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Ask HN: Do you still miss your RIM BlackBerry?
187 points by jaytaylor 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 259 comments
I still feel like it was a better communication tool compared to the smartphone touchscreens of today. Really miss the good old days.

I could type 55 wpm on the keyboard. Every time I use a screen keyboard I feel like I lose 10 IQ points. I can use a physical keyboard without looking, but the screen keyboard takes twice as long and consumes my full attention if I want any speed.

The blackberry felt like an extension of my brain on the internet. Touchscreen devices feel like an extension of the internet in my brain + eyes, not as nice.

I used my blackberry bold for years, then for months more after the battery swelled, until the charging port finally stopped working

I loved my blackberry's keyboard, but I adjusted to iOS on-screen keyboard (starting circa the iPhone 4S) pretty well. Last couple of years though iOS autocorrect has started to be extremely aggressive and frequently very wrong (incorrectly changing were->we're, ill->i'll for example. and today changing "Torvalds" to "Torshavn" or something when I was talking about Linus and not the Faroes).

If someone has a nice phone with a physical keyboard I'd seriously consider it when I replace my iPhone

SwiftKey is getting buggier but is still a massive step up from the default since it:

- works with more languages

- can be configured to suggest completions and corrections but not auto-apply them

(If anyone from MS/SwiftKey team wonders: these days if I delete a word and start on a new it shows both the original word and the best predictions for the new word. Thankfully it only inserts the new one - but sadly it inserts two spaces.)

And since this is a startup forum, some advice if anyone else reads this:

1. don't skimp on testers. Good testers are extremely valuable.

2. give us users a way to give you feedback! You get a lot of rubbish (I know, I am a dev who sometimes work on products with easily available feedback channels) but without it feedback like this ends up on open forums like here - or we are just silent and mightily annoyed and ready to forgive quite a lot from the next app/keyboard/service that actually fixes the stupid thing your product didn't fix.

I don't get how Swiftkey went from being almost perfect to being almost perfectly shit at predicting what I want to say. I've switched to GBoard and also hate it (e.g. it won't auto-capitalize "I" for me), but at least the predictions are usable.

I was wondering if that's a problem isolated to my first language, but apparently it got worse in English as well. Although, it surely can't be as bad in a language that doesn't have agglutination.

For example "olamayacakmış" ("ol-a-me-cek-miş", meaning something like "we found out that it isn't possible to make that happen in the future") was an easy hit before and I could write "olamyckms" and used to get predicted. For some reason not anymore.

Just wanted to share the bug (?) that reduced my mobile typing speed by 30% in a single hit.

Well... SwiftKey did get bought out by Microsoft, I wonder if that has had any impact.

> autocorrect has started to be extremely aggressive and frequently very wrong

First thing I do when setting up a new phone is turning off auto correct and auto capitalization. Yes, I still make mistakes, but I prefer becoming quite handy at using my backspace button than having to fight the auto correct all damn time.

Thank goodness it is not just me noticing that spell check and typing functionality is degrading!

I have also noticed that touch sensitivity has increased and decreased based on which app I am using. I used to never click on ads on Twitter, but now mistake clicks happen frequently (as an example).

I miss the BlackBerry days a lot, security and trustworthiness with the company was paramount as well and now that's all a fond memory... People laughed at the demise of the company's dominance, but I knew way back then that it was a key aspect of reliability that died with the company... sniff

I still have my old 3g Blackberry touch screen model, if things keep going bad I may try to get it reactivated (if that's even possible) and then grow a beard and move up to a log cabin in the mountains. :P

> I have also noticed that touch sensitivity has increased and decreased based on which app I am using.

...no way, really?! Could any iOS developers chime in on whether their are actually ways for apps to control this?

Autocorrect is an awful feature. Humans can easily determine from context which word was meant, if a letter or two are wrong. If autocorrect picks the wrong word, as it all too often does, the meaning is lost. Instead of a lousy typist, you come across as insane.

Yeah for all my complaining, autocorrect is still just about a net benefit but it’s MUCH less than it once was.

it’s funny how when it doesn’t work the negative feels is perhaps much stronger than the positive feeling when it works correctly

Autocorrect always picks the wrong word on android.

There appears to be some speculation about something changing on the iOS keyboard / autocorrect, causing it to get worse in the past few years. You're not alone!

Based on my experience with my iphone, I have a suspicion they've optimised somehow for people having fatter fingers. I've noticed that sometimes the auto correct assumes I mean to press a character next to the one I wanted.

This actually would make a lot of sense.

My previous guess was the original version had spaghetti code (ex: lots of hard coding edge cases), and they tried to move it to a more standardized / maintainable code block that hasn't been fully brought up to speed.

The guess was based on a interview video I saw discussing the various prototypes for the original iphone keyboard.

Meanwhile I think Android's has gotten a lot better.

This is interesting, I used Android briefly around 2011-2012 and found text entry to be quite frustrating so if it's improved I'll need to revisit it.

there all phone with phycical keyboard, unihertz, even blackberries drop new keybaord phone this year

I hope you did not type this comment on one of those :]

yes all the ML based ones feel like they're consistently adjusting to everyone in the world at once

I can learn to use a consistent kb, but I can't learn a moving target

Ahhhhh they added ML to the iOS keyboard input? No wonder it's behaving weirdly

I miss the full keyboard so much. I didn’t need predictive text, had real tactile feedback and that little wheel mouse was pretty good too.

The amount of typos and reliance on auto-correct (often incorrectly correcting) proves that this the touchscreen is a somewhat cackhanded input method, even with a full qwerty keyboard on a very large screen. I’m on iPhone Max Pro, still fat-fingering the keys while typing this.

Do you use Swiftkey-like typing on your keyboard? On my Android phone I find I can type so fast with it, and I barely have to look at the keyboard.

Swiftkey seems nice until you're not an english native speaker, which means you automatically write in 2 languages (native and at least some english). Now good luck having the keyboard guess which dictionary to use for every single word, which can even lead to mistakes if both suggest the same thing (capitalization). I care about not having a wrong word in the middle of every other sentence.

And even that doesn't change the simple fact that typing on it is cumbersome. Swiftkey is a little better on average, but still not even close to an actual keyboard.

I have GBoard in three languages, it guesses the language from the first few words and then 'sticks' to it for the rest of the message.

Occasionally it guesses the wrong language if the first word or two are ambiguous, but by manually typing out a word in the right language it quickly adjusts itself.

Or if some languages are only used occasionally, you can just put them on a dedicated keyboard and switch with a long press of the spacebar.

The greatest flaw of GBoard is that it doesn't treat space as just another character that could be mistyped, but as a delimiter that's always assumed to be in the right place. This makes the error rate ridiculous.

I always swipe with very few exceptions, so spaces aren't an issue.

Actually SwiftKey in multiple languages helps me write in the ones I am less fluent in, due to its autocorrect. I agree it can be annoying too... you have to be careful with activating languages, and I switch off the languages I am unlikely to use in the near future.

Still miss my BB though.

Edited to add: unlike other commenters here, I never use the glide feature in Swiftkey! I just use it as a better keyboard...

And the worst is if you write an English sentence with five common words, but the the AI is convinced the fifth one is actually a long and complicated German word. Our brave new world of shit AI keeps making me think about this goomics comic:


I used Swiftkey for a few years and thought it couldn't get better... until I found Fleksy.

The autocompletion is just superb and nowhere near anything I tried before. It's made for typing without looking or worrying about hitting the right keys, so if you're not really comfortable with Swiftkey-like typing, you might wanna give it a try.

Thanks for supporting Fleksy !

I try to use this but I reliably end up getting the wrong word, which leads to some strange swypo typos. Here's a quick test, what I wanted to type on top and what came out on bottom:

"I'm a good singer"

"In a good dinner"

Could you expand on what you're talking about? I'm having a hard time picturing it but I'm interested.

Swiftkey like keyboards (like … Swiftkey or the iOS one) are keyboards where you write your words by swiping your finger across the letters of the keyboard, releasing your finger between each word.

