Flashback: goodbye, BlackBerry, and thanks for all the keyboards


Earlier this week we waved goodbye to the traditional BlackBerry units – all those that got here earlier than the model’s pivot to Android stopped engaged on January 4 2022. They can not entry the Web, ship messages or make calls, not even to emergency companies.

That is the top of a legacy that stretches again over twenty years with the earliest BlackBerry messengers. Their {hardware} QWERTY keyboards, superior on the spot messaging and severe enterprise angle made them fairly fashionable within the early noughties.

Flashback: goodbye, BlackBerry, and thanks for all the keyboards

Whereas they supported apps, they’d hassle adapting to the brand new smartphone period. BlackBerry made some enhancements, however they weren’t sufficient to maintain up with iOS and Android. Because the saying goes “if you cannot beat them, be a part of them”. And that is simply what occurred as the corporate made the swap to Android, finally handing off the {hardware} particulars to TCL.

Earlier than that occurred got here BlackBerry 10 – a model new OS developed with contact help in thoughts. We already regarded on the BlackBerry Z10 that launched the brand new OS to the world and that omitted the trademark function of the telephones, their keyboard. That was a giant step because the keyboard is the place the title “BlackBerry” got here from – the attribute form of the keys was paying homage to the druplets of a blackberry.

Flashback: goodbye, BlackBerry, and thanks for all the keyboards

It wasn’t the primary time this was tried – bear in mind the BlackBerry Storm? The corporate was eager to protect the haptic suggestions of actual keys, so it mounted the show on the so-called SurePress tech, which made the show clicky. Having the entire show as one giant bodily button felt bizarre and did not work in addition to anticipated.

It did not assist that BlackBerry 5, an OS designed for trackball navigation, simply did not play effectively with contact enter (the identical factor occurred to Symbian). Subsequent got here the Storm 2, which eliminated the bodily button and tried to faux the clicky feeling, however this additionally did not to draw optimistic consideration from would-be patrons.


BlackBerry Storm 9500
BlackBerry Storm2 9520
BlackBerry Torch 9850
BlackBerry Torch 9850

BlackBerry Storm 9500 • BlackBerry Storm2 9520 • BlackBerry Torch 9850 • BlackBerry Torch 9850

A few years later the corporate tried one other method – the Daring Contact collection stored the {hardware} QWERTY keyboard, however added contact help to the show. These ran BlackBerry OS 7, the final model that was a part of the unique lineage. However even with this one the touchscreen was underutilized. Not that the two.8″ panorama show may provide the identical versatility because the all-touch smartphones of 2011. There have been a couple of extra all-touch fashions from the Curve and Torch collection, however they did not strike it large both.


BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900
BlackBerry Torch 9810
BlackBerry Curve 9380
BlackBerry Torch 9860

BlackBerry Daring Contact 9900 • BlackBerry Torch 9810 • BlackBerry Curve 9380 • BlackBerry Torch 9860

With model 7 a useless finish, the corporate centered its consideration on BlackBerry Pill OS. It was primarily based on the recently-acquired QNX and was designed for touch-only operation. As you possibly can guess from the title, it made its debut on a pill in 2010, the BlackBerry Playbook, particularly.

Aside from a 3G model in 2011 (by no means thoughts the “4G” within the title, HSPA is 3G) and a correct 4G LTE model in 2012, BlackBerry by no means made one other pill. However the pill OS lived on, at the very least partially.


BlackBerry Playbook
BlackBerry Playbook Wimax
BlackBerry 4G Playbook HSPA+
BlackBerry 4G LTE Playbook

BlackBerry Playbook • Playbook Wimax • 4G Playbook HSPA+ • 4G LTE Playbook

The BlackBerry 10 OS that we talked about earlier, the one which arrived with the Z10, was additionally primarily based on QNX and improved on concepts from the Pill OS (in actual fact, the Playbooks have been up to date to 10).

Aspect be aware: QNX is a real-time working system, which means it’s appropriate to be used instances that require quick, dependable responses from the software program. Because of this it has been utilized in automotive infotainment methods and even superior driver-assistance methods (ABS, adaptive cruise management and so forth). Ford Sync 3 and 4/4a have been primarily based on QNX.

Anyway, alongside the Z10 got here the BlackBerry Q10 – technically the mid-range providing within the collection, the QWERTY-packing cellphone additionally acted as a again up in case this newest all-touch BlackBerry try failed like earlier than. Just a few months later got here an excellent cheaper model, the Q5.

The top of this collection was the Z30 from late 2013, which added a bigger show (5.0″ AMOLED) in comparison with the Z10, a quicker Snapdragon S4 Professional chipset, bigger battery and different enhancements.


