What is a BlackBerry phone and how have BlackBerry mobiles changed over the years? Here’s a quick glimpse at the history of BlackBerry, our pick of the best recent BlackBerry phones and how the future is shaping up.
BlackBerry, once known as Research In Motion (RIM), is an Ontario-based smartphone company who started back in 1984 by manufacturing pagers. In the years since then we’ve seen a huge selection of BlackBerry phones released to a global market.
Characterised by their physical keyboards, secure software and of course the BlackBerry Messenger app (BBM for short), these handsets quickly propelled RIM to the top of its market. They proved popular with business folk and consumers alike, until the release of Apple’s iPhone changed everything.
Here’s all you need to know about BlackBerry’s beginnings and back catalogue.
BlackBerry phones rise to fame under RIM
At the turn of the millennium, RIM launched its first BlackBerry mobile phone. This kicked off an impressive surge in sales, as BlackBerry handsets became the device of choice for millions. It’s not hard to see why, as they were reliable, operated on a secure network, could be managed en-masse by a business’s IT department and offered excellent battery life to boot.
Popular models include the Bold series and the Curve series, each of which featured several different models.
The BlackBerry decline
In 2007, Apple released the iPhone and changed the mobile phone game for good. Although BlackBerry originally dismissed the iPhone as a strange little gimmick, both consumers and businesses turned to Apple’s subsequent releases and ditched BB in the process.
BlackBerry floundered at the same time, releasing duds such as the Storm and the Torch to a much more competitive market. Even a name change from RIM to BlackBerry and the release of its very own updated BB10 operating system couldn’t help matters – especially as the first BB10 handset, the BlackBerry Q10, was frankly a bit glitchy and pants.
Even stranger was the BlackBerry Passport, a square monstrosity that proved an utter ergonomic nightmare. Post-2011, the company saw its market share slashed, as Android and iOS came to power. While the company reported over 80 million global users in 2012, this figure was slashed in half come 2015. Things looked pretty bleak.
Read our full in-depth feature about the downfall of BlackBerry for all you need to know.
The Blackberry Android era
In recent times, BlackBerry has gone in a completely different direction. Ditching the much maligned BB10 OS for Google’s Android OS and shaking up the mobile hardware significantly gave us some truly unique handsets.
First came the BlackBerry Priv in 2015, easily one of the best Blackberry phones of the last few years, if not all time. That Android support really opened up the mobile experience, while BB’s own tweaks and bonus features such as Blackberry Hub and DTEK security suite made for a solid user experience. The premium specs, dependable camera and hidden-away QWERTY keyboard meant the Priv was a serious rival to the best Androids around, and a clear indicator that the company wasn’t done for just yet.
Next up were the rather oddly-named DTEK50 and DTEK60 handsets. These phones offered the same blend of BB features and Android OS, with a choice of specs depending on which model you chose. However, gone was the physical keyboard; good thing the BlackBerry virtual board is so good, then.
So far in 2017, we’ve only seen the launch of a single BlackBerry phone: the KEYOne. This handset brought back the much-loved physical QWERTY keyboard, stuck on permanent view beneath a square(ish) 4.5-inch screen. You once again get the same great user experience and plenty of great features, all wrapped up in a smart business-like frame. However, many similarly-priced rivals boast better performance and more compact design, as well as smarter camera tech.
Despite these changes, BlackBerry now just has 11 million global users according to the latest stats. A number which has been falling without fail since 2013.
So where will BlackBerry go from here? Only time will tell, although we’ll be covering all of the new BB phones and other updates right here on Recombu.