Like this : https://youtu.be/D2XyP7iUErI at 00:17

iOS has swipe to type built in.

I used Swiftkey for iOS recently, it’s no better than the built in option, and worse if you disable the spying “feature”.

SwiftKey is for some reason significantly worse on ios than android. I still use it because it has far better correction than the builtin keyboard and I haven't found any other that supports multiple simultaneous languages on ios.


Glide / Flow typing where you merely draw an approximate path of the shape that your typing would have followed.

It allows for very quick typing on a screen keyboard without the hammering of specific letters.

And you have to double-check what you've written because it often guesses incorrectly

Check for Swiftkey Keyboard app ;-)

any tips on how you learned it. I've never been able to get it right

> I could type 55 wpm on the keyboard. Every time I use a screen keyboard I feel like I lose 10 IQ points.

This precisely. I don't miss "BlackBerry the ecosystem" but I do really miss "BlackBerry the form factor".

For someone "into" keyboards (as in: taking the time to evaluate different switches to see which one I like best, for example), having to input anything on a smartphone is a really sad joke.

I've used to send text messages in the classroom without taking the phone out of my pocket. No-look writing was a thing :)

I managed to somehow type on the software keyboard without looking at it with a 95% or so accuracy. However I find that I’m only able to do so on my iPhone SE which is small size.

Do you ever try using a bluetooth keyboard with a mobile phone? They're certainly not as good as a nice mechanical keyboard, but they can improve the text input experience many times over a screen keyboard.

Has anyone ever designed a slide out BT keyboard for phones? It could be a single size part with attachments for the different phone models. Or a pop socket style where it just glues onto your phone/case.

That's a really good idea, I like it!

Try swiftkey etc, it's amazing

Reminds me of the Sidekick, but not the one that slides vertically but the one that spun around. God I wish they'd make a modern Android phone like it.

Honestly, that was my all time favorite phone.

It might be nostalgia speaking, but I feel like I loved and enjoyed that phone more than an iPhone.

Yes I miss it everyday, I feel so clumsy typing on a piece of glass, and make soo many typos. I could type BLIND without typos whole emails while maintaining a casual conversation (much to the annoyance of my girlfriend). There are a lot of BlackBerry-stans still on crackberry.com holding out on older and newer BlackBerry phoned (key2 being the latest).

Really loved my Q10 with bb10os and my Keyone running Android! Sadly security updates stopped so had to get a slab, and run Blackberry Inbox on it (unified inbox of all your messaging apps, it is quite nice).

BlackBerry licensed Onward Mobility to make another keyboard phone, although they promised one this year, they are so silent I would be surprised if they are able to.

Bb10 was really a supernice OS, a lot of android and iOS stuff is inspired by it. blackberry still has some amazing patents and software, so it isn't a goner, but no phones directly from them anymore, only licensees (India, Indonesia, and hopefully worldwide via Onward Mobility)

I never knew the glorydays of bb07, but sure know if they stayed succesfull then (I.e. made less catastrophic mistakes and made strategic choices away from business products when they had a significant mobile phone marketshare ) how cool it might have been now with them still in the mobile phone field.

I really am surprised that with of all models of Android phones in the world, no one is making one with a keyboard. Even if it was a niche product, you'd think there would be an audience...

I'm typing this from my Unihertz Titan Pocket, which was very successfully crowd funded recently. It's a good little phone. Prior to that I had a Blackberry Key2 whinch was pretty much the perfect Android phone IMHO. I have a Gemini PDA which is a great concept but the hinge isn't practical.

Before that a blackberry Passport which ran BBOS. Loved it too, at the time.

These devices do exist, and the niche is strong enough to support a small market segment.

I've been drooling over the Titan, but the lack of an AOSP-derived ROM for it is an absolute blocker. I do not trust manufacturer's firmware one iota, no matter what, and this is only getting worse over time.

The best thing Unihertz could do in my mind would be to dump a bunch of support and money at LineageOS and get their phones supported. Especially the one with the DMR walkie talkie; the lack of third-party support for those is crippling them.

It is actually quite hard to make a GOOD physical keyboard, BlackBerry has this tech down. Any BlackBerry clone (I had a couple before ending on BlackBerry, Nokia and Samsung). Titan pocket exists though, gets mixed reviews I believe but overall being 'not too bad', which is different than the love BlackBerry phones tend to get.

I had some old samsung phone with a sliding keyboard and it was really nice. Much faster than typing on an iPhone that's for sure not to mention you could do it with your hands in a hoodie pocket thanks to the tactile feedback. Seems like that would be pretty great again today, you get the full face as a screen then you just slide the phone in half when you need to type.

UniHertz Titan (kind of janky, but has a good hacking community), BlackBerry Key2, fXtec Pro and a few others. There is an audience, and we're out here being weird!

Same here - I absolutely don't understand how major manufacturers can completely ignore this market niche.

With all existing Android users, even if just 0.1% would like to have a keyboard you would still have a business ( https://www.businessofapps.com/data/android-statistics/ - assuming that only half of those 2.8 billion android users use a mobile phone and not a tablet or something else, that would still give you a market of 140M potential customers?)

Maybe it's about patents (keyboard tech)? And/or maybe Android users are really stingy (I would pay +50$ for an integrated keyboard, maybe most would not)?

Don't know, big mistery.

I had a sony xperia pro for a while, but performance was clagging no matter what custom Android build I used. I do miss hardware qwerty keyboards

The Xperia Mini Pro was the perfect form factor. Palm sized, qwerty slider. I replaced mine so many times that all my jeans had mini-pro-shaped wear patterns outside the pockets. I would pay so much for a version with modern specs.

Planet Computers in the UK make one inspired by the Psion 5 PDA. I have a Gemini which is still going strong, and have backed the Astro Slide which is just about to enter production:


Planet computers are making them, but based on Psion PDAs rather than blackberry. I had a Gemini, but physically it wore out rather fast, and the camera was rubbish. Not sure how good their next generation is.

I have/had a Cosmo Communicator, and your one-sentence review is accurate for it as well.

Fxtec pro1 has one. But I'm probably going to get a planet computers Astro slide since it does not have an annoying curved screen

> BlackBerry licensed Onward Mobility to make another keyboard phone

I would instantly throw away my IPhone (despite being happy with macOS/iOS) for a Blackberry like phone with LineageOS.

How about a GNU/Linux phone with a keyboard?


a linux phone is a blessing in it self, but this style of keyboard is not a blackberry substitute. it is basically turning the phone into a tiny workstation, which could be quite useful - but it can't be used when standing (or even sitting)

I like Motorola Droid4 keyboard. I'm still keeping them around, because of keyboard and HDMI. They still work.

Depending on what you define "Blackberry like" as, the F(x)tec Pro 1 is that. Physical keyboard (slider style, though) and officially supported for LineageOS.

I think they are security wise very closed, bootloader is encrypted or something so hard to guess if that would be possible. Still would be nice

I see that there are some unlocked blackberry phones up on ebay, so you could possibly buy one.


> I could type BLIND without typos

Yup. I could type accurately and drive at the same time (don't do that today, kids) simply because I didn't have to take my eyes off the road at all. Those little raised bumps on F and J keys helped.

The only BlackBerry I ever owned was the BlackBerry Classic, back when that was still contemporary. Best phone I ever had. The UX was very consistent between apps, everything targeting it natively tended to be quite speedy, and the keyboard was excellent.

I also miss the "BlackBerry Hub" feature, which would aggregate your emails, BlackBerry messenger messages, and SMS messages into a single UI. It even pulled in notifications from Android apps, though opening them switched to that app rather than letting you reply in-line.

I bought mine after they had already released Android compatibility for any APK you cared to load, but unfortunately I think that feature was too little, too late.

I've been on an iPhone SE since around 2016. If I had the option to go back to using the BB Classic hardware/OS as it was when I switched, but with third-party app support and security updates, I would do it without second thought.

