The day is FINALLY here. The BlackBerry PRIV is now up for Pre-Order in the UK, exclusively at Carphone Warehouse. The first BlackBerry secure smartphone powered by Android will be available at £39 per month, with an upfront cost of £59.99 or £579.99 SIM free.
“PRIV has the authentic BlackBerry keyboard,” said Carphone Warehouse in it marketing materials, “legendary security, streamlined communications and productivity, combined with the wide world of Google Play store apps. It has been engineered with the world’s finest technology, and packaged in an ultra-thin, ergonomically perfect device with a keyboard hidden by SmartSlide technology.”
“At the same time, we are focused on making faster progress to achieve profitability in our handset business. Today, I am confirming our plans to launch Priv, an Android device named after BlackBerry’s heritage and core mission of protecting our customers’ privacy. Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform” — John Chen.
BlackBerry has also published official statements regarding the new handset:
“Today, BlackBerry is announcing two new additions to its handheld device roadmap. First, the company will launch a flagship slider device, Priv, which will run on the Android operating system, bringing together the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform. In combination with BlackBerry’s efforts to support Android for Work on the BES12 platform, the new device will offer best in class security for enterprise customers. BlackBerry expects the device to be available late in the calendar year in major markets in-store and online, and will release further details in the coming weeks.”
This is no ordinary BlackBerry handset. Unlike all previous BlackBery phones running the firm’s own bespoke BlackBerry OS software, the Priv may be the first phone from the company running a third party platform – specifically, Google’s prominent and well-supported Android software.
BlackBerry has published a bunch of PRIV-specific BlackBerry Apps on Google Play ahead of the handset’s official release date. The apps that are currently available on Google Play include BlackBerry Launcher, Keyboard, Camera, and Services, as well as Password Keeper, DTEK by BlackBerry, and MicrosoftexFAT for BlackBerry.
BlackBerry has taken to its official blog to discuss further the BlackBerry Priv, its reception, and also share the first official images of the handset, which you can see below. Here’s the official line via BlackBerry:
“Since confirming and previewing our coming privacy-enabled Android smartphone last Friday, we’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of interest – and humbled by the early praise. Why the interest? I think it has something to do with what Chen wrote last Friday: privacy IS a fast-disappearing privilege in the modern world. The same goes for productivity.
“Somewhere along the way, most smartphones evolved from tools into toys, with vendors prioritizing fun over work. With PRIV’s software enhancements, physical keyboard and oversized screen, all enabled by the slider form factor, we’re bringing privacy, productivity, and, oh yes, some sexy, back. Because it’s Powered By Android, PRIV will also deliver the largest choice in apps and the most secure experience possible to the widest audience. PRIV users will enjoy choice, innovation, security, privacy AND productivity. In other words, no compromises.
BlackBerry Reveals Android Marshmallow Update Plans For 2016
Well kind of. Yes folks, we’ve known for some time the BlackBerry Priv would launch with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop onboard, but we also knew that Marshmallow was coming – and of course it’s now here as a more up-to-date build of the software. So does BlackBerry have plans to update the Priv after launch? In a word, yes.
It’s not quite as straightforward as that though. BlackBerry president of devices Ron Louks has confirmed that the Priv will be updated to Marshmallow “sometimes in the new year”, but hasn’t narrowed it down. It’s wide open at this point, but at least we know it’s coming.
What’s more, Louks also confirmed that going forward BlackBerry intends to keep pace with Google’s release of subsequent patches, stating that the idea is to follow each Google rollout within 30 days. Good going, here’s hoping the firm can stick.
Anyone with more than a passing interest in mobile devices has probably, at some point, ruminated on the idea of a cross-over device; a handset built by one manufacturer in their typical style, but running software not at all associated with that firm. A Nokia Lumia running Android, a Samsung Galaxy running iOS, there are all kinds of wacky and possibly perverse combinations.
