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BlackBerry Confirms Android Smartphone Plans

Blackberry confirmed that it will offer its first Android-based smartphone late in the year but said it will also continue to offer phones based on its BlackBerry 10 OS.

The company declined to offer phone details but said the phone, called Priv, will bring a slider to the lineup to join touchscreen-only and bar-type models, which feature touchscreen and fixed QWERTY keyboard. The Priv slider’s touchscreen slides up to reveal a physical QWERTY keyboard.

The device will combine “the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform,” the company said. BlackBerry’s own app store offers a more limited app selection, though BlackBerry phones can also run apps available through the Amazon Appstore.

Combined with the company’s Android for Work enterprise software, “the new device will offer best-in-class security for enterprise customers,” the company added.

The phone will be in major markets in-store and online, with additional details to be released in the coming week, Blackberry said.

Meantime, the company said it will enhance the BlackBerry 10 operating system with updates focused on security and privacy. Version 10.3.3 of the OS will be released in March.

Though Blackberry didn’t reveal phone details, leaked images and specs from @evleaks indicate the device will feature a 5.4-inch Quad HD display, hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB RAM, 3000 mAh battery, and 18-megapixel main camera.

The Qwerty keyboard is expected to feature capacitive touch input to let users scroll through a page by sliding a finger up and down the keyboard.