I still want Apple to make a Hub thing inside iOS. I hate having to use 6 messaging apps to reach people I love, but as a 'data providers' I'd keep them installed.

Microsoft tried doing something like this with Windows Phone. It was OK, but the fundamental issue here is that the messaging apps themselves absolutely do not want such a thing, because it would commoditize them and keep the user away from revenue-boosting gimmicks and dark patterns. They will never allow it to be built. RIM was only able to do it before companies realized the value of messaging lock-in; even if it still existed in any real capacity today, this feature would not.

There’s startups focusing on this. https://Beeperhq.com and https://texts.com

Blackberry Hub was a thing of beauty. A single message queue for things I need to be aware of would make my life so much easier.

I agree, it was wonderful on a Passport.

But I do wonder what a mess would result if it had collided with mass market Android and the shovelfulls of sofware that treats the notifications like a 90s systray. BBOS 10 not being Android might have been a bit of a moat against that.

With the right API, it would have been great - I don't want a notification from Instagram that friend X liked my story, but if all app notifications were segregated by user, that firehose of notifications would be way more manageable.

This. I started with a BB Storm and stayed through several BB10 handsets up to the Passport. There was no second guessing the UX with Blackberry. The menu was always in the same place and Hub was great when you have so many accounts.

I found the UX in iPhone apps so irritating. Settings could be virtually anywhere and were commonly scattered across multiple places.

That said, I now use my iPhone very differently to how I use my Blackberry and I wonder if I would still appreciate Blackerry features if I go back.

By this I mean I get virtually no notifications. I don't have work emails on my iPhone and only the red badge icon turned on for personal email accounts. Whatsapp only fetches new messages when I open the app. The only app notification I get is from screen time every Sunday.

One of the best things about Blackberry was the subtlety of notifications but I've just chosen to go low-notification with iPhone and I don't think I'll ever revert that.

Windows phone had a hub-like UI, and I absolutely loved it.

Battery life (4-5 days) and being able to have an extra battery or being able to share is what I miss most.

I also miss the customizations for alerting. I would set personal colour coded alerts on the led - that was perfect. Customization of alerts is very limited on anything else I’ve used since.

The iPhone keyboard seems to be getting worse with its auto correct. If it gets any worse (or maybe it’s me) I will get to a point of wanting the physical keyboard back.

Modern phones seem to be like a bloated MS Word with 90% of features I don’t need. All wasted.

I was recently in an area with limited cell reception. My old Blackberry would have done its job only requiring limited data using the BES. I was amazed that some iPhone apps couldn’t even login. Using the house wifi that had +500ms latency some iPhone apps failed as well. Interesting to learn how little effort is put into low bandwidth or high latency situations. Blackberry had that nailed. But they were in the wrong end of the market for cell companies.

Wow, this looks like it's at like -2 or -3 or something. Extremely weird.

Regarding LED color, there are random apps for Android that let you play with the LED color on _some_ phones, like *goes digging in menu* this one: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.coolbeans....

Looks like the important bit is Notification.Builder->setLights, now NotificationChannel.Builder->setLights:

- NotificationCompat: https://developer.android.com/reference/androidx/core/app/No...

- Notification: https://developer.android.com/reference/android/app/Notifica... ("deprecated in API 26: use NotificationChannel")

- NotificationChannel: https://developer.android.com/reference/android/app/Notifica...

I just turn autocorrect off. I also find that if you turn off slide to type the keyboard works better, could just be my imagination though.

There is a bit of a break-in period when I first turn off autocorrect, as I find I adapt to leaning on it pretty heavily when its on. Pretty quickly I get more accurate, and its a lot less annoying fixing my mistakes than autocorrects. YMMV.

I did the same. I wouldn't even notice that it picked the entirely wrong word until I read whatever I wrote back after the fact, usually after I sent the email. Better to just have honest typos that are still the correct word than to lose all meaning with the wrong word.

The worst was when apple rolled out autocorrect for mac OS for some update. I didn't notice it had been automatically turned on for like a month until I read something I wrote and was confused. Shut that off right away too.

Yes! The alerting customization were awesome. Things like always break thru alert for person X when in silent mode.

I also think that the smart phone market is dead as far as new features go. Sure, there will be CPU or camera spec bumps but there haven't been compelling new features in years.

No one has yet mentioned the Blackberry Priv, an Android phone with a quality keyboard sold as recently as 2016. I loved it so much, but it recently stopped holding charge among other issues, so I had to get a new Samsung. I type an order of magnitude slower now, and I write constantly. But there is no alternative. I don't know if you guys are aware, but https://www.onwardmobility.com/ is supposed to release a new Android BlackBerry phone this year, although I got tired of waiting, because from what I recall, they kept pushing back the release date.

It's amazing how there's definitely a large section of the market who would buy a phone with a decent keyboard, but there's zero interest from the companies. Instead, we get the innovation of (what are in my opinion) gimmicky clam phones with two screens.

I currently use a Blackberry KEYone, which I chose solely because of the physical keyboard. I haven't had any Blackberry before so I don't know how it compares, but there's a good chance if they keep releasing ones with a keyboard, I'll keep going for them.

One feature that I'd definitely miss without it is, on the home screen, every letter on the keyboard doubles as two configurable shortcuts (short and long press). Also the "convenience key", which I've yet to see on other phones - also configurable to anything, I set mine up so Tasker does different things depending on time/day/location.

I use the Bixby key on my Samsung as a convenience key. Using a third-party app (bxActions), I have a short press mapped to play/pause like BlackBerries had, and a long press mapped to the flashlight.

There is also a hidden API permission you can grant using ADB that allows for long-pressing the volume buttons to skip tracks. I use this APK for that: https://github.com/Incineroar/skipTrackLongPressVolume

I switched to Key2 (currently on third...too many oopsies) after burning through two Priv, but I still know at least one serious Priv holdout locally (SWE wife of a EE friend) for strictly keypad reasons. The S8 did somewhat interest me due to its snap-on accessory keypad, but I couldn't get over paying a flagship pricetag and then some for a half-assed keypad that explicitly nerfs 30% of display real estate out the gate.

If OnwardMobility's eventual offering has a proper Blackberry-class keypad, it'll be an instant in for +2, and friend's wife will def be in for at least one as well.

You don't have to get a new phone because the old one "stops holding a charge". You can get the battery replaced.

There were other reasons too I didn't bother mentioning. The 4G network sometimes spontaneously disappeared, and my GPS would also be extremely inconsistent, dropping out most of the time. Very weird behavior.

Not at all. I got a few of my old BlackBerry's out last year during lockdown when I had a big organise in my home office. I charged and powered a few on because nostalgia hit a bit plus I had time to kill with being in lockdown.

Using them for just a few hours I realised how bad they are. The screens were awful, navigation was horrible, the keyboard hurt the tips of my thumbs and they were slow. So so slow. I don't remember them being quite as slow so perhaps it is battery related (although they were plugged in) but it wasn't great waiting 5 seconds for an attachment to load when I am used to it being instant on my 3 year old iPhone.

I know we are spoilt now with HiDPI screens and stupidly fast mobile SoC's but they really were horrible devices looking back.

Perhaps language such as "horrible" is unfair but it is the adjective that first popped into my head to describe the experience.

Yeah I carried a BlackBerry for work and switching to an iPhone 4 was astoundingly better. I could type way faster on the iPhone because I didn’t have to push those tiny hard little keys. Tap typing was way faster and easier for me.

The trick (which I think a lot of people never learned) was to just power through everything you wanted to write, and then go back and correct. A lot of typos got corrected by the software keyboard after I moved on to the next word or two.

Sadly, Apple changed their predictive typing system from rules-based to machine learning and it got worse in some ways. Still like it better than a Blackberry…

Did you ever use any of the newer BBs? The experience was much closer to that of the iPhone.

I agree. I had to provide tech support for Blackberry users before the iPhone. I personally was a Danger Hiptop user which I found to be much better.

The primary interaction on the Blackberry was the scrollwheel on the side and every action felt like scrolling through contextual menus endlessly.

