We got a glimpse of BlackBerry’s rumored Android-powered smartphone last month, in the form a render shared on Twitter by notorious leaker Evan Blass. Now photos of the Android BlackBerry have apparently leaked too — published by Taiwanese website Tinhte (spotted earlier by TechTimes).
The latest photos appear to confirm the rendered form factor we saw in last month’s leak, with a trademark BlackBerry physical Qwerty tucked under a sliding full size touchscreen — for a cake and eat it approach to mobile computing. The keys are not flat either, but rather look to have the classic sloped shaping so beloved of former CrackBerry addicts.
As you’d expect for a smartphone that has to pack in both full size touchscreen and (bumpy) physical keys, the most obvious trade-off is a fairly chunky form factor, albeit with curved sides — making it a little reminiscent of first wave Nokia Lumia Windows Phones.
It also doesn’t look like the battery will be removable, but hey you can’t have everything — even if you want touchscreen-plus-Qwerty-plus-BlackBerry-hardware-plus-Android software…
On the rear, there’s a textured pattern which looks similar to the carbon-fiber scratch-proof backing Motorola used to clad certain of its more ruggedized devices with. Other features of note: a speaker grill that extends right across the bottom of the handset, a Micro SD card slot on the top of the device, and what is apparently an 18MP rear camera.
Amusingly the phone has the WhatsApp messenger app at the top corner of the stock Android homescreen. There’s no sign of BlackBerry’s own BBM messenger.
BlackBerry still hasn’t confirmed its plans vis-a-vis Android, so the FrankenBlackBerry could be something it’s still toying with at this stage, rather than definitely releasing — although the noises coming out of the company have been increasingly skewing in Google’s direction of late.
Earlier this summer Reuters cited sources slating a fall launch for an Android slider BlackBerry. While CEO John Chen has also said he is not against the idea of building an Android phone if it can be done in a secure way. “If I can find a way to secure the Android phone, I will also build that,” he said back in June.
Other mobile makers are already doing just that of course — such as Silent Circle’s Blackphone, which runs a hardened version of Android and targets the enterprise segment where BlackBerry also plays — so really BlackBerry’s hand is being pushed towards this slider launch.
As it stands BlackBerry’s marketshare in smartphones has collapsed to almost total irrelevance — with analyst IDC recently recording a share of 0.8 per cent for all other smartphone OSes, outside the dominant platforms: Android (81.1 per cent) and iOS (15.6 per cent), and third placed Windows Phone (2.6 per cent).