“It is not clear whether a move to use Android would spell the end of the company’s BlackBerry 10 line of devices that were initially launched to much fanfare in early 2013,” reports The Mail. “Many believe the handset could be the company’s last attempt to revive itself following disastrous sales of its own BB10 touchscreen handsets. After positive early reviews, the late-to-launch BlackBerry devices haven’t competed well with Android or Apple, mainly due to a lack of big name apps. BlackBerry recently opened up its software to run Android apps, but many said this wasn’t enough to tempt users from other platform.”
Here at KYM we’ve been fond of BlackBerry’s recent hardware, and while the BlackBerry 10 software has improved massively, it still has a few quirks which make it difficult to commit to when compared to Android and iOS.
Now though, it seems as though one of these dream combos is actually occuring in order to rectify that particular problem; a BlackBerry handset with Android onboard.
We’d heard this idea a little while ago, it started off as a trickle of rumours but has gradually gained more and more traction. It really started to become a plausible idea when BlackBerry CEO John Chen started commenting on the rumours, saying the Canadian firm would consider an Android build if it could be made secure.
John Chen, in a video interview with BNN, gave a live demonstration of the BlackBerry Priv and its slide-out keyboard. Interestingly, the physical keyboard retains the BlackBerry Passport’s dual-role keyboard, where the keys are also capacitive and allow the use of gestures for additional controls.
BlackBerry Taking Hardline With Android Security
BlackBerry is taking a firm stance on security for its PRIV handset and has confirmed it will be doing monthly updates so as to ensure the software is as water-tight as possible. BlackBerry detailed its three-prong approach to security on its Inside BlackBerry blog. Below are the three initiatives in full:
Android Monthly Security Updates
Each month Google releases to BlackBerry and other Android OEMs a security bulletin containing a list of recently discovered Android vulnerabilities. Approximately one month later, Google exposes these in the public domain, so it is critical that BlackBerry release software in advance of public disclosure. BlackBerry will release these monthly updates to users that have purchased PRIV through shopblackberry.com and to PRIV resellers (carriers and other authorized dealers) that have agreed to participate in our regular monthly update program and facilitate rapid approval of our monthly updates for over-the-air (OTA) to subscribers.
Some critical Android vulnerabilities – for example, one that can be easily and remotely exploited with a publicly disclosed method to execute “root” privileged malware – simply can’t wait for a monthly update cycle. Depending on the severity of the problem, complexity of the fix, and timing relative to the monthly update cycle, BlackBerry will opt to perform a hotfix, where the code to address only the specific critical problem is pushed to customers. Because a hotfix is typically limited in scope, the balance between a longer testing and approval process and the risk from the critical flaw makes this approach an important addition to helping keep users safe and secure. While BlackBerry will work with its go-to-market partners on approval and delivery of hotfixes, BlackBerry has the ability to directly patch all PRIV variants and will do so when necessary to protect users and enterprises.
Historically, IT has managed the delivery of OS updates to business PCs. By controlling when and to which devices and users that patches are delivered, IT can avoid expensive software incompatibilities and ensure that the security issues most important to the business are mitigated. In the mobile world, enterprises have lost this control. BlackBerry aims to bring back this control through BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) and OTA management systems.
BlackBerry PRIV BlackBerry Hub & Other Features Detailed (VIDEO)
“BlackBerry has released its own official video showing off the Priv,” noted CrackBerry. In the video we get a good look at the Hub, flick keyboard and much more. Not long ago Carphone Warehouse published a hands on with the Priv, but the latest look comes directly from BlackBerry itself. In the video description, BlackBerry describes the Priv as:
“PRIV has the authentic BlackBerry keyboard, legendary security, streamlined communications and productivity, combined with the wide world of Google Play store apps. It has been engineered with the world’s finest technology, and packaged in an ultra-thin, ergonomically perfect device with a keyboard hidden by SmartSlide technology.”
BlackBerry Priv To Pack 21MP Sony IMX230 Camera
We’ve now seen a few leaks and demonstrations of the BlackBerry Priv, but with each handset shown they are pre-production models rather than being the final edit, so to speak. And there’s been a bit of a discrepency between showcased devices when it comes to camera hardware.