Yes. The physical keyboard was so much faster and accurate vs the "on screen" version most phones have now.

The BB was also built like a tank. i once had mine fall off while i was running down 3 flights of granite stairs. It hit my leg on the way down and was kicked a good distance. After clearing the stairs, i put the battery back in and closed the door and it was good to go. Try that with a "modern" smart phone.

My personal favourite was the "blueberry" with the monochrome screen. Incredible battery life on that thing.

I think it was the BlackBerry 6200? they then made the same 'blueberry' but with a colour screen BlackBerry 7210 but it hurt the battery life.

I had a Blackberry Classic. The Android support was kind of garbage - but the physical keyboard was incredibly easy to type on and the trackpad was really helpful, and yes, the thing was built like a tank. I was once out running near some train tracks, had the Blackberry in one hand (I had no pockets and was probably using it for a stopwatch or a map or something), tripped on something, hands went out in front of me... and I broke my fall by slamming the Blackberry right into the steel rail. It was fine.

Removable batteries were amazing. I'm convinced they helped absorb drop shock when they'd explode out after a drop. Blackberries with the standardized batteries were an amazing time. You could swap it out with a friend in your group during emergencies.

Plastic screens (instead of glass) helped avoid cracks as well

Hell no.

RIM's approach worked well when the tech wasn't there yet for a pocket-sized device to run an actual mail client. To get the "full" Blackberry experience, there was a Blackberry Enterprise Server between your device and your actual mail server.

Once we started getting devices that could run straight-up IMAP clients, the biggest appeal of the platform was compromised.

I had moments early in the glass-rectangle era when I thought I missed a physical keyboard, and I definitely had physical keyboard devices that I enjoyed on at least a hardware level through about 2009 or 2010, but the overall functionality of a modern glass-rectangle far and away exceeds what I ever got out of a RIM device.

I vastly prefer on screen keyboards. I'm faster with them, it requires a lighter touch, and the auto correct is good enough.

What I miss about blackberries is that they were messaging devices, with OS level integrations around messaging that went beyond the notification system of today.

For 90% of messages i send, i could simply use a generic sms style interface through a system-wide messaging app, only jumping into the apps themselves from time to time. I think palm had that, but it was too little, too late.

unihertz makes a blackberry clone btw, check it out

I think you're spot on about the keyboard being rubbish, but overall bbm was great.

Everytime I upgrade my iPhone I find myself removing more and more apps. At this point all I really want/need is google maps, iMessages and... yaknow a phone. idgaf about anything else.

Which message services are you referring to? The most popular modern messaging apps wouldn’t work with the single interface nowadays. FBM, WhatsApp’s. I don’t know if third party integrations would be allowed so other apps could get integrated.

> modern messaging apps wouldn’t work with the single interface nowadays

The notification system on my phone already lets me reply. All I need is to be able to see text, emoji reactions, and a thumbnail of any photos. It's extremely reasonable for any advanced features to require me clicking the message and opening it in the app.

BB10 had integrated messaging. WhatsApp and other third-party apps were fully supported.

I miss my Pearl, but not the other BlackBerry devices I had.

I like how you could type on it without looking. It's been a decade and I still have typo issues with touchscreen phones. A post this long would likely have 4 noticeable typos if done on my phone.

I don't so much miss the keyboard on my pearl as much as I miss the form factor. It was so small, yet you could do so much with it.

man I really hate typing on a phone. I know im pretty fast but it still feels clumsy and I have to go back and fix at least a typo or two per sentence. Thats with autocorrect enabled.

It's just frustrating and I avoid doing much typing on it as much as possible. So much faster and easier with physical keys. I'm always inserting periods or something on an iphone.

No. The keyboard was nice and it was good for email (of that era) but I hated everything else about those devices.

I much preferred Sony Ericsson feature phones. Java games, much better MP3 player, and they had a browser too. Those always felt a lot more analogous to current smart phones than BlackBerry handsets did.

What I do miss is the HTC Dream. That was the best of both worlds. Smart phone with capacitive touch screen plus a slide out keyboard for more accurate typing. I'm surprised this form factor didn't explode in popularity tbh.

Pretty much my experience too. The keyboard: sure. The device was awful and the whole management service around it was just terrible. It made sense for corporate devices but not for consumer and the market just moved on from that. If there was a good Android device with a BB style keyboard at a reasonable price... I'd buy that right now.

I miss the small size of those legacy phones. I had a Samsung d500 for a couple of years and it was insanely small compared to the iPhone I have now. The Motorola Wings and Nokia 8850 were miniscule too.

IIRC the secret sauce of BlackBerry, before Android / iOS, was they used the mobile carriers to push notifications to the phone.

You had to usually pay for a expensive BlackBerry plan, but you got notifications immediately. It used the mobile carrier rather than keep a push notification data channel open.

Kind of wouldn't work these days what with so many notifications and background tasks, but you can definitely see why people loved them.

It actually kept a push notification channel open. It was just more optimized for low bandwidth networks.

My Blackberry was BY FAR the best phone I've ever owned for texting and email. It was so superior that it barely compares. I could type without looking, which is a HUGE feature when walking or texting discretely in a meeting (or a conversation).

There are a few must-have apps on modern smart phones, but I would ALMOST be willing to give them up for the convenience of the keyboard.

Oh man I definitely miss my BlackBerrys. I had a bunch of them over the years. Starting with one of the original truly email only devices (without phone functionality).

Every one I owned was awesome for different reasons, although they increasingly got more phone-like in features and form factor over the years.

The early devices were exceptionally well designed. They were limited (grayscale, limited email formatting features etc) but were perfectly suited to the job they were designed for. No feature bloat. I would also liken them to the first iPods. All the fat was trimmed away leaving you with something perfectly designed for its intended purpose. (Though obviously they weren't as beautiful to look at as an iPod).

Battery life was amazing. Form factor was spot on (pretty compact devices for the time).

They were great on corporate features and security too - though there was the overhead of running their server software, but it was well worth it.

As much as I like my iPhone, it's no longer a "phone" for me - it's definitely my primary personal computing device. When I go out I'm carrying around a powerful computer with way too many options and temptations. It often feels like too much. It's also no longer the smallest phone I've owned, which bugs me. I want something more compact to carry. I kind of hanker for a new portable device that I would take when out and about, that keeps me connected to the essentials but has a locked down feature set that prevents me doing too much. With crazy battery life. The original email-only Blackberrys totally hit this spot.

The closest thing in the Apple ecosystem is the Watch but that's still not quite the same.

I held onto my BB10 Z30 as long as I could. It's still the best phone I've ever owned. In the end as apps began to fail, I bought a Sony XA2 Plus and loaded SailfishOS onto it. It's quite good, but if someone resurrected the Z30 or developed an equivalent device I'd be back like a shot.

Incidentally I still use my Z30 regularly, and still love the way it integrates messaging and delivers a consistent user experience across all its apps.

To this day I think the touch sensitive keyboard of the BlackBerry Passport is absolutely revolutionary. Not sure if they just licensed it or created themselves, but I loved it. That was probably the one thing I loved about BlackBerries, and perhaps the touch gestures - no button and all, it was such a pleasure to use.

I miss my Sidekick2 (aka, Danger Hiptop2) That thing was a joy. Amazing typing speed. Best opening motion (quality of a fidget toy) and it ran a flavor of BeOS.

The Blackberry of millennials.. my wife had one too. We texted a lot back then.


Me too. My all time favorite phone. I don't remember another phone bringing me so much joy.

Obviously there's no going back - does anyone remember how much of a pain Google Maps was on the BlackBerry? - but I have to admit I miss some aspects.

The way BlackBerry integrated all communication channels into one place so it didn't matter which platform you were messaging someone on. The way you could just start typing on the home screen and would get suggested contacts etc. The fact that there were no awful "social networking" apps full of dark patterns to promote addictive behaviour (of course this came at the expense of just generally not having many apps).

