Second BlackBerry Android Phone Leaked, Priv Sales Appear Solid
Interest in BlackBerry's first Android smartphone -- the privacy- and security-focused Priv [pictured, left] -- appears to be strong since the device became available for pre-ordering in late October. Originally set to begin shipping on November 6, the Priv is now set to go out to customers starting November 30, according to BlackBerry's online store.
As of today, the Priv was available on Amazon only from third-party sellers, indicating that the Canadian company could have a much-needed, fast-selling device on its hands. BlackBerry watchers are speculating that more such devices could be on the way, as CEO John Chen recently said in a televised interview about the Priv that the company plans "a range of products after this."
In fact, yesterday BlackBerry fan site CrackBerry published images of what it said was the company's second Android smartphone. Reportedly code-named "Vienna," [pictured, right] the phone appears to feature a physical keyboard on the front, as opposed to the Priv's slide-out physical keyboard. BlackBerry did not respond to our request for a comment on either Priv sales or future Android phones.
'Quickly Expanding Portfolio'
Another sign that more Android BlackBerry phones may be on the way came in comments made today by Gallant Leon, managing director for the company in north Asia. Leon made his comments as BlackBerry announced mid-November availability of the Priv in Hong Kong.
"For the first time, users will have the best of BlackBerry while enjoying the access and flexibility of Android," Leon said. "This step shouldn't be a surprise as we've been quickly expanding BlackBerry's product portfolio across all operating system platforms -- as we have done with BES12, BBM messaging and the rest of our enterprise software and services portfolio."
Priced starting at $699 in the U.S., the Priv is clearly aimed at a niche audience of enterprise users who want BlackBerry-style security but prefer Android devices. Early reviews of the Priv have so far trended positive; on Amazon, 13 of 16 customer reviewers have given the device five out of five stars.
BlackBerry could use a boost in sales, as its operating system has fallen to fifth place globally, according to the latest market report from the research firm Strategy Analytics. The BlackBerry OS now sits behind Android, iOS, Windows and Tizen.
The Priv features a 5.4-inch OLED display with a pixel density of 540 PPI -- "4x the amount of pixels of a standard HDTV," according to BlackBerry. It's powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor and offers 32 GB of onboard memory, along with support for up to 2 TB of additional memory via micro SD cards.
It also supports Google's Android for Work environment and can be integrated with BlackBerry's own EMM (enterprise mobility management) offering, BES 12. However, a review in Ars Technica today faulted the device for shipping with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop instead of the new version of the OS, Marshmallow.
As part of its "cross-platform strategy to provide a greater choice of secure solutions to its customers, users will see a seamless merging of key BlackBerry 10 productivity features like the BlackBerry Hub and BlackBerry Calendar into Priv," the company said today. However, Blackberry said it remains committed to the BlackBerry 10 operating system, and will continue to release platform updates focused on security and privacy enhancements.