According to Twitter leakster Schneider-Kreuznach optics. The 21MP Sony setup is the same kit seen inside the Motorola Moto X Style.the production model will feature a 20MP Sony IMX230 sensor, regardless of what else we’ve seen so far. Previous leaks have shown an 18MP setup with
Hands-On With The BlackBerry Priv!
Someone’s got hold of the BlackBerry Priv for a hands-on before the launch, and no, unfortunately, it’s not us. The hands in question belong to a poster on Redditwho seemed very enthused to be able to play with the phone. According to the post, the handset belonged to a BlackBerry exec who was attending a conference and allowed the Redditor to have a little go!
“I must admit, it’s a VERY nice device. It was actually thinner than my Note 5!,” said user ‘imsorandom’. To clarify the Note 5 measures 7.6mm thick.
“It also seemed snappy and smooth and the keyboard was also very nice. It had full access to the Play store as you would expect and he had a few apps loaded,” they added.
“The screen was very nice with a high PPI and it seemed to curvey around the edges. I have to say that I’m definitely interested in Blackberry again!”
CEO John Chen Reveals Bold Ambitions
Ok, so we’ve seen leaked photos of the actual BlackBerry Venice already (see below) and we know from multiple leaks that it will be available in black or white. Today though, a fan has released renders they have produced based on the leaked images, so naturally it looks just as the real-deal will, and we get to see it from a range of angles. However, the difference here is said fan has got a bit creative with the colour options. While we somehow doubt BlackBerry will just so happen to opt for the very same colour variants, the firm isn’t exactly a stranger to producing brightly coloured handsets either; we’ve seen red and silver editions of past devices, for example.
At the same time, BlackBerry’s outspoken CEO John Chen has voiced his ambitions for the firm and its latest devices, speaking at the Waterloo Innovation Summit, Chen said that the consumer mobile space had shifted towards “sexiness” and that while using a BlackBerry device was once a “badge of honour” the firm had lost that edge. He insinuated he wished to reclaim it. You can see the interview embedded below.
BlackBerry Priv Live Photos Leak
As of September 16, a big truckload of live photos of the BlackBerry Venice has emerged, posted by Android Authority. The images show the handset off from a variety of angles and we get a pretty good look at the bodywork design, the slide-out keyboard, and plenty of snaps showing the display with its Android software and a few features.
“The Priv’s 18MP Schneider Kreuznach rear-camera is capable of shooting 4k video,” reports N4BB. “Android is notorious for malware and other exploit vulnerabilities, which makes the operating system less secure than others. The Priv is currently running Android OS 5.1.1 and BlackBerry has its own proprietary security app bundled. The ‘BlackBerry Safeguard’ app lets you view the Priv’s security status. You can view and edit your settings for apps, developer options, screen lock, trusted websites, and more.”
The software seems to be mostly stock Android, which is fantastic, but understandably there are a few BlackBerry tweaks, most notably, AA’s source stated there are keyboard shortcuts which will allow you to perform certain functions via a key press. We’re pretty sure even the most fanatical Android purist won’t begrudge BlackBerry that useful little alteration.
The source also said that when the phone boots up a screen displays a bug-styled Android man holding a shield, which seems to indicate BlackBerry’s built-in security features. As you can see there are also some good shots showing the app-switcher multitasking screens and what appears to be a quick shortcut menu for composing new messages, adding new calendar entries and more from the homescreen.
Everybody’s favourite leaker, @evleaks, AKA Evan Blass has returned from retirement with an image of what is claimed to be a press shot of BlackBerry’s upcoming Android-powered Venice handset, which you can see below in all its glory.
You can’t really see much in the image itself, save for the UX. KYM is rather optimistic about this handset, especially after 2014’s Passport handset. BlackBerry can still make good handsets, has excellent software, and, with the inclusion of Android, closes all the real holes BB10 had as a platform, which was basically app support.