> "BlackBerry integrated all communication channels into one place so it didn't matter which platform you were messaging someone on"

Windows Phone 7 did a great job at this. It put people at the center of the mobile UI rather than apps.

Sadly it was anathema to companies like Facebook who absolutely want you to enter their app and absolutely don't want to be API providers for a centralized user experience controlled by an OS vendor.

Positively surprised to see may people missing it. I do so as well.

Started with 9870, moved to 9900 then Passport, Q10, Priv.

Last model was a disappointment since it was android based.

Besides amazing keyboard, BlackBerryOS was just amazing piece of software, probably due to large RIM experience in real-time OSes. System had no lags whatsoever, everything was just working how it should be.

Miss it dearly.

> probably due to large RIM experience in real-time OSes

Nope. They acquired QNX. BB10 is based on QNX, which has been around for far longer than Blackberry and is the most solid OS I’ve ever used.

At the time, I was developing apps for BB10, Android and iOS at the same time. BB10 felt very well designed compared to the other 2.

QNX had been around since the 80’s. I’ve learned C on it.

IIRC it also used some Qt tooling for UI description that helped a lot. It was a very neat toolset for native development. That and the fact it ran Android apps better than Android thanks to the QNX kernel made it a very appealing platform.

I do miss it. It served one and only one purpose. Emails on the go. It was super fast to type and had an incredible battery life. I could type on the device without looking at the keyboard or the screen. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I didn’t adopt an iPhone early on. It’s hard to break out of muscle habits.

People who never used them might not grok the incredible battery life of the older Blackberry. The models with the DataTAC radio and the 386 CPU could go well over a month between charges. The little one that was shaped like a pager ran on a AA cell.

I used to own a BB Z30, which I bought after my q10 developer édition began having issues, and to this day I still think this is the best phone I ever used, primarily because of the BB OS. I had only owned iPhones before that and have owned both Android and iPhones since then.

I had the DevAlpha and it was an amazing phone. Still would look modern.

I never had a blackberry and miss it anyway. I loathe touch screens, you can't call anyone if it is raining, they are fragile, touch keyboard is super fiddly and I hate typing on it and so on.

I got myself a Kaios phone but unfortunately the manufacturer was so stingy on RAM that it keeps crashing every five minutes, so I am using a hand-me-down Android now.

I used to be the PM for BlackBerry at a telco, and I remember using the early GPRS models.

To this day I miss having a lightweight, pocket (well, belt-strapped) email and IM client that I only had to charge once a week.

The ergonomics and UX were great (the side scroll and select wheel was 90% of it really, not the keyboard itself).

I used every single model until the Storm. That was their first touchscreen model, which was so bad, buggy and unusable I persuaded our CMO to only buy 200 (which was a great decision, since in the UK there was something like a 25% return rate in the first week).

By then I had seen enough. I swapped my Bold for an iPhone and never looked back.

I wished I had a Blackberry when I was a much younger, but personally I miss Windows Phones a lot more.

Same. There was a time when Nokia's Lumia series with Windows Phone OS was all the rage in India - and for good reason. They were really good phones at incredible price points, their only drawback was that the number of apps on offer in the Windows Phone Store was very limited.

I wonder why they stopped making them. Later in life I passed my phone (I had the Lumia 520) on to my grandmother - and it was great because Windows OS had those HUGE app tiles that made it very easy for senior citizens to use them.

edit: changed Lumia 510 to 520

To me it seems they weren't content being a niche for whatever percentage of the market wanted phones that were simple, consistent, and didn't bother them. When Windows 10 Mobile came out, they started adding a bunch of useless animations, it became harder to use in every way. Although I guess the writing was on the wall by then. When I returned my phone they didn't even bother to ask why.

Yes I wish I tried Blackberry out as my first smart phone a bit before the first iPhone was out. However I miss webOS and Windows Phone so much too. WebOS had a unified messaging app. Back then you could integrate a couple of things like Skype in the texting app.

Windows Phones were awful in general but provided something that no full featured smart phone can: simplicity.

Notifications? Hardly. Browser? Barely works. Apps? Pshh. Instant messaging? I hope you like SMS! Games? There’s a couple good ones you never heard of that won’t be maintained.

But heck, if you want peace and quiet and while still offering the basics in good form, the Windows Phone couldn’t be beat.

The audio design of the Windows Phone was exquisite. The physical design of the Nokias was also excellent. It always felt to me like it was the phone that was most thoughtfully designed, and it just arrived too late to be able to compete realistically...who wanted to write apps for Windows phone when you could write for ecosystems that already had wide adoption?

If I remember correctly, the image quality on the Nokia/Windows phones were pretty good as well.

I do have a few contentions with your assessments.

I got my Windows Phone in the summer of 2013. It was WP8.

It had pretty fast notifications. In fact, I used to get real-time CNN notifications and I got information much faster than when what show up on the news channel. I even got wind of Nelson Mandela's death before Wikipedia made any edits and any obituaries made it to Google's first page.

The browser was Internet Explorer 11. It wasn't the best, but it performed well enough for reading articles.

Apps. I agree and that's still a problem almost a decade later.

IM was actually one of the strengths of the phone with the People Hub/Rooms feature. You could use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all in one application. I don't know why they removed in Windows 10 Mobile.

The games were mostly iOS ports, so quality varied, but many were well-known. Angry Birds and its myriad variations, Fruit Slash, Candy Crush, etc. It even got GTA San Andreas. But a distinctive feature for achievement junkies was that many of those games had Xbox Live integration (still works too). The phone also worked as a touch controller and remote with the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One.

You're right that it wasn't the most capable phone. But it offered a lot more than a refinement of the basic essence of a phone.

There were as so many features WP got right. My favorite was “kid mode”, which you could activate easily provided a simplified and more locked down experience for you little ones. You could hand your phone to a 2 year old and they’d be able to look at pictures, listen to music, or open those apps, but there was no chance they’d somehow reply to a work email with a picture of their nose.

It even let you set a max headphone volume so they wouldn’t hurt their little ears.

I really miss Windows phone.

I loved it when my UT Starcom windows phone would crash mid phone call. I was able to convince Verizon to give me a free upgrade to blackberry because it was so bad.

Do I miss my blackberry? Not really, but I do miss how excited I was to have a device that was actually useful. I feel like we're just iterating over the same base design these days, which is fine, but the excitement isn't there for me like it used to be.

I had one of the later (probably last) Windows Phones from Nokia, and I think they corrected a lot of these gripes by the end. Notifications were relatively okay from what I remember, and WhatsApp worked perfectly fine for IM. Never bothered with games, but I understand the app development landscape was quite awful with it.

Still, an absolutely stunning phone with the best screen I have ever used, and easily the best camera I have ever used. Of course, I dropped my budget significantly after that one broke, but it was truly magnificent.

As a former Windows Phone user, The Palm Phone is about as close to that experience as you can get to that experience of a smartphone that generally leaves me alone.

Of course, they only made one version, they botched the marketing by marketing it as a "companion phone" initially, and it was released in 2018, so eventually it won't be an option with modern apps.

I remember the BlackBerry Storm, the first touch screen phone by RIM launching at the same time as the iPhone 3G. No Wifi, slow janky scrolling, no apps (well, sure, if you don't mind downloading some random .jar that had to be recompiled for the custom fork they ran on that device). Felt like a rushed beta.

Meanwhile the iPhone just worked. Smooth scrolling, fast browser especially on Wifi. You could get apps from the AppStore that launched at the same time as the phone, no friction.

By the time the 3GS was released, if your firm still issued BBs you knew it was time to look around!

The storm was absolutely rushed to market. That's actually the reason that the whole screen was a big physical clicky button. Existing BB software was designed around cursor based interaction, and cursors can both hover and click. In order to release an iPhone competitor sooner RIM opted to create hardware that could separate "hover touches" and "click touches" rather than take the time to redesign their software for touch.

At least, this was the story as I heard it.

I was at RIM during this time and it was an absolute shitshow. It took so much in-fighting to get RIM to even address the iphone, so many people thought it was a passing fad and would never get polished enough to be a real competitor, despite the fact it was already destroying marketshare.

