Classic BlackBerry phones stop working today

You can no longer use that old BlackBerry phone sitting at the bottom of your drawer somewhere.

On Tuesday, the company will stop running support for its classic devices running BlackBerry 10, 7.1 OS, and earlier. This means all of its older devices not running on Android software will no longer be able to use data, send text messages, access the internet, or make calls, even to 911.

While most mobile users have moved on from BlackBerry — the last version of its operating system launched in 2013 — the decision to discontinue support for its phones represents the end of what was once considered bleeding-edge technology.

BlackBerry (BB) has been mostly out of the phone business since 2016, but over the years it continued to license its brand to phone manufacturers, including TCL and more recently OnwardMobility, an Austin, Texas-based security startup, for a 5G Blackberry device running on Android software.

BlackBerry’s old school cell phones with physical keyboards from the late 1990s and early 2000s were once so popular people nicknamed them “CrackBerries.” The devices became a status symbol and fixture for people on Wall Street, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, and even former President Barack Obama, thanks in part to its great reputation for security. At its peak in 2012, BlackBerry had more than 80 million active users.

But Apple’s touchscreen revolution with the iPhone in 2007 made BlackBerry’s offerings appear lacking. It tried touch screens and slide-out keyboard models, with little success. It developed a few phones with no physical keyboard, but those were missing BlackBerry’s key differentiator: its tactile keyboard.
BlackBerry eventually gave up on its own software, embracing Android and layering its security software on top.