Sometimes it’s hard to remember that there are actually four “major” smartphone platforms available to us. There are iOS and Android, of course, but there are also the less popular Windows 10 Mobile, and the even less popular BlackBerry 10 OS. In particular, it isn’t farfetched for people to forget that BlackBerry 10 still exists, especially since BlackBerry made headlines last year when they revealed their first Android smartphone, the BlackBerry Priv.
The Priv is an interesting device. It has a 5.4-inch 1440 x 2560 (540 ppi) AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage with microSD card slot that supports up to 256GB additional, an 18-megapixel rear-facing camera, 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and has since been updated to Android Marshmallow version 6.0.1.
The specs aren’t the interesting part about the Priv, though. The interesting part is that BlackBerry managed to stick their signature keyboard on this device with a portrait-oriented slide-out keyboard. For people who were itching to get their hands back on a physical keyboard, the Priv is one of the few Android devices that currently sports this feature.
Another perk of the Priv is that you have BlackBerry on your side, a company that is dedicated and known for their tight security. In the world of Android, where vulnerabilities don’t exactly run rampant but is known to happen (i.e. Stagefright), BlackBerry is a welcome addition.
But despite BlackBerry’s recognizable brand name, dedication to security, and a rare inclusion of a physical keyboard on an Android device, the Priv didn’t really boost BlackBerry to new heights. It would seem that its initial high price point ($699) was too much when compared to what other phones out there offered for comparable pricing. On top of that – and this is purely opinion based on my own observations and experience – people seemed to have moved on from physical keyboards at this point. Furthermore, I only know a handful of people who are consciously concerned about smartphone security. Most people I know either feel secure enough, or just have little concept of what privacy and security mean anymore. So the two biggest things that made the Priv stand out from other Androids don’t seem to appeal to most smartphone users, especially with that price tag.
But the Priv is (presumably) not the last Android we will see from BlackBerry. New reports suggest that at least one, possibly two, new BlackBerry Android devices will be available soon: the BlackBerry Hamburg and the BlackBerry Rome.
The Hamburg appears likely to surface first, with the device being recently approved by the FCC. We can expect the “Hamburg” moniker will be changed to something else for launch (just like “Venice” was changed to “Priv”). This device is expected to be mid-range. The only official detail we have via the FCC documents is that it will have a 2,610 mAh battery. Other specs, according to GFXBench, include a 5.2-inch 1920 x 1080 full HD display, octacore Snapdragon 615 processor, Adreno 405 CPU, 3GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. It’s predicted that the Hamburg will have a price tag around $400.
Although there are less details surrounding the BlackBerry Rome, it’s also expected to be a mid-range device and feature a physical keyboard.
I like having BlackBerry around, even if they’ve shifted focus from their own software. Between BlackBerry’s devices, and now Google’s Nexus line, these two brands are arguably the pinnacle for security on Android. But as I mentioned earlier, security and privacy, despite being a pretty big deal, don’t actually seem to be a big concern for your average consumer – or if it is, they’re trusting of other brands enough not to seek something different out. Between that and BlackBerry being seemingly out of touch with competitive pricing for Android devices, I’m not sure if these two new BlackBerry Androids will have any better success than the Priv did.
Then again, most of this is rumor at this point. If the pricing is more appropriate than the Priv at launch, I could see this being a good thing for BlackBerry.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think BlackBerry will ever make it big with Android? What are your initial thoughts on the BlackBerry Hamburg rumors? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!