BlackBerry smartphones are dead, sales officially ending in August

BlackBerry KEY2
BlackBerry KEY2 (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • As of August 31, 2020, TCL will stop selling BlackBerry phones.
  • TCL acquired the rights to produce BlackBerry-branded devices in December 2016.
  • Support for existing BlackBerry phones will continue through August 31, 2022.

It's officially the end of an era. Bright and early in the morning on February 3, it was confirmed that BlackBerry smartphones are no more.

The Blackberry Mobile Twitter account broke the news by sharing the above Tweet, simply sharing the image of the damning statement without any other text to accompany it. Per BlackBerry Mobile:

We do regret to share however that as of August 31, 2020, TCL Communication will no longer be selling BlackBerry-branded mobile devices. TCL Communication has no further rights to design, manufacture or sell any new BlackBerry mobile devices.

Back in December 2016, TCL announced that it had secured the rights to create and sell BlackBerry-branded smartphones. This was seen as an exciting revival of the long-beloved brand, and it resulted in the release of phones like the BlackBerry KEYone, Motion, KEY2, and KEY2 LE. The KEY phones were especially interesting, as they brought back the iconic BlackBerry design with a physical QWERTY keyboard in a world filled with flat slabs of glass that are virtually indistinguishable from each other.

BlackBerry KEY2 LE

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Unfortunately, the nostalgia of designs from days past doesn't appear to have been enough to keep the BlackBerry ship sailing.

As for what this means for those existing phones, BlackBerry says:

TCL Communication will continue to provide support for the existing portfolio of mobile devices including customer service and warranty service until August 31, 2022 - or for as long as required by local laws where the mobile device was purchased.

There's no mention in the statement about what this means for future software updates, but I think it's safe to say we shouldn't be holding our breath for them anytime soon. The BlackBerry KEY2 is still running Android 8.1 Oreo, and prior to this news, it was already unlikely that it would be updated to Android Pie or Android 10.

Closing out the grim news, BlackBerry Mobile ends its statement with:

For those of us at TCL Communication who were blessed enough to work on BlackBerry Mobile, we want to thank all of our partners, customers and the BlackBerry fan community for their support over these past few years. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to meet so many fans from all over the world during our tour stops. The future is bright for both TCL Communication and BlackBerry Limited, and we hope you'll continue to support both as we move ahead on our respective paths.

So long, old friend 👋.

