Once upon a time, BlackBerry phones were so popular among the business and enterprise crowd, they were referred to as “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 that used its own BlackBerry OS, but slowly it 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 does license out its BlackBerry name to other smartphone makers who use it to make their own Android-based devices, with BlackBerry software installed. That means you can still buy a new phone with the classic BlackBerry name attached to it. In this feature, we take a look at the best BlackBerry phones that you can currently buy, including the new ones made by other companies, along with some of the older ones that BlackBerry itself designed and made.
Best Keyboard Phone: BlackBerry KEYone
This Android-based device in our best BlackBerry phones list is the first smartphone with that brand that was actually designed and made by TCL, who now owns the rights to use the BlackBerry name on handsets. It’s also notable in that TCL decided to go with one of BlackBerry’s old, but still distinctive, features for its first such phone: a physical QWERTY keyboard.
That feature alone makes the KEYone stand out from the competition. Owners of older BlackBerry phones will feel right at home in using the keyboard, although it may take some getting used to for others who have used a virtual keyboard on a touchscreen for years. The KEYone keyboard, combined with the BlackBerry Launcher software, allows users to create and access shortcuts to features on the phone, such as launching specific apps, playing games, using it with its camera, and more.
The 4.5-inch 1,620 x 1,080 touchscreen on the KEYone may sound small, but with its physical keyboard, the screen can now be used for apps and other uses exclusively. It also has an qcta-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor running at 2 GHz, along with Android 7.1.1 Nougat out of the box, 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of onboard storage. The company recently announced a new version, the BlackBerry KEYone Black Edition, that has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, in addition to an all-black finish, as opposed to the black and silver look of the original.
Both versions also have a rear 12 MP camera, a front-facing 8 MP camera and a 3,505 mAh battery. The fingerprint reader is embedded in the keyboard’s spacebar. The body of the KEYone is made of thick aluminum, with a rubberized plastic material on the back to give the hand a better hold. BlackBerry’s mobile software is installed on the phone, which includes its DTEK security software for apps.
The BlackBerry KEYone should please old-school BlackBerry fans who want a physical keyboard and is definitely a must on our best BlackBerry phones list. It’s clearly made mostly for business customers, however, and regular smartphone consumers might be intimidated with the design. You can get an unlocked version at Amazon now for $536.64, or you can get it on a payment plan via AT&T or Sprint.
- Display: 4.5-inch IPS LCD with 1,620 x 1,080 resolution
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
- RAM: 3,4 GB
- Storage: 32, 64 GB
- OS: Android 7.1.1 Nougat
- Camera: 12 MP rear, 8 MP front-facing
- Battery: 3,505 mAh
- Dimensions and weight: 149.3 x 72.5 x 9.4 mm, 180 g
- BlackBerry KEYone review
- Blackberry KEYone announced: here’s what you need to know
- LG G6 vs BlackBerry KEYone quick look
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 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of onboard storage.There’s also a large 18 MP rear camera, a small 2 MP front-facing camera, a 3,410 mAh 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 do decide to get this phone, be aware that 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.
- Display: 5.4-inch Quad HD resolution
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
- RAM: 3 GB
- Storage: 32 GB
- OS: Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
- Camera: 18 MP rear, 2 MP front-facing
- Battery: 3,410 mAh
- Dimensions and weight: 147 x 77.2 x 9.4 mm, 192 grams
- BlackBerry Priv review
- Best BlackBerry Priv cases
- 7 problems with the BlackBerry Priv and how to fix them
Best Budget: BlackBerry DTEK50
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 a octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor, 3 GB of RAM and 16 GB of onboard storage. It also has a 13 MP rear camera, an 8 MP front-facing camera and a 2,614 mAh 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 is currently selling it online for $204.88.
- Display: 5.2-inch screen, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 617
- RAM: 3 GB
- Storage: 16 GB
- OS: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- Camera: 13 MP rear, 8 MP front-facing
- Battery: 2,614 mAh
- Dimensions and weight: 147 x 72.5 x 7.1 mm, 135 grams
Going BB10: BlackBerry Passport, BlackBerry Classic
- Display: 4.5-inch 1,440 x 1,440 resolution screen
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
- RAM: 3 GB
- Storage: 32 GB
- OS: BB10.3
- Camera: 13 MP rear, 2 MP front-facing
- Battery: 3,450 mAh
- Dimensions and weight: 128 x 90.3 x 9.3 mm, 196 grams
- Display: 3.5-inch 720 x 720 resolution screen
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus
- RAM: 2 GB
- Storage: 16 GB
- OS: BB10.3
- Camera: 8 MP rear, 2 MP front-facing
- Battery: 2,515 mAh
- Dimensions and weight: 131 x 72.4 x 10.2 mm, 177 grams
The future of BlackBerry phones