While hopes of a 5G BlackBerry this year have now been dashed, that doesn't mean you should go for an older 'Berry, no matter how good they once were
By Alex Walker-Todd
Once upon a time, a BlackBerry was the only smartphone to be seen with. Nowadays, Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices line the pockets of most in the Western world.
Hardware keyboards, push email and that blinking red LED bring back doe-eyed memories of the mid-2000s, but these days you’d be hard-pressed to find an old-style BlackBerry on sale anywhere, let alone in the hands of someone on the bus.
BlackBerry’s slow decline was largely down to the brand’s inability to adapt to the launch of the iPhone in 2007, so consequently, developers left the platform to build apps for the touchscreens of iOS and then Android, which is where BlackBerry itself eventually ended up, with all of the most recent BlackBerry devices running on Google’s mobile.
In early 2020,
TCL announced that it would no longer manufacture new BlackBerry phones, though said that it would continue to provide support (including customer service and warranties) for existing phones until 31 August 2022, while support for BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry PlayBook OS
ended on 4 January 2022, rendering older devices inoperable.
That was until BlackBerry (the company) cancelled OnwardMobility’s license out of the blue, in early 2022 – the final straw in the startup’s troubled efforts to get its debut smartphone off the ground.
OnwardMobility subsequently announced its closure on 21 February 2022 (see below), thanking fans for their support and explaining that the decision to close without releasing a single product had not been made lightly.
With all this in mind, even though below is a rundown of the most viable BlackBerry devices to pick up right now (based on our reviews), you really should abstain from buying one; unless it’s simply with the intent of owning a piece of mobile history.
The Key LE is, predictably, not as good as the Key2. It is noticeably slower and we missed the capacitive keyboard more than we thought we might.
But it’s a lot less, and it ran better when we disabled the BlackBerry Hub. If you’re a light phone user and must have a physical keyboard on your phone then it’s the cheapest way to get into the game.
BlackBerry’s software is also secure and useful. You should view the Key2 LE as an acceptable mid-range phone.
When it launched, the KEYone was the best BlackBerry phone for years. It (finally) successfully melded classic BlackBerry design with the necessary mix of Android and nostalgia, without going overboard.
However, if you love your iPhone or Samsung, you’ll hate the KEYone and shouldn’t even consider buying it.
At launch, for the first time in a while, the DTEK60 was a BlackBerry we could recommend to the individual consumer. It’s also a business device, but the flexibility of Android means it is versatile enough to be moulded to the needs of both. It marries the Android operating system with robust, easy to use security features and slick design without breaking the bank.
TCL’s subsequent abandonment of its license to produce BlackBerry devices and no promise of support past August 2022 makes even this great ‘Berry hard to recommend in 2022.
The BlackBerry Motion proves a difficult device to rate. It’s too big, and there’s not much to tempt a casual smartphone buyer here aside from outstanding battery life. It is too austere and clunky even in comparison to the KeyOne; not to mention it arrived overpriced – a hangover from the premium leanings of the BlackBerry name.
BlackBerry isn’t a cool brand, but the Motion has a huge battery, a headphone jack and a CPU that will just about cope with what you want it to do besides high-level gaming. If the KeyOne was a comeback, the Motion is just about a solid sequel but there are other newer phones with better specs for half the price.