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BlackBerry Priv will land on Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile

BlackBerry CEO confirms its exclusivity deal with AT&T has expired and that every major US carrier will sell the Android-powered phone.

The Priv will be easier for you physical-keyboard holdouts to find.
Jason Cipriani/CNET

This story is part of CES 2016. Our editors bring you complete CES 2016 coverage and scour the showroom floor for the hottest new tech gadgets around.

BlackBerry's Android-powered Priv phone will soon be a lot easier to buy.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen on Wednesday confirmed that Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint will sell its flagship phone. He declined to specify timing, preferring to leave it up to the carriers.

The Priv, which launched in November, was previously exclusive to AT&T in the US.

The added distribution means that BlackBerry fans -- the few of you who have clung on to the idea that physical keyboards on phones are still superior to touchscreens -- will have more ways to buy the Priv.

He teased that T-Mobile CEO John Legere, who once feuded with Chen, would make his announcement on Twitter. Legere told CNET in November that he thought BlackBerry was on a "comeback."

With the partners in place, Chen expressed his optimism over the phone business.

"We can make money in devices, and I think we're close," Chen said at a small, but packed press conference room at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

There has been a lot of talk about whether the Canadian company, which once towered over the smartphone world, would even stay in the business, with Chen previously saying he would dump it if it didn't make money. He defended the comment, noting that he would sound crazy if he insisted on staying in the business no matter what.

It's easy to see why you would be skeptical. BlackBerry sold a total of 700,000 handsets in the last reported quarter, about half the number from a year ago. BlackBerry 10 phones haven't sold well.

The Priv was BlackBerry's way of addressing the lack of apps available on the company's BlackBerry 10 software. By using Google's Android software, it had access to the same huge library of programs and games as phones from the likes of Samsung and LG.

T-Mobile said it will start selling Priv on January 26. Verizon expects to start selling the Priv by the end of March, if not sooner. Sprint did not immediately respond to a request for its selling date.

Updated at 2:51 pm. PT with information on when Verizon plans to sell the Priv.