But even then, there wasn't enough buy in from the company at large with the device, and it was certainly rushed, I think almost intentionally to try to prove the point of how "bad" touch only phones were going to be.

How accurate is this globe and mail article? https://archive.vn/2017.01.16-035350/http://www.theglobeandm...

> Competition rising Mike Lazaridis was at home on his treadmill and watching television when he first saw the Apple iPhone in early 2007. There were a few things he didn’t understand about the product. So, that summer, he pried one open to look inside and was shocked. It was like Apple had stuffed a Mac computer into a cellphone, he thought. To Mr. Lazaridis, a life-long tinkerer who had built an oscilloscope and computer while in high school, the iPhone was a device that broke all the rules. The operating system alone took up 700 megabytes of memory, and the device used two processors. The entire BlackBerry ran on one processor and used 32 MB. Unlike the BlackBerry, the iPhone had a fully Internet-capable browser. That meant it would strain the networks of wireless companies like AT&T Inc., something those carriers hadn’t previously allowed. RIM by contrast used a rudimentary browser that limited data usage. > Publicly, Mr. Lazaridis and Mr. Balsillie belittled the iPhone and its shortcomings, including its short battery life, weaker security and initial lack of e-mail. That earned them a reputation for being cocky and, eventually, out of touch. “That’s marketing,” Mr. Lazaridis explained. “You position your strengths against their weaknesses.” Internally, he had a very different message. “If that thing catches on, we’re competing with a Mac, not a Nokia,” he recalled telling his staff.

BB built for the carriers. Apple builds for the consumer. Apple's logic was that AT&T was going to upgrade it's network, or else they'd switch to Verizon.

I think it also highlight a talent gap. Apple managed to squeeze a desktop OS on a phone, and get the best touchscreen on the market, on their first try. Blackberry couldn't even match the original iPhone two years after it's release.

> I was at RIM during this time and it was an absolute shitshow. It took so much in-fighting to get RIM to even address the iphone, so many people thought it was a passing fad and would never get polished enough to be a real competitor, despite the fact it was already destroying marketshare.

Oh that's for sure, even just before the iPhone came out they were all classing it as an iPod that could make calls.

What really turned things was RIM ignored the consumer market but when they started to pick on that, they did at the expense of the business base and the Storm was the end-result - half-baked for both and not fitting either. That whole period from 2007 on was a case of chasing consumer markets at the expense of the business customers. But the whole BIS/BES thang was often two sides of a coin.

But darn, the politics at Blackberry - I recall getting chastised for asking a question at a Townhall meeting when a one of the directors asked if any questions and I was balls enough to ask if we was ever going to do QA for the director to respond that they was looking into it.

See my other post about that on another thread. Summary: it was so bad that I persuaded my CMO to only buy 200 for the whole country. In the UK they had 25% (or more) return rates in the first week of sales.

We (in the marketing and terminal testing teams) eventually went out and printed T-Shirts that said “I survived the BlackBerry Storm”.

I had a business-provided Storm and it was sooo bad, I could hardly believe it was released to the public. The thing would reboot randomly, and an actual cursor would appear on screen!

I struggle to think of any redeeming quality on that phone. Even the tactile screen was a mushy mess.

Same as all the Windows CE / Windows Mobile devices. They were uniformly awful - no hardware acceleration for a start and some of them lost all your data if the battery ran out!

I really loved having the red notification light for when a message was received on my BB. Having to click a button on my iPhone in order to check whether I have a notification or not is quite jarring, and time consuming.

And like everyone else here I really miss having a proper keyboard. That thing was great.

Notification light is a feature that exists on a lot of android phones still, it's one feature I wouldn't want to lose.

Not quite the same and probably not as useful, but on iPhone going to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual is an option for LED Flash For Alerts. This probably isn't as useful because the flashing only occurs when the notification arrives and isn't a persistent visual indicator like I assume the BlackBerry light was.

I liked that on BB10 it went full RGB so you could guess what the message was about by looking at the phone.

Just as a heads-up: BB10 BlackBerry’s are ‘bricking’ in January 2022 - all the associated server infrastructure is being turned off.

Now imagine that all of our computers would run an OS like the one underlying the BlackBerry (QnX), the responsiveness was to a very large degree a direct effect of having a soft real time OS as the basis to build the rest of the applications on.

Unlike Java, QNX has no warning against using it to control a nuclear reactor in the EULA.

That says something ;-)

In fact, QNX really is used in nuclear power plants https://www.itbusiness.ca/news/nuclear-plant-powers-up-on-re...

It's rock solid. We ran a pretty large installation of these to control a sizeable fraction of the worlds flow of container shipping. Over the course of the project there wasn't a single outage attributable to the OS or the application itself.

I remember an ad where they mentioned a computer running QNX that was booted once and turned off once, when it was decommissioned 10+ years or so later.

Totally believable, in fact, that would be the expectation. Other than hardware failure it should just work.

Since Swype-style virtual keyboarding came about, I lost my nostalgic feels for the BlackBerry. But the in-between times were miserable.

i wouldn't have moved to full touch-screen without swype. the state of affairs on ios was unacceptable for years after android had swype.

But after getting sick of the crap we had to put up with to keep on blackberry (blackberry services, anyone?) while other platforms were quickly overtaking, i never looked back.

Yeah. The Bluetooth implementation was stellar, RIM implemented basically everything in the Bluetooth spec. You could send and receive pretty much anything, it would just do the right thing, and it could source and sink audio streams. They even released a tool to make it act as a HID keyboard for other devices.

The camera sucked even compared to other smartphones of the time, though, and that limited its usefulness for a lot of the tasks I've done with subsequent phones.

Also it took about 6 minutes to boot up after a battery swap, which limited the usefulness of a removable battery. (Yeah you can carry a second and just swap it in, but whatever task you're doing must not be very urgent!)

Oh you were asking about email and SMS and stuff? Yeah those were great. It had really good clipboard support which was before its time, and the contacts database manager thing was just the right amount of powerful without being overly complicated.

I still have my Key2. Sending mails/WhatsApps/Slack/Messenger messages takes me half the time it takes someone on a touch-screen phone. It's the best BlackBerry I've ever had - I had an iPhone and a couple of Android phones for a while, but I just couldn't get as much stuff done. Those keyboard shortcuts - once you get used to it it's so fast. And I can touch-type on it!

These days I get people asking "what's that?" when they see my BlackBerry. Some of them then go "whoaaa, cool idea, a keyboard on a phone, I want one of those!" Others just say "do they still make those?"

Yeah. Had a Passport.

Miss the keyboard with touchpad gestures, keyboard shortcuts, the Blackberry Hub and how pleasant reading text on the screen was.

I held on to my Z30 for a long time. Even bought one off eBay when mine died rather than get an iPhone. Caved once it was clear that the company was dead though, as I couldn't use any apps.

Yes, absolutely!

This may be nostalgia talking, but I loved (most) of my Blackberry devices. Certainly in the earlier part of its ascent, through to its heyday, it was indisputably the best at what it was supposed to do: emails (and messaging more generally).

I was able to type much better on my BB, although these days I'd miss the multi-lingual autocorrect of a SwiftKey. But not BBs were made the same: I remember upgrading my BB once to a newer, fancier model (I have long forgotten the designations) but its keyboard felt inferior to me. Keyboard feel is subjective of course, but I that one was a big step backward in my enjoyment of typing. I quickly switched to a newer model.

At one point I was forced to an HTC Blackberry-lookalike. I think it was a Windows phone, and while it looked similar, it was infinitely worse to use. I was happy when I could go back to a Blackberry again, and I kept using them until the last servers were switched off at my company.

I could be on the road for a few days without taking a charger too. I would only pack a charger for longer trips... but that had started to erode towards the end too.

Blackberry had a long afterlife in Indonesia; it must have been around 2014 or 2015 when I visited Jakarta and the one phone to have was a Blackberry, presumably due to its network-effect lock on the messaging market.

