Notorious leaker Evan Blass shared renders of the rumored phone on Twitter last month, now a set of photos has appeared online.
The images were published by Taiwanese website Tinhte and reportedly show the rumored BlackBerry Android-powered smartphone. They confirm the form factor predicted by Blass and include the physical QWERT keyboard which has become BlackBerry’s calling card.
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Physical keyboard makes for bulky form factor
BlackBerry appears to have tucked the keyboard behind a full-size touch screen, giving users the best of both worlds. Fans of the company’s previous models will be pleased to hear that the keys seemingly maintain the sloped shape classically found on BlackBerry keyboards.
These features come at the expense of a slightly bulky form factor which may remind users of the first generation Nokia Lumia Windows Phones. The photos show a textured back case which is reminiscent of the backing Motorola used on its more rugged devices.
Photos also reveal a speaker grill which stretches the width of the bottom of the handset, a Micro SD card slot at the top and an 18 megapixel rear camera. The WhatsApp messenger app appears in the corner of the home screen, but interestingly there is no icon for BlackBerry’s BBM messenger.
Android-powered BlackBerry looks set to become a reality
The company has not confirmed rumors that the new phone will be powered by Android, although it increasingly sounds as though it will be. Sources that spoke to Reuters previously claimed that the phone would be released this fall.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen did not rule out the possibility of an Android-powered handset, assuming that security issues can be overcome. “If I can find a way to secure the Android phone, I will also build that,” he said in June.
These security issues have already been overcome by other manufacturers such as Silent Circle, whose Blackphone runs a more secure version of Android for enterprise customers. This sector is a key market for BlackBerry, and the existence of more secure Android handsets means that Chen is almost being forced to release an Android-powered BlackBerry.
BlackBerry’s amazing fall from grace means that it now has 0.8% market share in the smartphone market, and Chen is struggling to keep the company relevant.