It’s now all but official: BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB)(NASDAQ:BBRY) will soon be releasing a handset powered by the Android operating system. The device was spotted at the Toronto International Film Festival, and pictures have surfaced online.

The device has been named “Venice” and reports indicate that BlackBerry will be releasing it in November. We take a look at what to expect below.

A final attempt

BlackBerry’s failures in the smartphone world are well documented. At this point, many observers think the company should exit the handset business altogether, or at least stop marketing its products to everyday consumers.

There are certainly reason for pessimism. Because of BlackBerry’s struggles, fewer developers are willing to make applications for the company’s phones. This causes sales to fall further, accelerating a vicious cycle. In response, the company’s phones now run Android applications too, but this is only a partial solution.

So, the Venice is really BlackBerry’s last chance at the consumer smartphone market. It will certainly be a valiant attempt as all four major U.S. carriers will be offering the handset, and it should be launched just before Christmas.

Reasons for optimism

The Venice solves BlackBerry’s major problem, which is the lack of available applications for its phones. And there are a couple of big advantages the Venice has over the competition.

To start, the phone will feature a slide-out keyboard, which will allow users to type out text messages and emails more rapidly than on touchscreen-only devices.

Venice’s other big advantage is BlackBerry’s best-in-class security capabilities, which have only grown in importance with today’s cyber-security threats. It’s especially relevant for people who wish to use their personal handsets at the office as well.

Don’t get your hopes too high

Despite the Venice’s advantages, it is also facing a big uphill battle. To understand why, one only has to take a look at the “Top 10 Smartphone Purchase Drivers,” a 2014 IDC survey.

According to the survey, the 10 key factors for smartphone customers (in decreasing order of importance) are battery life, ease of use, operating system, touch screen, screen size, type of network, brand, weight/size, camera resolution, and web browsing speed. Unfortunately for BlackBerry, security is not one of the factors mentioned.

And there are some items on that list where BlackBerry is still particularly weak. Most notable is the company’s tarnished brand. The Venice may also struggle in the weight/size category because of the slide-out keyboard.

What this means for BlackBerry

Here’s the good news for BlackBerry’s shareholders: the company’s fate will not be determined by its (lack of) success in the handset market. Of course, what really matters is the Enterprise Mobility Management market, where BlackBerry has focused its business.

That being the case, you should still be very cautious before buying the shares. The company has a damaged brand, and the effect of poor brands is often overlooked by investors. Your best bet is to look elsewhere.

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Fool contributor Benjamin Sinclair has no position in any stocks mentioned.