Meanwhile my Samsung's battery is down to 53% barely halfway through the day.

I had an 8830 and I absolutely loved it. The keyboard was magnificent. I still do not understand how, despite being a daily user of iPhone/android on-screen keyboards for about ten years, I can barely type a single word without typos, backspaces, and functional-idiot-grade autocorrects. This was never, ever a problem with the BB. If they’d kept the physical keyboard form factor and added a reasonable touch screen/OS/UX like the iPhone, I would still be using it.

On Android, have you trying installing Google’s gboard and swiping? It is like a superpower for typing fast, and so few people with Samsung seem to discover it (and most iPhone users are not aware of what they are missing).

I was wondering this while scrolling through the thread.

I swype too :)

I had a Blackberry classic until a month ago when AT&T sent me a new phone in the mail with a letter saying they would deactivate my Blackberry automatically due to 5g.

I hate my new phone. There is absolutely no way I could effectively type without autocorrect. And because I won't sign in to Google, I can't install apps or use turn by turn navigation, so I'm essentially where I started with my blackberry. "Progress".

Maybe a poll would have been a better approach ? HN has a little used poll feature.

I had several Blackberry devices but the one I remember the most was my Blackberry 10. I still think it had superior gesture support and navigation compared to any phone I've used since then. And it had, at least from what I could tell, great build quality and sturdiness. All around a great device. And it allowed me to support an underdog competitor.

I am still using Bold 9780, not for the nostalgia but for the functionality, as limited as it might be today. I left my first (old) number in it, when I migrated to iPhone/Androids, with new numbers.

Today it serves quite well, as a notification/SMS/OTP and backup emergency device; bank(s), medical contacts, old friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. I receive no junk/spam calls, whatsoever.

The battery lasts two weeks approximately, with no WiFi, Bluetooth turned on. No BIS -- it is basically a 3G phone, and also on a completely different network to my other phones. If only the functionality of a softphone/SIP app could somehow be re-instated, I would endeavour to keep it alive for as long as possible.


> If only the functionality of a softphone/SIP app could somehow be re-instated

Sip.fm has worked fine for me in the past, as recently as a couple months ago.

Love my BlackBerries - Quickly bought a stack of them before RIM's de-facto demise. I had the Pearl, Curve, Bold, and Classic models, and the Curve had the best ergonomics of all, and was the most liked mobile electronics device that I ever spent money on (followed by a Sony DiscMan CD player in the early 90s).

Touching glas is just unpleasant.

Never had a Blackberry, but I do miss my Palm Treo with the keyboard. I could touch-type messages without looking at the phone or keyboard. This was extremely useful in a number of different situations.


We have a lot of positive nostalgia, so time for some negative views :D I hated most every blackberry I owned. Stupid, clumsy and bulky devices.

BlackBerry was not that massive a shift from the standard. It was just _slightly_ different to what feature phones of the day were doing. Sony Ericson had some P800/P900 devices that clouted the BB in terms of power and feature sets. Here's a quick roundup of why I don't hold BB in high regard

1. BBM was not unique or innovative. Many a chat app had existed on J2ME devices LONG before RIM were a thing.

2. BB launched apps from a Main method, making architectural changes all but impossible going forward. This also lead to that goddamned spinning hour glass that needed a device restart to resolve.

3. Not many claims about their security and compression turned out to be true. Whilst the encryption was excellent, handing over the keys to various governments was not. The compression I remain unconvinced about, many a conflicting report out there.

4. Ultimately RIM were unable to execute on the BB platform in a meaningful manner. They were very quickly outclassed by Google and Apple despite an incredible market lead. Looking back, blackberry always felt like a polished proof of concept but not quite production grade. Even low level Android devices had a more polished feel. Touchscreen became popular for a reason, BB pretty much refused to believe it was more than a fad. Then they made the Torch, and they deserved to die at that point. I loathed how useless and unpredictable that phone was at being a phone.

5. This one is subjective: Those keyboards were utter garbage. I could do 60 wpm on a t9, and that was slower than most people I knew. None of those people could match their speeds on a BB. Today's touchscreen keyboards are worse, so point there.

I don't miss my blackberry, but I do miss BBM and that time of my life.

I do miss some of my old feature phones though, such as the Samsung D600 and the Motorola V3 Razer

I loved my P800 and how easy it was for doing voice dialling without sending my voice over to be processed for recognition.

You just recorded yourself saying the name and that was it. It was simple and brilliant.

Why no one has tried making a keyboard accessory (like the P800 had built-in) for smartphones is a mystery.

The only thing that I miss from blackberry physical keyboard is that I think that one handed typing is easier with a physical keyboard. Other than that no, I am one of those from that strange minority that actually likes iPhone onscreen keyboard. And I am not even a frequent swipper.

I definitely miss the keyboard and the fact that it was a device optimized for writing.

The audio out was damn good for its time too.

If I could have another Bold 9700 but with modern internals and apps, I would be a happy phone owner indeed.

My first phone was my dad's Blackberry Curve 8520 and it had Whatsapp and Brickreaker, two of my favourite pastimes at the time. I could also type on it crazy fast, it had a crappy web browser but even then, I would discover a whole lot about the internet, both good and bad.

I miss the BlackBerry, but I don't think it's the hardware itself that I miss, but rather the technological leap it afforded us back then. Being able to send/receive email anywhere was a novelty unlike any other, as was instant messaging with BBM.

I never got to try Blackberry. I wish I tried it around the time the first iPhone came out and I was getting my own phone. iPhone I did get webOS and Windows Phone between 2009-2012 though and miss them both dearly. WebOS had an attempt at a unified messaging app. Back then you could integrate a couple of things like Skype with texting. I can’t recall what else could be added. It has been so long.

WebOS also was open and friendly to the homebrew/rooting/jailbreak community and apps were being made in JS/html/css. This preference depends on the person. It would have been nice to see the side effects of using web technologies on phones. Today it’s all about the web on desktop and apps on phones.

Yeees. Make a phone with a keyboard as easy to type on as that one and I'm customer number one!

I loved my BB Bold. It’s still snappy for most part. Of course don’t bother where internet speed is concerned (802.11b probably was the best it could do). Loved the keyboard and the optical trackpad. It’s more than just nostalgia.

BBs were great at encouraging multi-tasking in the real world (typing an email while looking at someone and having a conversation). Our large display touchscreens of today are better at better at multitasking on the phone (using multiple apps, switching between them). Android is arguably better here, so a future Android based BB could still deliver on the holy grail experience that marries the two.

The Bold had an 802.11 a/b/g radio and it could seamlessly hand off a call from VoIP over Wi-Fi to the cellular network with UMA. Truly ahead of its time.

The Bold also had a weird feature that nobody cared about: its SDHC card reader was legitimately fast. They actually implemented their own SD card interface hardware, proving that they had engineers to spare and absolutely no idea what to do with them all.

I do, a lot.. no one since has managed to integrate sms and email quite so smoothly either.

I really don't miss the RSI and cramps I used to get from it though. I realise that's a partly my own fault, but still.

No, it was garbage in 2011, no wonder they’re out of business.

My first “smartphone” through Verizon was the 96xx berry, the first time I did OTA update for OS it wiped 90% of my contacts. On crackberry they told me it was a “computer” and you need to update it tethered to a computer.

Then one time I tried to download a local bus schedule with it in pdf format, it wouldn’t open pdf natively and pointed me to some $40 app - all in the meantime my friend’s “iToy” 3GS opened the same pdf in browser with no issues.

As soon as Verizon got the iPhone4 I never had anything else.

I'm on my third Key2, having previously churned through two Priv (first true Android smartphone). The Priv had a superior hardware UX while it lasted; compute and software maintenance eventually caught up to it though.

Before that, several Curve variants. Still before that, Palm Treo 755p and 650. Despite the habit of always dropping them (out of lap and onto concrete/asphalt while egressing car), none ever actually broke...a bad (and expensive) habit to retain with smartphones, especially since having a protective case is a non-starter for me.

