Classic BlackBerry Smartphones Discontinued Today

BlackBerry classic

End of life. Users clinging to classic handsets running BlackBerry 10 and older OS warned they will no longer function after Tuesday 4 January

The end has come for the classic BlackBerry smartphone running its legacy operating systems, including BlackBerry 10, as well as BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier.

The former Canadian smartphone powerhouse said that its classic smartphones running its operating systems will cease operating reliably from Tuesday 4 January.

This marks the ending of an era for the classic smartphones that was beloved by many, including then-President Barack Obama and the Queen, thanks to its QWERTY keyboards, BBM instant messaging, and strong security credentials.

End of life

The high point for BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion or RIM) was in 2009 when BlackBerry owned nearly 20 percent of the global smartphone market – with an even higher percentage in the US – selling more than 50 million smartphones a year.

In 2013 it still had 85 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide.

Want to know more about BlackBerry? Read Silicon UK’s Tales In Tech History about the iconic smartphone maker.

But then it got squashed by Android and iOS alternatives.

And just before Christmas 2021 BlackBerry updated its September 2020 announcement that the switch off will happen today, and will affect services for all of its devices not running on Android software, including the BlackBerry 10, 7.1 OS and earlier.

“As a reminder, the legacy services for BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software, BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1 and earlier versions, will no longer be available after January 4, 2022” said BlackBerry.

“As of this date, devices running these legacy services and software through either carrier or Wi-Fi connections will no longer reliably function, including for data, phone calls, SMS and 9-1-1 functionality,” it warned.

“We thank our many loyal customers and partners over the years and invite you to learn more about how BlackBerry provides intelligent security software and services to enterprises and governments around the world,” it added.

It reminded people that in 2016, BlackBerry executive chairman and CEO John Chen had announced the completion of the company’s transition to a software company. It now provides intelligent security software and services to enterprises and governments around the world.

Android alternative?

Despite this news, BlackBerry branded phones running Android will still function, but even these are unlikely to be around much longer.

This is because TCL Communication confirmed in February 2020 that the Chinese manufacturer would no longer release any more BlackBerry-branded phones.

BlackBerry and TCL had signed a licensing deal in December 2016 after a last-ditch attempt to revive BlackBerry’s fortunes in the smartphone sector by switching from BlackBerry 10 OS to the Android operating system, despite critical acclaim for BB 10 OS.

Since 2014 BlackBerry CEO John Chen had been warning that BlackBerry could stop manufacturing devices as part of its ongoing recovery strategy.

Then in September 2016 it was confirmed that BlackBerry would longer make smartphones (after 14 years) as the company focused all of its resources on security services and software.

That 2016 licensing deal saw TCL release the BlackBerry KEYone in 2017, which boasted two hardcore features that BlackBerry fans loved, namely its comparatively long battery life and QWERTY keyboard.

That device was BlackBerry’s final in-house designed smartphone.

TCL followed this up in 2018 when it released the BlackBerry Key2, which was the first BlackBerry smartphone to feature dual rear cameras, and also included a customisable shortcut button called the Speed Key.

It followed this handset up with the lower-cost Key2 LE.

But these handsets failed to attract significant sales, with the TCL/BlackBerry market share reportedly as low as 1 percent of the global smartphone sector, prompting the cancellation.