BlackBerry? The brand once ruled the US smartphone industry, and it wasn’t until the iPhone 4 came along that BlackBerry’s real demise began. Well, the brand had a really hard time around 2010 and nearly met its maker but the boxy, business phones were far from done.
In 2015, Research in Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry brand, made a significant change by releasing the BlackBerry Priv, which was the first BlackBerry phone to run on the Android operating system rather than an in-house system. Despite this shift, RIM's mobile business continued to struggle and the company had to find other ways to stay afloat and keep the BlackBerry brand alive.
Things took a turn for the worst, OnwardMobility, the company currently responsible for the BlackBerry brand, announced that it will not be reviving BlackBerry phones in any form.Here's part of the official statement:
To all of our valued followers, supporters and partners: We want to thank you all for the tremendous amount of support that you have given us since we first launched OnwardMobility. However, it is with great sadness that we announce that OnwardMobility will be shutting down, and we will no longer be proceeding with the development of an ultra-secure smartphone with a physical keyboard.
We want to thank you all for the tremendous amount of support that you have given us since we first launched OnwardMobility. However, it is with great sadness that we announce that OnwardMobility will be shutting down, and we will no longer be proceeding with the development of an ultra-secure smartphone with a physical keyboard.
So, that's that. No more BlackBerries, at least for now. Nevertheless, we decided to make a shortlist of the best BlackBerry devices you can get in 2023. It’s not a long list, mind you but there are some options.
Best BlackBerry phones 2023 at a glance:
- BlackBerry KEY2 LE
- BlackBerry KEY2
- BlackBerry Evolve
- BlackBerry Motion
- Bonus: BlackBerry 5G 2022- cancelled
BlackBerry KEY2 LE
BlackBerry KEY2 LE
1620 x 1080 pixels
13 MP (Dual camera)
8 MP front
Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
Android 8.1 Oreo
View full specs
BlackBerry KEY2 LE is the latest model from the company but these words bear a slightly different meaning. The KEY2 LE was released back in late 2018, and this alone could be enough of a factor to keep even the most devoted BlackBerry fans at a safe distance. Nevertheless, the phone exists and can be bought if you fancy it all that much. Let's talk specs.
The BlackBerry KEY2 LE features the same 4.5-inch LCD display found on the KEY2, sporting a resolution of 1080 x 1620. Instead of the Snapdragon 660 Mobile Platform that powers the KEY2, the lower-priced model has the Snapdragon 636 chipset under the hood. The Lite version of the KEY2 carries 4GB of RAM and 32/64 gigs of internal storage.
Now, these specs are surely outdated by today's standards but they're not too bad. The Snapdragon 6xx series can produce enough power for a modern smartphone experience, and 4GB of RAM isn’t too bad either (the iPhone 12 mini sports the same amount). 64GB of internal storage also matches the base storage option of Apple phones in 2021, so you can (in theory) use the BlackBerry KEY2 LE in 2021. Is it the best BlackBerry phone you can buy? Not really...
- Exceptionally long-lasting battery
- Useful security & privacy features
- Sharp photos captured by the camera under ideal settings
- Tactile keyboard
- Really fast recharge time
- Choppy graphics processing performance
- $650 cost makes it tough to compete as a mid-ranger
- Muddy image/video capture under low light
The original KEY2 or the successor of the KEYone (however you want to look at it) is also an option for nostalgia-ridden smartphone enthusiasts. There's no denying that the KEY2 looks stylish and sleek, with the iconic BlackBerry keyboard below the square-ish screen. This one has even better specs than the LE version, on par with some low-mid range phones from 2021.
BlackBerry KEY2 packs an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC coupled with 6GB of RAM and the Adreno 512 GPU, which is almost good by 2021 standards. The Snapdragon 660 is a fairly capable SoC, and 6GB of RAM should be more than enough even by today's standards.
The KEY2 also comes with a dual-camera combo on the back, and a surprisingly good one, too! The dual 12MP cameras break down to the main sensor with f/1.8 aperture lens, 1.28 μm pixels, and a wider, 79.2-degree field of view, while the secondary camera features an f/2.6 aperture with 1.0 μm pixels and 2x optical zoom. You can record 4K videos with this phone, and also shoot panoramas, slow-motion videos, you know - modern stuff. The BlackBerry KEY2 is the best BlackBerry phone you can get at the moment.
