AT&T to Offer BlackBerry's Priv Android Smartphone Starting Nov. 6

The Priv is a security-focused BlackBerry phone that for the first time uses a non-BlackBerry operating system to try to widen its appeal.

BlackBerry Priv, smartphones, Android 5.1, BlackBerry security, mobile phones, mobile security, Android phone, AT&T

BlackBerry's first-ever Android phone, the Priv, will be available through AT&T Nov. 6, starting at $249.99 with a two-year contract.

The Priv, which features a 5.4-inch curved glass display, a 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexa-core processor and 3GB of RAM, can also be leased from AT&T under its no-money-down Next plans, according to a Nov. 2 announcement. The Priv will lease for $37 a month under a Next 12 plan for 20 months (total $740) , for $30.84 for 24 months under a Next 18 plan (total $740.16) or for $24.67 for 30 months under a Next 24 plan (total $740.10).

The Priv also includes a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and a touch-screen display, as well as an 18-megapixel rear-facing camera with a special Schneider-Kreuznach lens and dual flash, a front-facing 5MP camera, 32GB of onboard storage, a microSD slot that accepts cards up to 2TB for expanded storage and a 3,410mAh battery. The handset runs on Android 5.1, and its display is covered with protective Corning Gorilla Glass 4.

The key focus of the Priv smartphone is its inclusion of high-end enterprise security features that have been found in BlackBerry devices for years. Even the name of the phone is an abbreviation of the word "privacy."

The handset has been built on a new platform, called DTEK, that will warn users if they are being spied upon, according to an earlier eWEEK report. DTEK is a warning system built into an app that will help users determine which apps are accessing their private data. In addition to DTEK, users will find Android for Work integration, sandboxing and embedded crypto keys at every layer to secure the handset.

While BlackBerry has offered access to Android apps through Amazon's Appstore in BlackBerry 10, the new Priv comes will full support for Google's Play apps marketplace, giving users all of the apps they would expect to find in a mobile marketplace.

"You can finally have everything you loved about BlackBerry with the capabilities of Android OS," Jeff Bradley, senior vice president of device marketing and developer services at AT&T Mobility, said in a statement. "This smartphone is a powerhouse with sleek design, seamless productivity, and advanced security features on the nation's most reliable 4G LTE network."

The Priv was announced by BlackBerry in September in hopes that it will help the company reclaim some of its hardware market share that it has lost to Android phones and Apple's iPhones. Rumors about a BlackBerry Android phone had been swirling since June, when reports began circulating that the company would unveil an enterprise-aimed device with a sliding keyboard like some smartphones from the past. BlackBerry, which has stood fast with its own operating system for its products for years, is making a huge shift by releasing an Android phone, but it is in a position of having to try something new to remain relevant as a smartphone maker.

BlackBerry posted fiscal 2016 second-quarter non-GAAP revenue of $491 million in September, down 47 percent from $916 million in the same quarter a year earlier. For the latest quarter, which ended Aug. 29, BlackBerry reported a non-GAAP loss of $66 million after adjustments, which resulted in a loss of 13 cents per share.