Almost as soon as the BlackBerry Priv - the company's first Android phone - launched in 2015, there were rumours circulating about another Android-powered smartphone. At the time it was codenamed Vienna, which made complete sense following on from the Priv which was code-named Venice. 

Since then, the phone was referred to with codename Rome, and more recently, Mercury. In all likeliness, the phone will be called the DTEK70, following on in the numbering sequence of the currently official BlackBerry-branded Android phones.

Saying that, even during an early preview with TCL at CES this year, the company hasn't referred to it as anything concrete. 

In true BlackBerry style, the Mercury/DTEK70 looks to offer a physical keyboard, a uniquely BlackBerry offering when paired with the Android operating system.

Unlike classic BlackBerry handsets the screen won't be square but adopt a more regular touchscreen aspect. Venture Beat's report on the new BlackBerry phones suggested it won't be the usual widescreen 16:9 ratio, but rather a 3:2 ratio display. In other words: get ready for some heavy letter-boxing on your videos. 

Pocket-lintP1270308 copy

As well as having a slightly shorter display, it's claimed to measure just 4.5-inches diagonally but still pack in a panel with full HD resolution. Given that 1080p looks great on full-size 5.5-inch screens, the smaller display on the DTEK70 should be very crisp. 

While we haven't got a handle on all the details of the Mercury, we do have a fairly good idea about its design, build and styling. That's thanks to getting our hands on it in an early preview. 

Unlike the Priv, the DTEK70 doesn't have a sliding display, and won't look like a traditional candybar all-touch device either. Instead, it resembles a stretched out version of the Silver Edition BlackBerry Passport.

Pocket-lintP1270324 copy

Like traditional BlackBerry phones, and unlike the Priv, the DTEK70 also has metal frets in between the four rows of keys on the physical keyboard. This helps space out the keys to make typing easier, as well as giving it a solid feel. Above the keys, below the display, there's the traditional Android trio of capacitive buttons. 

As you'd expect, the keys are sculpted to make them easier to type on and, surprisingly, the space bar doubles as a home button and fingerprint scanner. 

Ahead of CES 2017, Steve Cistulli, the president and GM of TCL teased the upcoming phone's announcement, virtually confirming everything that had been rumoured about the phone's design before it became semi-official. 

According to the earliest mock-ups from CrackBerry it seemed like BlackBerry would release four colour variants: silver, grey, green and red. Sadly, between then and now, BlackBerry decided to stick with the combination that served so well on the Silver Edition Passport. It even has the textured black plastic back which feels great. 

The frame is really well rounded, giving it a comfortable in-hand feel, and the volume rocker and Convenience Key are pretty low down, and easy to reach. Like Alcatels though, the power button is way out of reach on the top left corner. 

Pocket-lintP1270317 copy

The DTEK70 also has a fairly industrial looking top panel, above the screen, which looks very similar to the Passport Silver Edition. That means that, although it looks nicely curved around the edges and on the bottom, the top is completely flat and angular.

This top edge features just a 3.5mm jack, while the bottom edge plays home to the Type-C port and the two grilles which cover the microphone and loudspeaker. 

On the whole, it feels big, but the styling and material choices mean it doesn't feel out of balance, and it does feel very well built. 

During our preview, BlackBerry didn't confirm any specifications of the upcoming QWERTY phone, so all we have to go on so far is rumour. 

A report from Venture Beat states that the BlackBerry DTEK70 will be equipped with a mid-tier Snapdragon 625 processor, as well as 3GB RAM and 32GB storage. This rumour was backed up by an entry on Geekbench, the benchmark testing website, showing exactly those specifications.

Pocket-lintP1270322 copy

Of course, that isn't confirmed yet, but if true it definitely won't be the flagship of BlackBerry's future product lineup. With that said, it will be the most BlackBerry-like BlackBerry the company has launched since the Classic a couple of years ago, and the first "proper" BlackBerry running Android. 

The Geekbench listing also indicated that it will launch running Android 7.0 Nougat, making it the first BlackBerry device to be loaded with the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. 

Going against those rumours, a recent post on Chinese blog GizmoChina, suggests it might end up being a fully-fledged flagship with a Snapdragon 821 processor.

Pocket-lintP1270316 copy

It's also rumoured to feature a huge 3,400mAh battery. With those specs, the smaller screen and modern Android software, we'd be incredibly surprised if it couldn't last two days on a single charge.

There's no word on whether or not there's any Quick Charge support, but with a phone that big and the Type-C port, we suggest that it would need something to fill it up quickly. 

Recent reports have claimed that we should expect to see an 18-megapixel rear camera in the DTEK70, similar to the Priv which - although not incredible - was easily the best camera we'd seen in a BlackBerry up until that point. The front camera is likely to be 8-megapixels. 

The mock-ups show an LED flash on the rear and also reveal a front-facing camera.

BlackBerry's next QWERTY-equipped smartphone is due to land at some point in the first quarter of 2017. TCL - the company which now makes BlackBerry phones - previewed the phone at CES in Las Vegas, but will share more details at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the end of February. In a tweet shared recently, the company revealed that it will be announcing the device officially on 25 February. 

At that stage we should have every detail about the device to hand, along with official pricing and release dates. 

Prices are difficult to guess, early rumours suggested around $500 USD, which would suggest a price around the £400 mark in UK.

If it's not a high-end device it's unlikely to cost anywhere near the £580 price point of the Priv. Looking at the specifications, it's probably a safe guess to assume it'll be priced somewhere between the £275 BlackBerry DTEK50 and £480 DTEK60. That is unless it comes with a Snapdragon 821 chip, in which case, it might be approaching true flagship pricing. 

We'll be keeping an eye on all the rumours surrounding the BlackBerry Mercury (DTEK70) and updating as we learn more. You can follow all the news and reviews on the BlackBerry hub!

READ: Blackberry Mercury preview: Fingerprint scanner and QWERTY keyboard for BB’s next flagship