BlackBerry KEY2 review
BlackBerry Evolve X
BlackBerry Evolve X
2160 x 1080 pixels
60Hz Refresh rate
12 MP (Dual camera)
16 MP front
Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
Android 8.1 Oreo
View full specs
The BlackBerry Evolve X is a strange device - it's almost like a KEY2 but without the hardware keyboard. You know, for people who like big screens - people of 2021. This phone mirrors the hardware specs of the KEY2 (to some extent). The same octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC ticks inside the Evolve, and the same amount of RAM can be found inside - 6GB. The 64GB of storage also matches the base option of the KEY2.
What's different is the display. It's a 1080p LCD panel with a modern resolution and a modern pixel density of 403ppi. At 5.99-inches it's also pretty spacious. Not large by 2021 standards but bigger than most "compact" phones out there. There's a dual camera setup on the back, also very similar to the one found on the KEY2, with the exception of an extra megapixel on the ultra-wide snapper. No 4K recording here but the selfie camera is 16MP and the battery is also bigger at 4,000mAh.
The biggest drawback of this phone is that it's not quite made for the US. It will work in GSM mode with some carriers like AT&T but it's generally not advisable to try and get it if you live in the States.
- Top-notch battery life
- Waterproofing is a welcome addition
- Reasonably attractive design
- Powerful BB software suite
- Camera can be hit-and-miss
- Cheap-feeling home button
- Unsatisfying speaker
If you don't need a hardware keyboard but still want to flash the BlackBerry badge around, the
BlackBerry Motion is your best bet. It's another phone from the past, though - so don't expect miracles. First, the model is out of production, so buying it would require dealing with scalpers and sky-high prices, and second - 3+ years phones could potentially have battery issues. Still with us? Let's soldier on then to some specs.
The BlackBerry Motion comes with a 5.5-inch Premium Anti-Scratch screen with a 1080 x 1920 resolution (FHD), which is perfectly fine even by today's standards. The Snapdragon 625 SoC is under the hood which means the Motion is equipped with an octa-core CPU and the Adreno 506 GPU. Not the fastest processor even back then, and quiet on the backfoot in 2021.
There's 4GB of RAM onboard, and guess what - Quick Charge 3.0 tech is present too. The battery will charge to 50% in just 40-minutes. You also get a fingerprint scanner embedded in the home button. Not to mention the overall classy carbon-fiber look of this handset.
BlackBerry Motion review
BONUS: BlackBerry 5G 2021
The best advice we can give BlackBerry fans right now is to wait. Instead of buying 3-year old phones from scalpers just to find your romantic memories/expectations don't match reality, wait a couple of months and get a modern BlackBerry phone.
The BlackBerry 5G 2022 has been officially announced and just like every BlackBerry phone of late will focus heavily on trust and security features. Don't worry - the iconic QWERTY hardware keyboard will be present as well. The phone will be a collaboration with the US-based mobile security company Onward Mobility - BlackBerry announced the partnership right after their licensing deal with TCL ended.
As the name suggests, 5G network connectivity will be offered as standard, pulling BlackBerry out of the black-and-white past and bringing it to the present speedy/colorful days. The new BlackBerry might be equipped with flagship-style cameras, according to the latest rumors, which will bring the price up, for sure.
The phone was supposed to launch in 2021 but the year came and went with no BlackBerry 5G in sight. Now we know that OnwardMobility seized all attempts to bring back the brand in form of a new phone, and the project is dead, at least for now.
It is difficult to determine the best BlackBerry phones of 2023, as the available models are already several years old. It is unlikely that many people will be interested in purchasing a BlackBerry phone, but there may still be a small group of loyal fans of the brand. Unfortunately, with OnwardMobility's recent announcement, it seems that BlackBerry phones will remain a part of the past and may only be obtained as a nostalgic or collector's item.
- BlackBerry is back! New 5G phone with QWERTY keyboard arriving in 2021
- Concept render for first 5G BlackBerry reveals curved screen