BlackBerry has been rumored to be working on an Android phone for quite some time. In fact, almost as soon as its CEO John Chen teased the portrait slider dubbed ‘Venice’, it was predicted it might run Google’s operating. We’ve seen a leaked render showing the front of the device with what looks like stock Android. We’ve even seen slides showing off some of the BlackBerry-inspired user interface elements. What we haven’t seen yet is that ever-elusive keyboard.

Evan Blass (@evleaks) took to Twitter in the early hours of this morning to share the following render with us, showing the device in full with the keyboard extended.

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From the subtle lighting on the render we can just about make out that the keys share a similar sculpted design to regular BlackBerry keyboards. The one thing that’s missing versus the Passport and Classic are the metal frets running between the rows. That said, they’re still fairly well spaced apart. If it’s genuine, I’ll be interested to feel what the balance is like in hand. Previous portrait sliders from BlackBerry have been a little top-heavy, making it hard to type without constantly feeling like it’s losing balance.

What I really like is the subtly curved glass towards the edges of the display. It adds a little more shine and polish to the look of the smartphone. With it running Android, it’s unlikely that we’ll see huge bezels with built in sensors for various gestures.

I won’t lie, few rumored devices this year have excited me more than the prospect of a BlackBerry running Android. That’s partly because I love the clickety-clack of a physical keyboard, and BlackBerry makes the best mobile keyboards. It’s also partly because arguably, the only thing missing from BlackBerry’s devices right now is a selection of great apps that all work. I’ve been using the Classic and Passport off-and-on for the past 8-9 months, with Android apps running semi-successfully. The one thing they really miss is Google Play Services to ensure all apps run reliably.

Although the device may seem all but confirmed now, we still need to wait for BlackBerry’s official announcement before we can be absolutely sure this ‘Venice’ is hitting the market. John Chen, the company’s chief, has stated previously that they would make an Android phone if they could make it secure. And that’s one thing we know BlackBerry can do. Its recent push to ensure we all know its BES12 enterprise service secures Android phones is evidence of that. That’s not forgetting the time it bought some Android-related domains, and promptly used them to show off how it can protect your employee’s smartphones.


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