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With so many leaks of upcoming products, it’s hard to get excited about new devices, especially as most are seen and talked about a long time before they become anything near a physical device.

The BlackBerry Venice, however, is different. Although it’s been leaked a few months ahead of its upcoming release, the handset has been received as a shock. No one had predicted that BlackBerry would create a Galaxy S6 Edge-style handset, running Android, with a slide-out physical keyboard.

We’ve already been treated to renders, a leak of the physical handset and our own hands on video and the BlackBerry Venice is certainly interesting. But for me, the Venice is more than just interesting. It’s exciting! Here are five reasons why!

The design

Until recently, the Galaxy S6 Edge was my daily driver and the BlackBerry Venice brings that same dual-edged design that is so unique on Samsung’s curved device. While Samsung didn’t do too much with the edge screen, I’m hoping that BlackBerry (or other developers), will find a way to use that screen to its full potential.

The curved edge will also make the handset easier to hold in the hand, which when considering it will have a slide out keyboard, is certainly a welcome improvement. The design will also stand out amongst a crowd of otherwise mostly-uninspiring smartphone designs.

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That keyboard

There’s nothing quite like a physical keyboard and BlackBerry pretty much has one of the best keyboards in the smartphone market. That’s not saying much when you think about the lack of devices with physical devices, but I am still happy to see BlackBerry bringing the thing that is best known for to the Android world.

Having used a BlackBerry Passport (albeit briefly), the keyboard was certainly unique and the BlackBerry Venice has a similar keyboard. The Passport – which ran on BlackBerry’s own BB10 operating system – is widely accepted as offering an excellent typing experience and the Venice should hopefully offer the same.

As revealed in our hands-on, the keyboard comes with a touch-sensitive layer that supports gestures, such as being able to scroll up or down a page with a swipe on the keypad. It’s unknown if there’s anything further it can do but the possibilities are (hopefully) endless: as discussed in the podcast, imagine being able to simply swipe across the physical keys to draw out a word, in a similar way to the Swype/Flow feature found in on-screen keyboards.

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BlackBerry Venice AA 2

BlackBerry Hub

If there’s one thing I do miss about my days of using BlackBerry devices and the BB10 OS, it’s BlackBerry Hub; the hub acts as a single notification centre and lets you view notifications from email, calendars, instant messengers, social apps and a lot more in one single place.

From viewing a timeline of notifications (even after you’ve already read them) to replying from a single screen and even publishing new emails or tweets, BlackBerry Hub is by far the best notification centre across any mobile device. A key part of the BlackBerry experience, I can’t wait to see it running on the BlackBerry Venice.

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Forcing innovation

It’s fair to say that innovation in mobile generally comes in cycles, and this year has been very slow

For BlackBerry, bringing back the keyboard could be an experiment that has the potential to pay off. But a successful Venice could have a positive effect on an industry that desperately needs differentiation. If the handset does gain significant demand and exposure, it’s likely we’ll see other companies thinking about innovating with moving parts in their devices and this can only be a good thing.

Look back to the last decade and there’s one thing that’s certainly clear: manufacturers were a lot more imaginative back in the day. Currently, OEMs can innovate with design but handsets are all candy-bar devices with large touch screens (and very little else). Imagine what introducing moving parts, unique designs and physical aspects, with today’s level of reliability and quality, could do to the industry as a whole.

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A possible BlackBerry comeback

Think back to your first mobile phone and chances are, it was made by either Nokia, Motorola or Research in Motion (RIM), which renamed itself to BlackBerry in 2013. While the first two companies have met with darker ends, BlackBerry is still alive and kicking (just).

I profess to being a fan of the BlackBerry keyboard in the past but issues delivering BlackBerry 10 was pretty much the final straw in an otherwise problematic relationship. That being said, far too many companies are producing smartphones that are soulless and almost identical to other devices and I’d love to see someone create unique smartphones again.

BlackBerry Venice rumor roundup (updated on September 19)

Just because we’re now in a smart era doesn’t mean that innovation has to die and while there’s still a lot of questions surrounding things like the camera, battery life and software, I’m excited about the BlackBerry Venice. Are you? Vote in the poll and let us know your views in the comments below guys!