feature a 5.4-inch curved display, slide-out keyboard, 32 GB of storage, 18-megapixel camera and a large 3,410 milliamp-hour battery. It will not work with Verizon (VZ), Sprint (S), or U.S. Cellular (leaving AT&T (T) and T-Mobile as the only two compatible wireless carriers). Looking over the spec sheet, it’s clearly a high-end device.
The Priv will begin shipping on Nov. 6 and retail for $699.
You read that right, the BlackBerry Priv will sell for $699. BlackBerry CEO John Chen wasn’t lying when he said Priv was short for privilege (and privacy).
Over the course of 2015 we’ve watched as the smartphone industry—especially amongst Android manufacturers, of which BlackBerry is now one—shifted towards pricing high-end devices at more affordable prices. BlackBerry has chosen to buck that trend and over price the make-or-break device for its hardware division.
To put the BlackBerry Priv’s absurd price tag into perspective, here’s a short list of devices you can buy for about the same price:
- 64 GB iPhone 6S ($749)
- 16 GB iPhone 6S Plus ($749)
- 128 GB Nexus 6P ($649)
- 32 GB Samsung Galaxy Note 5 ($699 from T-Mobile)
- 64 GB Motorola Moto X Pure Edition ($499)
The above devices are made by companies that are well versed in working with their respective platforms, so the price tag can be justified.
BlackBerry, on the other hand, has zero experience with producing and maintaining an Android device at scale. Sorry, but a slide-out keyboard and curved screen simply doesn’t justify the high price.
Furthermore, during a recent appearance at the Code Mobile conference, Chen equated the Priv’s security protocol with Samsung Knox, the South Korean company’s proprietary security mechanism used in its Android devices. The admission removes yet another bullet point from the Priv’s sales pitch, since the company has long touted its services as being more secure than its competitors.
At the same conference, Chen said he’d consider shutting down BlackBerry’s hardware business if it isn’t profitable “sometime next year,” meaning 2016.
Thanks in part to the company’s approach in pricing the Priv, it may very well be time we start saying our goodbyes to BlackBerry’s hardware division.
The IDC lists BlackBerry’s smartphone market share at a measly 0.3% based on operating systems. By hitching the company’s wagon to Android, we’ll have to rely on BlackBerry releasing device sales figures to see how successful, or not the Priv is going forward.
BlackBerry did not respond to Fortune’s request for comment.
Update: BlackBerry recently announced that the Priv was available for pre-order at $699, not $749. This post has been updated to reflect the new pricing.
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