Blackberry’s ‘Venice’ Android Phone: What We Know Right Now

Android fans, get ready. Canadian wireless carrier Baka Mobile posted a video late last week of Blackberry’s upcoming Venice Android smartphone, and it looks like a winner. Like most BlackBerrys, the Venice sports a physical keyboard, here sliding out from the bottom of the device. But little else showing resemblance to the BlackBerrys we’ve come to know: the Venice is Android through and through.

The video, which has unfortunately been pulled, ran about four minutes and provided a quick rundown of the device. Like previous Blackberrys, you don’t need to use the touchscreen to navigate the device. The Venice uses a similar system to that of the Passport, where you can run your fingers across the keyboard to navigate in a trackball-like fashion.

Quick access to important apps are provided from a button located on the bottom center of the screen. From here the user can access Google services, BlackBerry search, and BlackBerry Hub applications.

The Hub is a new feature released with Blackberry OS 10 this year where all notifications can be viewed, according to this Sprint help article. You may think it’s similar to the way the notification panes work on both iOS and Android, but it’s a bit different.

Hub allows you to both read and respond to notifications from a central location. Think of it more as your e-mail, text messaging, and social media apps combined into one — that’s basically what the Hub is.

Some improvements, but still a BlackBerry

Baka Mobile notes that the device is much more balanced weight-wise compared to previous devices, making it a little easier to hold. Previous devices — such as the BlackBerry Torch — were criticized for being a little too top-heavy, even prompting consumers to return the device, ZDNet reported at the time. That doesn’t seem to be a problem here. The video’s narrator says that the device felt well balanced either closed or open.

Traditional BlackBerry users shouldn’t find too much else foreign despite the operating system change. The power button is located on the left hand side of the device, and the volume keys and convenience key on the right. For those less BlackBerry literate, the convenience key is a button place on the side of most devices which allows the user to assign a commonly used function or application to be accessed each time the button is pressed.


Source: Thinkstock

But wait, there’s more

According to Android Authority, which has also been following developments on the Venice, the display is said to be roughly 5.4 inches. The site also reported that an impressive 3GB of RAM is inside, complemented by a 1.8GHz Snapdragon 808 processor, which would put it on an even footing with many current Android flagships.

It isn’t clear from any of the leaks what version of Android the Venice will run. It’s probably safe to say that the device will run Android 6.0 Marshmallow though, which is expected to be released sometime in the fall. This matches up well with leaks that indicate the device is set to release on the major carriers in November, reports Android Authority.

These latest leaks also match up well (if not exactly) with what we were able to dig up in July regarding the device. No doubt, anticipation is building even more for what could be one of the best Android devices to release this year. There’s one thing for certain though: there’s a lot riding on this gadget.

Will it be enough to save BlackBerry from irrelevance? That’s the biggest question. All but squeezed out of a market it once held sizeable market share in, the company needs a hit. Will the old adage “if you can’t beat them, join them” apply here? Only time will tell.

Follow Ed on Twitter @edoswald

More on Gear & Style Cheat Sheet