BlackBerry Z10
BlackBerry Q10
BlackBerry Q5
BlackBerry Z30

BlackBerry Z10 • BlackBerry Q10 • BlackBerry Q5 • BlackBerry Z30

We would wish to spend a bit longer on the BlackBerry Passport as a result of this is likely one of the strangest units that the corporate ever made. What number of smartphones with a sq. 1:1 show are you able to consider? We are able to title a couple of (e.g. the Q10 and Q5 above), however none which can be this huge. And with good purpose, at 90.3 mm this cellphone was unbearably giant. What’s even worse is that the 4.5″ show wasn’t even all that large, it had much less floor space than the Galaxy S5 show.


The sizeable BlackBerry Passport
The sizeable BlackBerry Passport
The sizeable BlackBerry Passport

The sizeable BlackBerry Passport

After all, there was a QWERTY keyboard beneath the show. It was fairly extensive, providing you with loads of room for two-thumb typing. However it was additionally “small” within the sense that apart from the 26 letter keys, it solely had House, Enter and Delete. For numbers you needed to depend on the touchscreen. BlackBerry’s phrase suggestion engine was glorious, by the best way, and it used a intelligent trick.

Flashback: goodbye, BlackBerry, and thanks for all the keyboards

The keyboard was touch-sensitive, which means that you can use it as a touchpad transfer the textual content cursor. As for the phrase solutions, you can swipe up on the keyboard beneath the specified suggestion to just accept it.


The numpad was on the screen
Word suggestions
BlackBerry Messenger
BlackBerry Messenger

The numpad was on the display screen • Phrase solutions • BlackBerry Messenger

The Passport was a novel design that enabled – nay, required – two-handed use. It was nearly extra of a pill than a cellphone on this manner. Nonetheless, regardless of that and the intelligent options just like the touch-enabled keyboard, the cellphone did not do effectively in the marketplace.

We wish to have a look at yet another mannequin – the BlackBerry Priv. It was the primary BlackBerry to run Android and in a manner the final BlackBerry. The DTEK50 and DTEK60 that got here the next yr have been co-developed with TCL and for the fashions after that TCL dealt with the {hardware} design and manufacturing by itself (in actual fact, the DTEK60 was a modified model of TCL’s Alcatel Idol 4S).


The BlackBerry Priv was much more reasonable in its design and dimensions
The BlackBerry Priv was much more reasonable in its design and dimensions
The BlackBerry Priv was much more reasonable in its design and dimensions
The BlackBerry Priv was much more reasonable in its design and dimensions

The BlackBerry Priv was rather more cheap in its design and dimensions

Again to the Priv. It was the Passport accomplished proper – it had a 5.4″ AMOLED show with a conventional 16:9 side ratio (vertical) and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. At 77.2 mm it wasn’t precisely slender, however you can maintain and use it with one hand.

Additionally, whereas the BlackBerry 10 OS had help for Android apps, that function by no means labored fairly proper (and also you needed to depend on third-party shops just like the Amazon Appstore). Now operating precise Android (5.1 Lollipop, particularly), the Priv had full entry to the Google Play Retailer. And it had BlackBerry safety and companies, however these now not held the identical enchantment as within the firm’s heyday.


The Priv ran mostly stock Android with some BlackBerry apps ported over
The Priv ran mostly stock Android with some BlackBerry apps ported over
The Priv ran mostly stock Android with some BlackBerry apps ported over
The Priv ran mostly stock Android with some BlackBerry apps ported over

The Priv ran largely inventory Android with some BlackBerry apps ported over

The OS was largely inventory, although the corporate tried to port a number of the greatest options of its defunct OS, together with the BlackBerry Hub. It aggregated calls, texts and BBM messages into one app, however because the world had moved on to WhatsApp and different IM apps, the Hub felt loads much less highly effective and important.

As soon as upon a time, a lot of your colleagues and buddies can be reachable on BBM, the BlackBerry Messenger. However since that was tied to BlackBerry telephones, it suffered from their declining market share. And by 2013 when BBM was launched for iOS and Android, operating on non-BB {hardware} for the primary time, it was already too late – the community impact had collapsed.

The writing was on the wall – BlackBerry and TCL parted methods on the finish of August 2020 and that marked the top of BlackBerry telephones. For now, at the very least. An organization known as Onward Mobility has been promising to make new BlackBerry telephones – with QWERTY keyboards, in fact – however to this point we’ve not seen any precise {hardware} and the anticipated 2021 launch did not come to go.

So, for now we’re left with recollections of the traditional BlackBerry telephones, some glorious, others too unusual to succeed. And the Android-powered BBs, in fact, these nonetheless work, although we will not bear in mind the final time we have seen one in individual.

Leave a Comment