One of the weirdest little pocket devices in 2015 is Blackberry’s still “rumored” Venice, a slider smartphone with physical keys running near stock Android. With a new hands on video with an evaluation unit of Blackberry’s new smartphone Frankenstein, Baka Mobile’s brief four-minute tour shows off some cool stuff.
My favorite feature (aside from it running Android)? The capacitive touchpad embedded under the keyboard. This means those hardware keys aren’t just for typing. They can also scroll, much like the keyboard on last year’s Passport.
The Venice also has more hardware +1’s, including a huge front-facing speaker on the bottom—right where a speaker should be.
The software also has a few pleasant surprises. For one, it looks near stock Android—with a few exceptions. To take advantage of the scroll-enabled keyboard, the app drawer swipes down/up instead of left/right. Also, a long press on the app drawer icon brings up Google service but also Blackberry Hub and Universal Search.
Overall, it seems like a thankfully minimal and elegant mesh of Blackberry and Android, which refrains from sticking on some god awful skin that makes your face want to melt like a Nazi opening the ark of the covenant.
It’s worth remembering that this is an evaluation unit so things could look different at launch—for better or worse—but I’m going to remain skeptically optimistic. Slider phones? 2015? Who knew.