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

  • Sad really. I was a big BB fan for a number of years. But let's face it, BB died when it was obvious that BB10 was dead.
  • Blackberry, when they left the hardware business, was an obvious sign it was the end for hardware. From my BlackBerry Key2 LE on Freedom Mobile LTE or 3G HSPA+
  • Anyone who is half awake knew this. People don't want phones with little keyboards on them anymore. At least, not enough people to make them worth manufacturing.
  • Yeah, I already knew it. When they left the hardware business, it was only time before the licensing agreements would go away two years after it. From my BlackBerry Key2 LE on Freedom Mobile LTE or 3G HSPA+
  • "People" is vague. Some people do, and they REALLY do want them. There are enough slabs of glass out there, so those are the ones we don't need more of.
  • Quoted from my original comment: "At least, not enough people to make them worth manufacturing." And to clear up the confusion, by "people" I mean humans. You know, men, women and children? They come in a selection of colours and various shapes and sizes.
  • Well, this sucks
  • Completely. Im thinking of ordering a UniHertz Titan just to help support the physical keyboard on a smartphone, even though that phone is too big for my liking
  • Sad, sad! Just recently remembered fondly my Pearl and, even more so, my Storm 2 (all made in Canada, not China!). Then the two dumb CEOs laughed about the iPhone and kept sleeping and a great company went to bust.
  • You can't turn back time, they left the hardware business in 2016, and the license rights expired. All companies make mistakes with their devices (ie. Fired note 7 aka 6), plus more. Nothing short of unpredictable. From my BlackBerry Key2 LE on Freedom Mobile LTE or 3G HSPA+
  • It's sad. But BlackBerry exacerbated it's own demise. They stayed away from incorporating with Android when the company still had clout and cache. They started playing catch up down 55 points with 30 seconds left in the 4th quarter. At some point, they staved off their demise for a small amount of time. But the only leverage they had, which was business applications and enterprising, got eclipsed by Apple and Samsung and other companies that innovated in that space. Such a legacy. I don't like businesses ending. But hopefully that legacy will be adopted by others.
  • They only left the hardware business in 2016, 5 years ago. They're been software and security as a service since then, it's been their roots from the beginning. They revoked the rights to license it out, so that's that. From my BlackBerry Key2 LE on Freedom Mobile LTE or 3G HSPA+
  • Exactly. How different things could have been if the Android powered KEYone had been launched in 2012 instead of the BB10 money pit failure
  • Unfortunate but not surprising.
  • They Blackberry Android phones had low-end specs, bad cameras, crappy software update’s time to put Old Yeller down.
  • I don't chase the future, because when you do that, look what comes up... disappointment. There are far too many rumours which disappoint many. Last time I chased the future, the end-result was sheer disappointment. I won't do it again (that was 5 years ago), it also had nothing to do with BlackBerry when they still made hardware.
  • The BlackBerry phones were made for heavy typists, not amateur photographers. Didn't think it would need to be spelled out but here we are. There are already FAR too many boring glass slabs with excellent cameras.
  • I had a feeling this was going to happen, it was only in due time, they would announce it on their website. Then again, it didn't stop me from getting the key2 LE. I knew software updates were limited to just one or two major revision numbers, as with all android devices. That was no surprise. From my BlackBerry Key2 LE on Freedom Mobile LTE or 3G HSPA+
  • If you want the best email handling manager, the simplest and sturdiest password manager and a bunch of other stuff that BlackBerry knew how to make, you can still get it in the Play Store. For $0.99 a month I have the BlackBerry flavor in my Pixel 2XL, and it is awesome.
  • Sensible, they won't abandon their software suite.
  • For now..... But development of those apps might not be long term either, without hardware sales supporting it. We have seen a number of the device Apps go EOL last summer and development of the rest of the apps has slowed greatly. Where once we had four or five developers answering questions about different issues... I don't think any have posted since Sept 2019.
  • The Passport OG was the coolest phone I ever owned. I would buy that same phone with updated specs every year if they still made it and it wasn't even my daily driver.
  • I saw this coming when there was no successor to the Key2. The die hard Blackberry Typist would remain true fans but with the lack of higher-end/better quality spec'd models kept a new base of fans from adopting.
  • That phrase "we hope you will continue to support both TCL and BlackBerry as we move on" Hum, no, TCL abandons the keyboard, so I will NOT support their glass slabs, and I will not support BlackBerry because they have nothing to sell me as a consumer.
  • Will my limited edition Red Key 2 become an expensive paperweight or a collector's item for nostalgic tech museums? Should be interesting...
  • No, it should continue to function for many years.
  • Made it kinda difficult when only 1 carrier, carried 1 device,
    And 1 other carrier, carried 1 other device. I tried so hard to get a blackberry again, they failed at the marketing side of things. A full keyboard, touch screen, Android device shoulda been an awesome niche.
  • R. I. P.
