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RIP BlackBerry: A timeline of every great BlackBerry phone we reviewed

OPINION: Noughties mobile brand BlackBerry rang in 2022 on a bitter note when it announced that it would finally be ending support for its BlackBerry OS software from January 4. 

This means that smartphones running BlackBerry 7.1 OS and BlackBerry 10 and tablets based on BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1 will no longer make calls, send texts or access Wi-Fi and mobile data, rendering any of the brand’s devices not running Android essentially dead. 

It feels hard to believe that BlackBerry was once one of the most popular mobile brands around, with its peak hitting in 2011 when it reportedly sold more than 50 million units and pinging your pals on BBM was the fastest way to get their attention. 

However, it wasn’t long before Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platform took over in sales, shoving BlackBerry out of the spotlight as quickly as it entered. 

With BlackBerry finally pulling the plug on its much-loved OS in 2022, we’ve taken a look back at all the best phones the brand released over its lifetime. Every phone on this list was tested by an expert on Trusted Reviews at the time of release and scored 4/5 or over.

T-Mobile BlackBerry 8700 (2006)

The T-Mobile edition of the BlackBerry 8700 was the first BlackBerry phone to gain 4 stars that we reviewed here at Trusted Reviews all the way back in 2006.

Back then, BlackBerry was primarily popular amongst businessmen and women looking to stay connected to work while out and about and was already gaining prominence as a status symbol. 

“A BlackBerry is almost like a measure of importance – the more emails that you receive and have to respond to while you’re out of the office, the more important you surely must be”, wrote Riyad Emeran in our review. 

What the reviewer said:

“The BlackBerry 8700 is the most accomplished handset that RIM has produced to date, but it finds itself balancing between two camps. On one hand it wants to be a heavy duty corporate tool, but on another it offers great features and value for money for the small businesses and individuals. I still firmly believe that there is room for two BlackBerry models – a corporate unit and a more consumer focused version, complete with camera, full Bluetooth functionality and even Wi-Fi. As it stands though, the 8700 is the best option if you need your email sent to your pocket”.

Score: 4/5

BlackBerry 7130g (2006)

That same month, we took a look at the BlackBerry 7130g – a slimmer smartphone with it’s QWERTY keyboard jammed into fewer keys. 

Our reviewer praised BlackBerry (then RIM) for designing a phone that looked more sleek and stylish than previous BlackBerry handsets. Though, he also noted that it wouldn’t win any beauty contests compared with the Motorola V3 RAZR, which should give you a good idea of what the company was up against at the time. 

What the reviewer said:

“The 7130g is a great handset and easily the best that RIM has produced so far. I’ve been using it for the past few weeks and found it to be a great mobile companion, and not just for email. The dimensions and design make it a perfectly usable mobile phone, while features like the integrated Google Maps and fast web browsing make it extremely versatile”.

Score: 4/5

BlackBerry Pearl (2007) 

A year later, BlackBerry released the Pearl in an attempt to move away from its reputation as a business smartphone. 

Like the 7130g, the Pearl lacked the full QWERTY keyboard found on wider BlackBerry phones, with the company opting to use its SureType predictive typing system to keep the design slim. The Pearl gained its namesake from the rollerball above the keyboard, allowing users to scroll and click very quickly. 

What the reviewer said:

“As a consumer device, it’s a definite success. It’s slim, it looks great, ticks all the right boxes and adds the killer instant email feature. For kids who are on email all the time, its a great feature – and the fact that RIM is already starting to ship truckloads of these things seems to back that up. But email as a personal tool is on its way out, with social networks and instant messenger rapidly taking its place. Couple that with the fact the media functionality is average and it looks like a pony that does one trick well and merely nuzzles at a few others”.

Score: 4/5

BlackBerry Curve 8300 (2007) 

The BlackBerry Curve 8300 marked our first 4.5 star review of a BlackBerry phone and, as reviewer Sandra Vogel noted at the time, the company seemed to be on a roll. 

The Curve 8300 featured the full QWERTY keyboard and looked a lot like the older BlackBerry 8800, albeit smaller and with the GPS antenna swapped out for a Bluetooth GPS antenna, allowing for turn by turn navigation on BlackBerry Maps. 

The phone still lacked Wi-Fi and 3G, though this wasn’t exactly surprising given it was 2007. 

What the reviewer said:

“The Curve is certainly a neat little BlackBerry, small and light, and comfortable to use. I’d have liked Wi-Fi and 3G but at least RIM is clearly working hard at developing its multimedia capabilities. For a first attempt in that respect the Curve does pretty well”.

