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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.

Best Keyboard Phone: BlackBerry Key2

blackberry key2

After TCL launched the BlackBerry KEYone, with the physical keyboard that the BlackBerry brand is known for, fans were hoping to see a followup in 2018. TCL didn’t disappoint with the release of the BlackBerry Key2, and it has a number of improvements compared to the KEYone.

The keyboard itself has gotten a facelift, with keys that are 20 percent larger than the ones on the KEYone. There’s also the new Speed Key, a dedicated key on the bottom-right of the keyboard that lets you quickly jump to any app you’d like, from wherever you currently are on the screen. 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 a f/1.8 aperture and 1.28μm pixels and the other with a 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, which is twice the memory that the KEYone contains. You can also get at least 64GB of onboard storage, although some versions sold outside the US will be able to get 128GB of storage. There’s also a 3,500mAh battery inside.

In terms of software, the BlackBerry Key2 has some nice features as well for the business and enterprise customer. That includes 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 may be a bit of a niche device, but it certainly will 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.

Specs

  • 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 12 MP rear, 8 MP front-facing
  • Battery: 3,500 mAh
  • Dimensions and weight: 151.4 x 71.8 x 8.5mm, 180 g

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Looking to save some money? Consider the Blackberry KeyOne

It’s true that the Key2 adds several improvements over 2017’s Blackberry KeyOne including a slightly faster (though still mid-range) processor, more RAM, a dual-camera, and larger storage configurations. But if we are being honest, the jump isn’t so massive when you consider that the KeyOne can now be had a discount. Right now you can find the Blackberry KeyOne for around $400 new on Amazon, though sales on eBay and elsewhere can see it easily fall below $300. 

Pick up the Blackberry KeyOne now on Amazon.

Best Slider: BlackBerry Priv

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. 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. 

Specs

  • 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

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Best Non-Keyboard Phone: Blackberry Motion

Blackberry Motion

If you are looking for a BlackBerry phone that looks more like a standard smartphone, the best one you can get right now is the BlackBerry Motion, which went on sale in the US earlier in 2018. The BlackBerry Motion has a full 5.5-inch touchscreen display and inside it has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, 4 GB of RAM and 32 GB of onboard storage. There’s also a 12 MP rear camera, an 8 MP front-facing camera, and a large 4,000 mAh non-removable battery.
 
It’s also the first TCL-made BlackBerry phone to have an IP67 dust and water resistance rating. It currently comes with Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box, though an upgrade to Android 8.0 Oreo is expected in the near future. You can get the phone unlocked from Amazon right now for the price of $449.99.

Specs

  • Display: 5.5-inch screen, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Storage: 32 GB
  • OS: Android 7.1 Nougat
  • Camera: 12 MP rear, 8 MP front-facing
  • Battery: 4,000 mAh
  • Dimensions and weight: 155.8 x 75.5 x 8.1 mm, 167 grams

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Best Budget: BlackBerry DTEK50BlackBerry DTEK50

This phone on our best BlackBerry phones list is 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 s that the DTEK50 has a 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, 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.

Specs

  • 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

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The future of BlackBerry phones

alcatel blackberry merger

 
As we said, BlackBerry is no longer designing or making its own phones. TCL has the main license to create phones that use the BlackBerry branding for most of the world, and have pre-installed software from that company. TCL has apparently seen a lot of sales success with the launch of the KEYone earlier this year, which bodes well for future BlackBerry devices. TCL may also launch a consumer-based phone with the BlackBerry name sometime in 2018. Any way you slice it, the BlackBerry name will likely continue to be used on new phones for some time to come.
 
Which phone on this best BlackBerry phones list is your favorite and why? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!