BlackBerry Is Planning a Comeback. For Some, It Never Left

WIRED contributor Esat Dedezade still keeps a BlackBerry Passport Silver Edition (2015) wrapped in an old pillow case in a chest of drawers, alongside cables and other forgotten tech. “My relationship with BlackBerry was more akin to a short, fiery rocket blast than a slow-burning candle,” he says. “When BlackBerry launched the Z10 and Q10 (2013) with BB10 OS though, I was hooked, and I finally understood people’s infatuation with the physical keyboard.”

So much so that he looked past the lack of apps and ended up using a BlackBerry as his main phone for a few years, graduating from the “gloriously square” Passport, and ending with the Android PRIV, “which had an extremely satisfying slide-out keyboard that I still miss to this day”. If the new 5G BlackBerry is a “newer, Android-powered Passport, with that iconic square screen, keyboard, and a camera that isn’t absolute garbage, I’ll be first in line.”

Lucy Barnes, a project manager at United Utilities, still remembers the “very satisfying clicking sound” of the keyboard, “the tactile trackball,” and the fact that you could drop the BlackBerry Bold (2008), thanks to its rubber outer case. She used BlackBerry phones for her personal and work devices for about five years straight from 2011 onwards—owning a Curve then two Bolds and a Leap (2015).

“I got my first BlackBerry straight after university,” she says. “It used to be associated with business types: how many characters used to barge around on TV shows holding a BlackBerry, like David Wallace” in The Office. There were downsides: “The camera was rubbish, and if one of the buttons on the keyboard broke, you were kinda screwed.” She’d still consider switching from a Samsung Galaxy S10+, though, for an Android with a BlackBerry keyboard, good camera, good screen, and decent app functionality.

And r/blackberry member e_boon says: “Anything but yet another slab will do for me! I’m more loyal to the physical keyboard itself than the BlackBerry brand. As for that (Microsoft Surface) Duo, to me it’s basically two wide slabs hinged together. I don’t personally value what it has to offer. Pretending that having the entire second screen dedicated to a virtual keyboard will make for a more accurate typing experience seems silly to me.”

After starting out with a BlackBerry Pearl in 2008, e_boon has moved between BlackBerry phones like the Bold 9900 to iPhones and Samsung Galaxys before going back to BlackBerry with the KEYONE. “Since I’ve returned to BB in 2017, I definitely got my fair share of ‘They still make BlackBerrys?’ and ‘Is that a keyboard?’”

“I can’t say for sure that my ardent defensiveness and recommendation of these modern DroidBerrys actually generated sales (maybe a handful), because it’s hard to change the general public’s perception and motivate them to move from their comfort zone (iPhone/Galaxy) to something they never tried, or have but years ago … Yep, all of this was typed on my KEY2.”

It’s a common refrain among BlackBerry fans discussing their phones in 2020 to say something along the lines of “I hope I don’t come off as some 2008-loving retro nut.” Nova Scotia-based redditor petiteging, who posted their excitement about the Onward Mobility news, says “the majority of the population believes BlackBerry is obsolete” and that r/blackberry is “a community that speaks my language.”

Favorite BB features include the PRIV’s slider form factor and the keyboard shortcuts to contacts or scrolling to the top of a page; they’re currently using a Google Pixel 3 XL: “I didn’t get a KEY2 because of the camera. The Pixel is fast and the camera is amazing. However, it’s not my BlackBerry.”

This story originally appeared on WIRED UK.


More Great WIRED Stories

www.wired.com

Leave a Reply