  • I'm a business user and for me typing out emails on a physical keyboard meant I could be super efficient on the road... I went from Windows Phone where I would monitor my emails and compose them on my laptop to the Blackberry KeyOne, one of the best phones I every owned and still use now... I can type out my emails on the go without looking at the keyboard something that is not possible on a glass slab... I will use it until the hardware breaks and have ordered a Unihertz Titan to support their efforts... Would have loved a Key2 but because prices haven"t dropped I'm not prepared to pay so much for an end of line device...
  • Original Motorola Raza and any BB phone (touch screen or keys especially the passport). My personal best phones ever. Sad really kinda hearing about an old friend passing away even though you ain't spoken in years. I even had the dtek60 with the screen problems. Back to moto now.
  • Disappointing news, tbh. Just hope the Hub app won't go EOL as well, as I haven't seen any updates for quite some time now.
  • The Hub is software based. So I can't see that going EOL, when they are only talking about the hardware portion.
  • They have already cut development of it.... An attempt to keep it viable after the end of hardware payments, or phasing it out? Will have to see....
  • The signs have been there for years. TCL is a horrible company, and licencing the rights for BlackBerry devices to them was a huge mistake. This pretty much confirms it. They (TCL aka BlackBerry Mobile) produced nothing but mediocre, overly priced devices. No marketing, no effort to promote the products, poor availability, crummy customer service and support, no regular and timely OS or security patch updates etc. So this final nail in the coffin shouldn't come as a surprise. The truth is that RIM and by extension BlackBerry, was a dumpster fire since 2008. First, Lazaridis and Balsille overstayed their welcome, didn't know how to steer the company, it's meteoric rise and expansion, and missed the opportunity to pivot from a prosumer clientele centered company to a mass consumer oriented one. Then they passed the torch to a sycophant like Thorsten Heinz, who was as clueless as they were. The botched product launches, half-baked software, lack of apps continued under him. Too much time was lost on launching BB10, a wonderful OS, that was pretty much DOA, doomed by bad timing and lack of support. Then came John Chen, a middle-management type, a mediocre pencil pusher with no imagination or the vision necessary to turn the company around. As far as I know he is still pursuing his "turnaround strategy" for BlackBerry proper...with about the same amount of success as when he took it over. ZERO. I enthusiastically (and in retrospect stupidly) adopted BlackBerry as a replacement when Nokia went under back in the mid 2000's. Five devices and almost a decade as a customer and nothing to show for but wasted money and frustration. Frustrations at the fact that you could see the potential in the company, what could have been versus what is. It wasn't all bad, but the negative outweighed the positive in the end. To be brutally honest, once the BlackBerry legacy OS became EOL, they should have allied with Google and adopted Android as their de-facto OS. Maybe they would have had a shot. An Android One BlackBerry device doesn't sound too bad. As others have said, the end of an era. Too bad and sad indeed. BlackBerry had a lot of great and talented people working for it, a talent pool that was horribly understimated and wasted. All the talent lost has greatly benefited Apple, Google and other companies through the mass talent migration of the past few years. It would be nice if down the road the brand/company could be revived like HMD Global did with Nokia. Who knows... however I'm not holding my breath. And frankly at this point in time, I no longer care. So buyeeeee BlackBerry. It was kind of nice to know you...
  • I wonder what will happen to the apps. BB inbox is the best email client. If BB is to survive they need to continue to sell software. I moved over to bitwarden from password keeper because of lack of cross platform availability. They need to develop for both iOS and Android...
  • I would guess that one real reason why BlackBerry phones weren't as popular is because the 99.9% of the world wants Full Touch Devices, they don't want hardware keyboards phones. And now we see the end result. Also to add to adonesc76's comment, he's correct as all BlackBerry phones sold were well Overpriced. With BlackBerry's market position, they didn't deserve to be horribly overpriced, which is another factor to the hardware sales deficit. I wish they made a couple versions of the BlackBerry Motion, then launch a couple newer versions of this fantastic all touch device, but they didn't, instead they concentrated on these blasted physical keyboard phones way too much, concentrating on a very select few and neglected the remaining 99.9% of the market segment. I am not surprised with this news, as from the beginning, when both Co-CEO's rejected the fact that Apple was a threat back in day, where one Co-CEO wanted to open up the BBM standard to all devices and the other Co-CEO rejected this, then realized 2 years later that they should have opened it up, hence BBM's slow demise unfortunately, and the utter incompetence with how BB10 was launched, etc., etc., it was a very slow downturn process for the company. John Chen only made matters worse by not listening to BlackBerry customers, and basically forcing them to move onto other competing platforms. Miss management, incompetence & inexperience finally caught up to BlackBerry, a once amazing technologically superior hardware & software maker.
    Here hoping Apple (Even though I HATE Apple) buys the BB10 OS rights fully and builds on top of it so they can scrap the Gosh Awful iOS headache of a OS.................