BlackBerry, as we had earlier reported, announced today it was getting out of the smartphone business to focus on creating software for mobile devices, finally making official the news that many had expected for a while.
Let us repeat: BlackBerry — one of the most recognizable names in the phone industry — is done designing and making, um, phones. Sort of. We’ll still see BlackBerry-branded phones in the future through licensing deals, but the company won’t have a hand in creating the said handsets.
Which is a shame because the company formerly known as RIM was responsible for some of the most memorable mobile devices ever produced. Here’s a look at 10 of them.
1. BlackBerry 850 (1999)
Say hello to the original. The 850 was the first device to carry the BlackBerry name. It was introduced as a two-way pager in 1999, and it had a thumb keyboard and a thumbwheel for scrolling.
2. BlackBerry 5810 (2002)
The BlackBerry 5810, although technically a Java-based communicator or personal digital assistant, was essentially the company’s first handset. It had no built-in mic or speaker so to make or receive a voice call, you needed to plug in a headset. It featured a monochrome display and was limited to 2G networks. And you thought your phone was all shades of bad?
3. BlackBerry 7100 (2004)
The 7100 series comprised several handsets that had one thing in common: a modified QWERTY keypad that appealed to the text-crazed public. It was also the first batch of BlackBerrys targeted at the average user, not at suit-wearing business types. It was light on multimedia features — no built-in media player, no camera — but it had a colored display and Bluetooth connectivity.
4. BlackBerry Curve 8300 (2007)
The Curve arrived in 2007, the same year the first iPhone came out. But it wasn’t as smart as Apple’s phone, wasn’t as smart as the BlackBerry Bold. It was meant for chatting and quickly typing out messages. More importantly, it was cheap and had mass appeal.
5. BlackBerry Storm (2008)
Released in 2008 and touted as the company’s best hope to rival the iPhone, BlackBerry’s first full-touchscreen device was a bold, promising product — notwithstanding the absence of WiFi. It sold well during its first year on Verizon’s shelves, but the carrier eventually had to replace all of the one million Storm phones sold in 2008 after customers complained about its iffy touch navigation.
6. BlackBerry Bold 9000 (2008)
The Bold was responsive; it could connect to 3G and WiFi networks and GPS satellites; it had good-sounding stereo speakers; it had one of the best displays of any smartphone you could buy at the time. Further still, it looked the part of a handset that appealed to mobile professionals.
7. BlackBerry PlayBook (2011)
BlackBerry’s first foray into tablet territory received mixed reviews at launch, though conversation around the PlayBook got more favorable after a software update ironed out most of the kinks and added apps — BlackBerry’s and Android’s — that made it function more like a standalone device. A hefty price cut that brought it down to $199 also made it a more viable competitor to the Kindle Fire, and the iPad if price was a roadblock.
8. BlackBerry Z10 (2013)
The Z10 was the first phone to run BB10. It did pretty much everything one would expect from a high-end BlackBerry except it didn’t have access to the breadth of apps Android and iOS devices had. Its battery life also left us wanting more. Which was unfortunate because we kind of liked the Z10.
9. BlackBerry Passport (2014)
The Passport was a curious device. It was weird-looking — with its big square screen and tiny rectangular keyboard; it ran BB10, BlackBerry’s struggling operating system; and even though it brought together many of BlackBerry’s best technologies, it divided critics and fans alike. But one thing most people agreed on was it should have shipped with Android.
10. BlackBerry Priv (2015)
The Priv was BlackBerry’s first Android device. It had a curved touch display and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Critics thought it was decent; fans loved it. But it had one major asterisk: a $700 launch price that proved too steep, too ambitious. BlackBerry eventually dropped the Priv’s price, but by then it was already too late. Consumers had made up their minds.
Image credit: Pocket-lint