@evleaks is at it again – over August 19 and 20 the prominent Twitter tipster (Twipster?) made a couple of posts featuring video teasers for the upcoming device. In the first video, which Blass dubs “eye candy” we see the camera pan across the physical keyboard, get a glimpse of one of those cool “exploded” camera lens renders showing all the components, and get a few shots of the device from the side, including one final pan across the keyboard.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks)August 19, 2015
The second video shows the whole handset rotating onto the screen before the keyboard slides open. We can see the front-facing speaker stays in place at the bottom, and the curved glass on the edges of the touch display.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks)August 19, 2015
John Chen is confirmed as one of the headline speakers at the Code/Mobile expo in California on October 7. Chen is expected to discuss many things, including the future of the mobile space, but most in attendance will be interested in hearing about his plans for BlackBerry in the immediate future.
Chen promised four BlackBerry handsets in 2015 and so far we’ve seen just one — the lukewarm BlackBerry Leap. All of this could change in the latter part of the year, however, with the advent of the Android-powered BlackBerry Venice and the also-Android-powered BlackBerry Passport 2. Could Chen use the Code/Mobile event as a launch pad for both handsets? It seems plausible, though it probably makes more sense to get the launched before then now the iPhone is out of the way.
Another picture of the BlackBerry Venice has appeared online, and while it is rather subtle in what it reveals, it does look very similar to the leaks we’ve seen during the past few months. The handset is expected to feature a QHD display, Snapdragon 808 CPU and 3GB of RAM, as well as Android at its core.
According to a Tweet made by reliable leakster Evan Blass, aka @evleaks, the BlackBerry Venice has now been “confirmed” for a release in November 2015, specifically in the US on all major US carrier networks, though that doesn’t necessarily rule it out launching in non-US regions.
Blass also posted up a handful of renders of the handset, one of which would appear to confirm the presence of Android and Google Play.
Another image from Blass is similar to one we saw previously, but shows the slide-out keyboard extended, and a better angle of the display and interface. Lastly, the current rumours appear to suggest a 5.4in QHD display (slightly larger than the 5.1in rumoured before). A Snapdragon 808 with 3GB of RAM is still expected.
BlackBerry has NOT confirmed the handset will run Android, however, though there is plenty of evidence to now suggest this will be the case. BlackBerry CEO John Chen did not deny claims his company would release an Android phone in 2015, for instance, and the company has registered BlackBerry “Android” domains on the web.
The BlackBerry Venice isn’t likely to be the only Android handset BlackBerry releases in 2015/16. Word on the street suggests the company is preparing a reboot of the BlackBerry Passport too. Details about the handset are sketchy at present, but there is this leaked picture (see below) of the alleged Passport 2 device running Android Lollipop 5.1.
The phone will be known as BlackBerry Passport 2 and will be made available in the second quarter of 2016, reports Geek Says. ‘Under the hood it will have a Snapdragon 801 chipset, with four Krait 400 cores, running at 2.26 GHz, alongside 3GB of RAM, Adreno 330 GPU and 32GB of expandable storage. The rear camera will use a 13 MP sensor, while the front-facing one will rely on a 2 MP snapper. Finally, the battery could sport the same capacity of 3450 mAh.’
Gizmodo has now chimed in on the idea of BlackBerry using Android inside its upcoming 2015 handsets, however, I kind of think the piece, with its BB10-bashing, sort of misses the point. BB10 is NOT a bad platform. In fact, it is one of the best platforms on the planet, packed full of useful features and things like the BlackBerry Hub which make staying on top of your communications a breeze.
“But here’s the thing, Blackberry makes great shit. The software is behind the times, but the hardware has always been great. And importantly, different. Black and chrome is Blackberry’s calling card, and frankly, it works. Right now, when there’s still a) a small but vocal populace that wants hardware keyboards, and b) an increasingly agitated populace that wants small phones. Blackberry could deliver something that’s truly different than any other smartphone out there. It just needs to ditch its horrible OS to get there.”
The thing BB10 lacks, for want of a better word, is apps and media content. And, yes, I know you can install Android applications on BB10, but I don’t like feeling like a second-class citizen when it comes to applications. I want proper, official applications that are designed to run on my handset’s exact software because they look better and perform better.