Score: 4.5/5

BlackBerry Pearl 8120 (2007) 

The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 was the second 4.5 star BlackBerry we reviewed and the first in the Pearl line to score so highly. 

The 8120 was a big improvement on the original Pearl, bringing with it a slim design, smarter SureType, a 3.5mm headphone jack and Wi-Fi (though still no 3G). The Pearl also had a better camera and was capable of recording video for the first time. 

What the reviewer said:

“With the Pearl 8120, RIM is clearly trying to push further into the consumer’s consciousness and retain its business fans too. The device doesn’t go far enough to capture all consumers – where’s the 3G and the oodles of internal memory, for example? But it does show that RIM is trying harder than ever to break out of its ‘businesses only’ box. Design-wise it’s on the button. Features-wise there is still a little way to go. And as a whole, it’s certainly recommended”.

Score: 4.5/5

BlackBerry Bold 9000 (2008)

The BlackBerry Bold 9000 was the first Bold BlackBerry made and another 4.5 star smartphone for the brand. 

The Bold included a full QWERTY keyboard layout, a glossy plastic front and a faux leather back. The display was the same resolution as Apple’s iPhone at the time (480 x 320) and the phone featured fast GPS positioning and a 3.5mm headphone jack. 

What the reviewer said:

“If mobile email is your prime concern, the Bold does the job superbly, just like every BlackBerry before it. The handset itself is also well designed, simple to use and stacked full of features – the 3.5mm headphone jack is particularly good to see. Throw in that great screen and lightning fast GPS positioning and it’s clear that RIM has produced another winner”.

Score: 4.5/5

BlackBerry Storm (2008) 

The next three phones we reviewed from BlackBerry all received 4 stars, marking a slight dip in its 4.5 star streak. But still, none strayed into 3 or even 3.5 star territory as the brand continued to grow in popularity and introduce more lines. 

The BlackBerry Storm was perhaps the most highly anticipated of these as this was the first BlackBerry with a touchscreen display. 

While there was something odd about seeing a BlackBerry without a physical QWERTY keyboard and the model lacked Wi-Fi, the Storm was overall a large success, cementing BlackBerry’s position as a true rival to Apple’s iPhone and Android models at the time.

What the reviewer said:

“RIM should be very proud of the BlackBerry Storm. Considering that this is the first touchscreen BlackBerry, it’s a surprisingly accomplished device, and one that’s often a joy to use. But there are issues with the Storm like the lack of Wi-Fi, temperamental accelerometer and disappointing battery life that take off some of the shine. Despite these problems, the Storm is still the closest real competitor to Apple’s iPhone seen to date. Couple that with the legendary BlackBerry email client and I can see the Storm doing very well indeed”.

Score: 4/5

BlackBerry Curve 8900 (2009) 

The BlackBerry Curve 8900 was an update to the Curve line that looked physically similar to its predecessors but with a handful of improvements, including a slimmer design, a sleeker finish, a silent mode switch and a 3.5mm headphone jack. 

Still no 3G, though. 

What the reviewer said:

“The Curve 8900 is a worthy successor to the previous models in RIM’s Curve range. This is because the company has managed to retain the DNA that made those devices so popular while also adding some neat extras into the mix such as the classier looks, faster processor and sharper screen. Sure, the lack of 3G is a disappointment, but whereas it would be a deal breaker on a lesser handset, on the 8900 it’s simply a bit of a distraction”

Score: 4/5

BlackBerry Curve 8520 (2009) 

BlackBerry also launched the Curve 8520 in 2009, offering the excellent email features BlackBerry was known for, along with a long battery life and a simple interface for less money than many flagship phones cost at the time. 

What the reviewer said:

“The BlackBerry Curve 8250 is certainly a little light on features, with 3G and GPS the most serious omissions, but the phone still manages to rise above these limitations. It’s the combination of its excellent email features, long battery life and easy to use interface that make it so likeable and as a result we think it’s a good choice for those who want more than a standard mobile, but haven’t got the cash to go the iPhone or HTC Hero route”.

Score: 4/5

BlackBerry Bold 9700 (2009) 

After a disappointing blip with the BlackBerry Storm 2, BlackBerry released another 4.5 star Bold, the BlackBerry Bold 9700

The Bold 9700 was a welcome update to the Bold line a year after the first. BlackBerry reduced its divisive faux leather back to a small patch and shrunk the phone down in size. 

Despite its more toned-down appearance, the Bold continued to offer a decent selection of features, including a great screen and keyboard and the addition of the Pearl’s trackball. The Bold 9700 marked the last phone to get a 4.5 star rating here at Trusted Reviews.

