BlackBerry's new Android phone shows off its slide-out QWERTY keyboard in leaked image

Like Microsoft, BlackBerry has been struggling in the face of increasingly intense competition in the smartphone market in recent years. After unsuccessfully attempting to reverse its decline by adding Android app support to its BB10 operating system, it seems BlackBerry will ditch its own OS completely on its next flagship phone, in favor of Google's offering.

Known by its development codename, 'Venice', the new BlackBerry handset was pictured clearly for the first time last month, in a render revealed by semi-retired leaker Evan Blass, better known as @evleaks - and today, he shared another image of the device on Twitter.

The render is clearly from the same series as the earlier leak, but this one goes further in offering an unobstructed view of the handset's slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Given how slim the device appeared in the previous render, not everyone was convinced by claims that it included an integrated hardware keyboard, but many of those doubts will surely be silenced after seeing this latest image.

The render above appears to show that BlackBerry's Android implementation will be pretty close to the 'stock' OS, with few obvious customizations. However, like other Android manufacturers, the company is likely to pre-load some of its own software and OS customizations - for example, to take advantage of its Galaxy S6 edge-style display, which curves around both the left and right edges of the device.

In another tweet, @evleaks shared an image highlighting a handful of the device's capabilities, which also refers to Google Play services. But it's also worth noting that while it will apparently include full Google Play support, the device's homescreen appears to show that some Microsoft services will be pre-installed too, including Bing and Skype.

Evan also said that the handset will be sold on all four of America's top carriers - AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint - with a release planned for November.

Curiously, one of the images he shared today appears to indicate that the Venice will ship with Android 5.x Lollipop onboard, rather than the newer Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which will officially launch before the end of next month. However, it seems likely that this is simply 'old' artwork using placeholder images, and that the device will actually go on sale with Marshmallow.

That's not certain, of course - and indeed, there's plenty we still don't know for sure about the new device. But while we wait to find out more about it, it seems fair to say that BlackBerry's new Android flagship is shaping up rather nicely.

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