A move towards a BB10-augmented fork of Android, complete with access to Amazon Apps AND Google Play, would not only solve ALL of BlackBerry’s current problems. But it would also satisfy all of its existing consumer base as well, because all the awesome features of BB10 would still be present. Granted, this is speculative on my part, but it is the only real way I could see BlackBerry “doing” Android. After all, the company is NOT going to become just another Google partner now, is it?
BlackBerry Acquires Android Domain: It Is SO ON!
So BlackBerry seems to be making some moves ahead of the launch of the alleged Android handset it is rumoured to be working on.
The latest info comes via Android Community, which spotted a set of WhoIsdomain records showing the Canadian manufacturer has registered two new domains. The documentation suggests that “BlackBerry Limited” has acquired AndroidSecured.com and AndroidSecured.net as of July 7.
The acquisition would appear to tie in with BlackBerry CEO John Chen’s statements that the firm would explore Android if it could make a secure smartphone using the platform. Clearly it has ambitions to implement a secure Android web experience and will use these domains for some related purpose.
According to a tip-off from July 2, the Android-based BlackBerry Venice slider handset will debut on US network AT&T. The word comes via reputable Twitter leakster Evan Blass, aka @evleaks.
Blass also posted a press photo of the handset’s keyboard and you can clearly see Android icons on the lower part of the display. It’s alleged the phone will arrive in November using a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 chip.
While @evleaks only mentions a US release on AT&T specifically, it seems somewhat unlikely to us that BlackBerry would keep this phone a US exclusive and we do expect to hear more soon about it being rolled out in other regions.
The news follows earlier reports from Reuters, which received information from anonymous sources.
“The sources,” reports Reuters, “who asked not to be named as they have not been authorised to discuss the matter publicly, said the move to use Android is part of BlackBerry’s strategy to pivot to focus on software and device management. BlackBerry, which once dominated smartphone sales, now has a market share of less than 1 percent.”
The inclusion of Android aboard BlackBerry devices and how it would work is largely unclear at the moment, information is patchy. What could happen is something similar to how Cyanogen operates; BlackBerry could take Google’s source code, completely repackage it, add in all its security features and ship it aboard its devices, complete with Google services like Google Play.
Two sources said that if BlackBerry moves forward on a plan to launch an Android device, it could come with some of the patented features in its BlackBerry 10 operating system. BlackBerry and Google declined to comment on the speculation, however, the sources claims BlackBerry’s upcoming slider handset could be the first Android-powered BlackBerry out the blocks.
BlackBerry will probably use Android on an upcoming slider device that is likely to be released this autumn, two sources said. The slider will combine a touch screen with a physical keyboard that users can use if they prefer.
Outspoken and somewhat revolutionary BlackBerry CEO John Chen has quickly become a bit of an icon for his ballsy approach to bringing the Canadian firm back from the brink. Speaking to CNBC during an interview, Chen was quizzed on the Android subject, his response was rather interesting to say the very least.
“We only build secure phones, and BlackBerry is the most secure phone. So, if I can find a way to ecure the Android phone, I will also build that.”
So while that’s not confirmation that BlackBerry is working on an Android device, it does imply Chen is open to the idea of a BlackBerry built Android phone IF the firm can build one that is as secure as a BB OS alternative. In a way that does imply that the company may be playing with Google’s software in its labs to see if this can be done. We have our fingers crossed!
The rumours of an Android BlackBerry phone emerged fairly recently, pointing to an alleged BlackBerry “Prague” handset. It’s said to look like a BlackBerry Z3 and to be touch-only, but with low-end specs. The idea of BlackBerry using Android software isn’t that far fetched, valid security concerns aside. The company’s BlackBerry OS supported Android applications in previous builds via side-loading but the most recent iteration actually integrated app store support and direct installation of content.
The move would certainly be an interesting one. For a long while there’s been speculative talk of BlackBerry abandoning its devices business and focusing on becoming a software and services company.
However, Chen has remained resolute that BlackBerry will continue to produce devices for now. So far, BlackBerry’s push for improved software and some rather innovative devices, such as the BlackBerry Passport, has met with a mixed reception. In our view the devices have been solid, and BlackBerry OS is much, much more appealing than it used to be, but we can’t help imagining that the devices would sell a lot better with Android onboard.
