For a long while now, BlackBerry has been the butt of jokes in the smartphone world. The Canadian pioneer introduced the world to smartphones, but fell behind the trend over the years. That story has been told many times.

The company had hoped BlackBerry 10 would be their saving grace, but that has unfortunately, not worked out so well for them. Their latest – and maybe last – hope will be the still unannounced Android slider codename Venice.

It’s a risky move for BlackBerry to go with another OS, but with all these rumors coming out, it’s actually made a lot of noise for the Waterloo-based manufacturer, and for good reason too. Here are five reasons why we think it’ll be one of the best Android devices this year.

1. BlackBerry’s productivity tools are coming to Android


BlackBerry’s software focus has always been around productivity. When you look at how BlackBerry 10 was developed, that’s the underlying theme throughout the OS. The placement of the Hub and other key components were specifically thought out to help the end user get more done.

With Android, BlackBerry can’t control as much of the software, but they can still bring a lot of their most useful tools to the platform as individual apps. Sure, BlackBerry purists will hate the idea of the BlackBerry Hub being just another app, but for Android users that have never experienced it, this conglomeration of so many email and social media accounts in one place is just unheard of. Add to that the fully-featured BlackBerry calendar, and other apps, and you’re getting an experience that is unmatched in the Android world.

Check out the BlackBerry Productivity Suite on the Venice Slider in the leaked video here.

2. BlackBerry’s hardware is still top of the line


One of the things people miss the most about their BlackBerry devices is how solid they felt in the hand. While software hasn’t been the company’s strong suit in the past few years, BlackBerry’s hardware design and implementation has stayed at incredibly high levels. When you add to that the power and popularity of Android, well you’ve made a pretty solid package available for public.

Many Android OEMs have stepped up their game in this area, there’s no doubt about that. Samsung has put out its best devices in years in 2015, and others like HTC, LG, Sony and Motorola have improved on already successful designs.

BlackBerry can bring the focus back to not only hardware in terms of specs, but how it can help you get more stuff done, and be more efficient at it in the process. That begins and ends with a one of a kind hardware aspect: the sliding keyboard.


3. No one else can pull off a Slider


BlackBerry won’t be the first Android OEM to add a physical keyboard to a phone, but they’ll be the best at it. We’ve already seen the Venice’s keyboard in action, and how it behaves like a trackpad for scrolling like the Passport’s keyboard before it.

That’s innovative, useful, and can easily be a selling point for anyone debating between two or three devices. Not only have they added this nifty feature to the keyboard, but you can pretty much bank on the fact that the typing experience in general on this Slider will be a thing of beauty. You won’t have to sacrifice any screen real estate for it either, and once you don’t need it, just slide it back up and keep on working.

The smartphone world could also use a shake up in 2015. Sure, we’re seeing some fantastic devices debut every other week it seems, but they all have the same 5.5-inch and up display and the same form factor that’s been around for years. Having BlackBerry, of all companies, introduce this new style of smartphone right now could not be a better decision. In a stale world of candy bar phones, maybe a keyboard can set a new norm.

4. Apps, apps, apps, and more apps


BlackBerry 10 has its strong suits, but the app gap that has plagued this ecosystem for years still exists. Every review of every BlackBerry 10 device ever written had to mention somewhere that a lot of big time apps were missing. This was the case even after the Amazon Appstore deal was struck, and APKs were able to be installed natively. It’s been a pain point for BlackBerry and potential customers for a long time… until now.

The BlackBerry Venice will be the first ever BlackBerry device that you won’t have to wonder if you can run a certain app on it or not. The fact that it comes equipped with Android Lollipop (and we’re assuming Marshmallow later on) out of the box and support Google Play and its services, opens up a world that was never possible on a BlackBerry. You always had to sacrifice something in the apps department to get a BlackBerry. With the Venice, that’s no longer the case.

5. Security on Android?

BlackBerry CEO John Chen has publicly said that the only way his company would make an Android device is if they figured out a way to secure it. Well, it looks like they’ve done something about that, and it’ll be interesting to see exactly how secure they were able to make the Venice.

Other OEMs like Samsung, and even Google themselves are putting the focus back on security and privacy, and even though it’s a difficult task to achieve on an open source platform, maybe BlackBerry figured out how to raise the bar even higher in this aspect.

While the hype behind BlackBerry’s first Android device is growing, the company has to make sure the execution behind this phone is about as perfect as possible. BlackBerry may have just one bullet left in the chamber, and aiming it at Android could prove to be fatal or its saving grace. Better not miss.