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.
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 👋.