In recent weeks there have been a multitude of stories about layoffs with BlackBerry and potential acquisitions by a number of firms, though Microsoft is the name that keeps appearing time and time again. According to reports, Microsoft has a number of investment firms evaluating BlackBerry and the figure being tossed around is $7 billion.
With the layoffs, though, this is only part of the equation as BlackBerry is also actively recruiting people too; again, showing us exactly why it is worth looking at both sides of the story, rather than just the headline-grabbing doom and gloom aspects.
“When I look at this announcement (the layoffs),” notes CrackBerry, “I see what John Chen has been saying for a while being laid out once again. He’s going to keep the hardware business going and attempt to make it profitable but, he’s going ensure that other areas, where BlackBerry can see growth and profit, are sufficiently covered. Perhaps, the most interesting portion of the statement isn’t really about the layoffs but rather the mention that BlackBerry will in the coming months be ramping up their ‘customer-facing activities in sales and marketing’, which as we know has been a pain point among many BlackBerry fans.”
Plenty has already been said about the possibility of BlackBerry adopting Google’s Android platform inside its handsets in 2015/16. The move would be HUGE, creating massive waves in the mobile space. As a long time fan of BlackBerry, I am very intrigued about the prospect of a BlackBerry handset, replete with all of BB10’s USPs, rocking Android – it sounds wild, but it could definitely work.
And, thanks to the internet, we have a bunch of renderings of what such a handset would look like. Deviant Art penned the designs in an attempt to capture just what Android would look like running on a BlackBerry handset. It’s not official of course, merely a speculative scribble on what could potentially become a reality later on this year.
The Plot Thickens –– Features Samsung!?
The first Android-powered BlackBerry handset produced by BlackBerry will apparently be called the Venice, according to a lead from sometime-right-sometime-wrong leaker, Eldar Murtazin. The Venice is said to be the slider handset BlackBerry debuted at MWC 2015 –– it was the one with the curved display and slide out QWERTY keyboard, if your memory fails you.
But that’s not all. Murtazin claims Samsung has helped BlackBerry create the handset, which would explain how BlackBerry got an EDGE display installed on the device. The handset will apparently run Android Lollipop alongside BlackBerry services. The ‘Berry slider will supposedly feature a 5.1-inch screen with a 1440 x 2560 resolution, powered by an octa-core processor with a back and front camera combo of 16MP/5MP –– basically, exactly the same as the Galaxy S6 / Galaxy S6 EDGE.
Obviously, this MUST be taken with a pinch of salt. Still, it’s an interesting development all the same. And, if it’s not true, props to Eldar for dreaming up such a crazy fantasy.
“We don’t comment on rumors and speculation, but we remain committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which provides security and productivity benefits that are unmatched,” BlackBerry said in a statement to PCMag.
More recently, BlackBerry has confirmed that it plans to bring some of its patented security, productivity and communication tools to any handset running iOS, Android and Windows. This could see things like BlackBerry Hub –– a truly awesome feature –– appearing on iPhone and Android handsets. BBM was just the tip of the iceberg. Personally, this is something I would LOVE to see happen.
For me, the big takeaway here is the combination of Google and BlackBerry services under one platform. I know this is all speculation at present, but after using BB10 a lot during the past few years this is something I’ve given a lot of thought to. I don’t want to see BB10 dropped, it has way too many positives. But I would like native support for Google services and Google Play.
Blackphone has proved you can do security on Android, using the tools that Google makes available to developers, and BlackBerry really does know what it’s doing when it comes to software development, so the idea of its taking Google’s Android source code and turning it into something even more robust that what Google passes on to its hardware partners isn’t outside the realms of possibility. I just wish BlackBerry would make some official comment on this, as the suspense is quite literally KILLING me!
If BlackBerry can do both of these things while retaining everything that made BB10 so good this then is basically the best of both worlds and something, as a BlackBerry fan, I am extremely excited about. Complete source