What the reviewer said:

“The Blackberry Bold 9700 may not have quite the distinctive style of the Bold 9000 but in every other sense it’s a worthy successor. It’s well made, feels nice in the hand, has a great screen and keyboard, and the new optical trackpad is at least equal to the outgoing trackball”.

Score: 4.5/5

BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105 (2010) 

The Pearl 3G 9105 was a 3G-supported Pearl phone introduced in 2010. 

This launch was unusual as BlackBerry chose to release two different keyboards depending on your location – customers in the UK received a standard numerical keyboard, while users in the US got a hybrid QWERTY keyboard.

We awarded the UK version 4 stars. Though it was less suited to typing out long emails than its US counterpart, the Pearl 3G 9105 remained a stylish phone with great connectivity and features. 

What the reviewer said:

“As you would expect, the lack of a QWERTY keyboard means the Pearl 3G is not exactly an ideal phone to use for tapping out longer emails, so if you’re used to the keyboard on your current BlackBerry then this isn’t the handset to upgrade to. However, the phone is obviously targeted at those who want a smartphone that doesn’t look like a smartphone, but still retains all the same functionality”.

Score: 4/5

BlackBerry Bold 9900 8

BlackBerry Bold 9900 (2011)

BlackBerry peaked in sales in 2011 and, looking back at our reviews from the time, we can see why. We tested out six BlackBerry devices in 2011 (including two sliding phones from the BlackBerry Torch line) and only one impressed us enough to win 4 stars. It seemed BlackBerry’s reign was coming to an end. 

The BlackBerry Bold 9900 was the best BlackBerry we saw launch that year and it was a great one. The phone packed an excellent keyboard, impressive performance, a good touchscreen and new software, though even in 2011 our reviewer noted it couldn’t quite stack up to what Apple and Android phones were offering at the time.

What the reviewer said:

“The BlackBerry Bold 9900 is just about the perfect upgrade for existing BlackBerry users, assuming you can live with the slight drop in battery life. The keyboard’s excellent, the touchscreen’s great, performance is stellar, and the new software adds plenty too. What’s more the limitations won’t feel as such if you’re used to previous BlackBerrys. However, if you’re looking at this phone as simply the best RIM currently has to compete with the iPhones and Androids of this world, then it doesn’t quite stack up. Yes, a lot of its limitations are simply down to form factor but nonetheless the screen is small, the camera isn’t up to snuff, and the selection of apps is woeful”.

Score: 4/5

BlackBerry PlayBook (2012) 

Amid a large number of disappointing smartphones, BlackBerry released an update to its PlayBook tablet line in 2012 that offered web browsing, video and email features for just £169.

However, the brand struggled to offer the app support available on iPads and Android tablets. 

What the reviewer said:

“So what’s the final verdict on the PlayBook and its 2.0 update? Well, at £169 BlackBerry has certainly got the pricing right, and with those essential features like email now onboard, it can only be considered a bargain, even just as a glorified portable video player and web browsing tool. However, it still remains to be seen if that app support will arrive to make this and future BlackBerry tablets genuine competitors with the iPads and Androids of this world, or if it’s all too little too late”.

Score: 4/5

BlackBerry Priv (2015) 

After years of BlackBerry 10 phones that failed to impress and the release of more business-minded phones like the BlackBerry Passport, BlackBerry made an effort to bounce back in 2015 with a renewed focus on security and the help of the Android operating system. 

The BlackBerry Priv was a success, but a pricey one considering its competition at this point.

What the reviewer said:

“The Priv is the best BlackBerry phone in over half a decade, but its performance doesn’t justify its price tag”.

Score: 4/5

Blackberry DTEK60

BlackBerry DTEK60 (2016) 

A year later, BlackBerry released another great, security-forward Android phone with the BlackBerry DTEK60. The DTEK60 featured a 5.5-inch QHD AMOLED display and a 21-megapixel camera, along with a more reasonable price. 

What the reviewer said:

“The DTEK60 is another leap back to form for BlackBerry, and a great mid-range phone”.

Score: 4/5

BlackBerry Motion (2017) 

While BlackBerry attempted to bring back the Bold keyboard in 2016 with the launch of the BlackBerry KEYone (and again in 2017, with the Key2), neither quite landed the way the BlackBerry Motion did in 2017. 

The Motion rounds off our list as the last great BlackBerry phone, earning 4 stars from us. While the BlackBerry name was no longer particularly relevant five years ago, the Motion offered a cheap and practical option for those in need of a reliable smartphone with a long battery life.

What the reviewer said:

“A solid Android smartphone for those tired of their phone’s battery running out before 10pm”.

Score: 4/5

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