Once upon a time, BlackBerry phones were so popular, the business and enterprise crowd called them “CrackBerry” devices because they were so addictive. Then the smartphone industry exploded with the launch of the iPhone and the many Android-based handsets over the past decade. BlackBerry tried to keep up with new phones using its own BlackBerry OS, but slowly lost its huge market share to the competition.
Today, the company has completed its transition from a hardware phone and OS business to one that develops security software for businesses. However, it licenses out the BlackBerry name to other smartphone makers to make their own Android-based devices with BlackBerry software installed.
You can still buy a new phone with the classic BlackBerry name, so let’s take a look at the best ones you can currently buy.
Best Keyboard Phone: BlackBerry Key2
After TCL launched the BlackBerry KEYone, with the physical keyboard BlackBerry is known for, fans were hoping for a followup in 2018. TCL didn’t disappoint, releasing the BlackBerry Key2 with a number of improvements.
The keyboard itself got a facelift, with 20 percent larger keys than the KEYone. The new Speed Key is a dedicated key on the bottom-right of the keyboard that lets you quickly jump to any app you’d like, from whatever you might have open. Another improvement is in the rear camera. The Key2 is the first BlackBerry-branded phone to join the dual rear camera trend, with two rear-facing 12MP sensors; one with an f/1.8 aperture and 1.28μm pixels and the other with an f/2.6 aperture and 1μm pixels. There’s also an 8MP front-facing camera.
Like the KEYone, the Key2 has a 4.5-inch LCD display with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a Full HD resolution. Inside, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor and 6GB of RAM, twice the memory of the KEYone. You can also get at least 64GB of onboard storage, although some versions sold outside the U.S. have 128GB of storage. There’s also a 3,500mAh battery inside.
The BlackBerry Key2 has some nice software features as well for the business and enterprise customer. There’s a new Private Locker feature where you can place photos, files, videos, and even applications inside. You can only access this section of the phone with a fingerprint, PIN, or password. There’s also a new Power Center app on the Key2 which will give you detailed information on how apps are draining your battery and what you can do about it. It’ll also analyze your charging behavior, using machine learning to better predict when you’ll run out of juice.
The BlackBerry Key2 is a bit of a niche device, but it will certainly please hardcore BlackBerry phone fans or anyone else who wants a solid smartphone made for business and security. It’s available now on Amazon unlocked for $649.99 and works with GSM wireless carriers, including AT&T and T-Mobile.
- Display: 4.5-inch IPS LCD with 1,620 x 1,080 resolution
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
- RAM: 6GB
- Storage: 64/128GB
- OS: Android 8.1. Oreo
- Camera: two 12MP rear, 8MP front-facing
- Battery: 3,500mAh
- Dimensions and weight: 151.4 x 71.8 x 8.5mm, 180g
- BlackBerry Key2 review
- Blackberry Key2 specs
- BlackBerry Key2 vs KEYone: differences
- BlackBerry Key2 cases
Runner up: Blackberry Key2 LE
A few months after the BlackBerry Key2 launched, TCL released the Key2 LE. It’s shorter and lighter than its bigger brother, but the Key2 LE still has a 4.5-inch display and a physical keyboard with buttons that are 10 percent smaller than those found on the standard Key2. The body of the Key2 LE is made of polycarbonate plastic, which helps makes it 30 percent lighter than the Key2.
You also get a slower processor inside with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 chip, along with just 4GB of RAM, storage options of 32GB and 64GB, and a smaller 3,000mAh battery. Finally, the Key2 LE still has two rear cameras, but they are 13MP and 5 MP, instead of the dual 12MP sensors found on the standard Key2.
The BlackBerry Key2 LE is available on Amazon for $450 in slate (gray) and champagne (gold) colors.
Best Slider: BlackBerry Priv
The next phone in our best BlackBerry phones list is the Priv. It is one of the last phones that was fully designed and made by BlackBerry, and was also the very first phones from the company to use Android instead of its own operating system. Launched in 2015, it remains one of the more unique Android phones you can buy. Not only does it have a physical keyboard, but it actually slides out from under the Priv’s main screen.
This design, even with the sliding keyboard, is still pretty slim. The QWERTY keyboard itself is clearly meant to be used by power owners of the Priv who want the full BlackBerry experience, but if you don’t need it, you can simply slide the display down and use the large 5.4-inch Quad HD display. It also has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor, clocked at 1.8 GHz, along with 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of onboard storage. There’s also a large 18MP rear camera, a small 2MP front-facing camera, a 3,410mAh battery, and of course you also get BlackBerry’s security and business software pre-installed.
The BlackBerry Priv was launched with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box, and later got an update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. If you decide to get this phone, be aware BlackBerry does not plan to update the OS anymore, so you won’t be able to upgrade it to Android 7.0 Nougat or 8.0 Oreo. Amazon is currently selling the Priv unlocked for $266. Is it still worth it? Maybe. It’s actually just as fast as the KeyOne, but with aging software, security concerns might make it a no-go for many.
- Display: 5.4-inch Quad HD resolution
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 32GB
- OS: Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
- Camera: 18MP rear, 2MP front-facing
- Battery: 3,410mAh
- Dimensions and weight: 147 x 77.2 x 9.4mm, 192g
- BlackBerry Priv review
- Best BlackBerry Priv cases
- 7 problems with the BlackBerry Priv and how to fix them
Best Non-Keyboard Phone: Blackberry Motion
- Display: 5.5-inch screen, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 32GB
- OS: Android 7.1 Nougat
- Camera: 12MP rear, 8MP front-facing
- Battery: 4,000mAh
- Dimensions and weight: 155.8 x 75.5 x 8.1mm, 167 grams
This entry on our best BlackBerry phones list is actually a precursor to TCL’s deal with the company. The DTEK50 is basically a somewhat modified and rebranded variant of TCL’s Alcatel Idol 4 phone. Aside from the branding, the biggest difference between the two phones is the DTEK50’s rubber backing, compared to the glass back on the Idol 4.
Aside from that, the BlackBerry DTEK50, which launched in August 2016, has the same hardware specs as the Idol 4. It has a 5.2-inch IPS LTPS display with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, along with an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, 3GB of RAM and 16GB of onboard storage. It also has a 13MP rear camera, an 8MP front-facing camera and a 2,614mAh battery. The phone comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, and it also has a number of BlackBerry security-based software apps pre-installed.
This phone is basically a budget Android phone with the BlackBerry brand and some security software included for the business user. Amazon currently sells it online for $279.
- Display: 5.2-inch screen, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 617
- RAM: 3GB
- Storage: 16GB
- OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- Camera: 13MP rear, 8MP front-facing
- Battery: 2,614mAh
- Dimensions and weight: 147 x 72.5 x 7.1mm, 135 grams
India market: BlackBerry Evolve and Evolve X
If you live in India, two BlackBerry-branded phones launched earlier in 2018, the BlackBerry Evolve and Evolve X. Both are actually made and sold by Optiemus Infracom, which licensed the BlackBerry name for the India market. Both have a 5.99-inch display, along with a 16MP front-facing camera and a 4,000mAh battery. However, the regular Evolve has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 chipset, 4GB of RAM, and a dual 13MP rear camera setup. The Evolve X has a faster Snapdragon 660 processor, 6GB of RAM, a 12MP main rear camera, a 13MP telephoto rear sensor, and even support for wireless charging.
The standard BlackBerry Evolve is priced in India at 24,990 rupees (~$364), while the Evolve X costs 34,990 rupees (~$509).