I actually used the latest Android Blackberry (Key 2 LE) until a month ago when it slipped from my pocket and fell from the first floor balcony.

I really, really wanted to get another hardware keyboard, but the Key 2 is both dated (Android 6 IIRC) and commands ridiculous collector's prices.

And there are no newer ones - Fxtec has vaporware that has its release pushed back three times already, and the new owner of Blackbarry apparently has announced a new phone, but nothing concrete yet.

So I have a "normal" phone now, but really don't like to use it for typing.

There are some capacitive physical keyboards to put on the screen of some Samsung models.

Unfortunately it seems that the corresponding firmware or apps only exist for the Korean versions of the customized Android.

That's too bad, because I love the concept.

I'd love that to be generalized to other models and other brands too.

The BlackBerry smartphone not so much. It might be a personal deficit, but I found myself often misunderstanding longer e-mails when reading those on that tiny screen. Eventually I just used it to be notified about new messages and then seek a proper computer / screen to digest those before answering. As a notification device, the old pagers worked better, as they used FM radio with better coverage / penetration. I miss those.

Not the way the question is phrased, I never had a RIM BlackBerry, but I have a TCL KeyOne right now and I love it. For all my life I only had phones with keyboards, and KeyOne was the only one available at the time, and I wouldn't buy a phone without a keyboard. I really hate typing on glass, can't do it with a basic keyboard and I refuse to rely on some spyware to constantly correct me for a low price of sending every single word I type to a third party.

The AOSP Keyboard on degoogled Android ROMs don't send what you type to a third party, it does the auto-correction offline. For the Google Board, which is based on AOSP Keyboard, I'm not sure. There are also open source keyboards that have some sort of offline auto-correction too.

However this does not solve the typing on a glass. For that you have Bluetooth keyboards. The problem is that you now need to grab two things to type stuff. That could be a good trade off: you have the keyboard for long messages and can still send quick things on the glass.

Or, you might be interested by the Pinephone with its keyboard case! I have the Pinephone but not the keyboard case, but considering the option. For now I type most things from the computer, glass is good enough for the rare times I don't have my computer. It does not have auto-correction, and I am surprised it does not miss me that much.

What's a TCL KeyOne, it doesn't Google for me.

KeyOne, KeyOne silver and Key2 were all made by TCL, no BlackBerry. The phone is still being sold as a BlackBerry device with all the BlackBerry software, but it's not RIM BlackBerry.

I miss it. I still have one! The keyboard wasn’t the only physical bonus of these devices that was cool. The dedicated play/pause button on the very top was also a really neat feature.

A friend of mine had some elevator music* queued up at all times, and would turn it on surreptitiously when riding.

*Radio Prague from Machinarium: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EY5XRt7iBUI

I missed old dumbphone, so I went ahead and bought old Samsung. It works wonderfully. Of course all its Internet services are dead, but who cares. It can call and SMS, it's sturdy and convenient, I have no idea when its battery will be discharged (it's 2 weeks and battery at 3/5 bars).

I tried to buy modern dumbphones, but they're terrible. Slow laggy UI, not built well, battery life is bad. Humanity lost its secrets of producing good mobile phones.

Yes. One of the things I miss the most about Blackberry was how easily repairable they were. I had a bunch of parts in a box in my desk drawer back in the day when I was the Blackberry/BES guy for a company and employees would come to me to do in-house repairs. They were easy to work on, for the most part pretty resilient to abuse, and the keyboard was fantastic. No phone has had a better keyboard than Blackberry.

Miss blackberry phones with physical keyboard, once I got familiar with it, it didn’t matter if I was responding to sms or email it was always pleasure to type up the response. Also having media keys on top of the phone meant I could switch between songs by just pressing down on those when phone was in my pocket. Now you have to tap your wireless headphones and imaginary keyboard no feedback and pleasure for your fingers

My Blackberry Passport is still quite awesome. Apps are snappy and if all of the services weren't unusably out of date I'd still daily carry it.

Loved them, and would have switched to the Key2 line were it not for the prospect of using Android as-is. I opted for LineageOS on a cheap phone instead. Maybe there will be proper custom-rom support for those devices one day.

The first BB phone I tried was the Curve 9320 and it remains the most responsive, perfect phone I've ever experienced. The BB10 devices were decent but came far too late.

I miss my Nokia E61.

I maintain that in 2007 I fell into a parallel & incomprehensible reality when people started valuing slightly bigger video screens over self-expression.

Back in the original universe, everyone is happy with a variety of keyboard sizes on their phones, they are more eloquent online, and so the internet there is much less full of misunderstandings and rage.

I hope the next leap ... will be the leap home :(

initially - i just didn't think the first rollouts of on screen keyboards were that good.

I got android devices that always had a keyboard. It wasn't until Swype (discontinued - RIP) and SwiftKey that I really felt onscreen keyboards offered a lot that allowed them to surpass physical keyboards.

The eventual inclusion of touch-vibrate feedback on button push was a good add on too.

now there's really no point to blackberry.

Completely agree. I was on to them around 2007-8 and embraced them completely. My first device was Bold with BIS. Subsequently, I realised BES was better and experimented with that. It was a superior experience to the present devices. The keyboard was my second brain. The devices made me super fast, efficient and useful.

The problem with Blackberry for me it was the bad dev ecosystem that you had, poor documentation, hidden features, some nice ideas like OTA updates that were replaced with stuff like play stores, the need for the carriers to connect to RIM to make some use of the vpns, etc

When it worked was really nice, but the dev exp wasn't pleasurable at all

Not anymore. I missed it for a couple of years but I left my technical nostalgic conservative self behind and I think typing by just approximately swiping over the letters the word in question is made of is much faster, convenient and (by today's standards and mostly AI-driven engines) less error prone. And yes, I am using multiple languages.

I think the BlackBerry 7230 was the most effective communication device ever made. It had zero distraction, Zero clutter. Only blazing fast Mail, Text, Calenders and Phone/Contacts.

I do miss my Treo. I preferred it to my Blackberry. Both were better and less distracting than my current ad-presenting spy box.

The Treo 650 was my first smartphone, followed by the OG iPhone, the Blackberry Pearl, and the Nokia N900. At the time, the iPhone was actually a step down from the Treo but my Palm phone had died a watery death and they weren't available anymore from my carrier so I went with the iPhone. This was before the App Store, so everything not already installed was a web app and they all sucked back then.

After just a few months of suffering on the iPhone, I went with a BB Pearl, which was hardly better app-wise but much better as a communications device overall. As soon as the N900 dropped I bought one at full price and I was back in smartphone nirvana. Of course, by then Android phones had hit the scene and the iPhone had vastly improved, and the N900 started feeling slow and cumbersome compared to my coworkers' and friends' devices.

Later my love for the Nokia device transferred to Windows Phones, which I still maintain were the best smartphone paradigm ever made. For once I felt Microsoft finally "got it right" on the OS design and people-centric interface. I sorely wish they still made phones with mobile Windows 10, but I get why they left the market.

The WP interface was an aesthetic delight. I miss it

The Treo 755 is the best phone I have ever used, hands-down. I actually have it on life support in the other room (even though its radios lost carrier support years ago - CDMA), simply because some of the apps are really useful and have no modern analog (cough, MathPad, cough...)

I loved my centro. My first “smart” phone

When I came to states in 2012, missed using a phone with physical keyboard. Got a used Bold 9700 on eBay for $100 and instantly fell in love with it. Optical trackpad complimented the physical keypad. Sometimes I wonder why Apple hasn't used the home button as optical trackpad, atleast in the pro models.

I use swiping a lot. It is still worse than full-size desktop keyboard, but combined with right suggestions is on par with shallow notebook keyboard. Never had a smartphone with physical keyboard, can't compare.

For me it was the ios keyboard circa ios5 or 6. I was soooo fast on that thing. It got worse for a while and now the current ios keyboard is about 80-90% as good.

This comment presumes your question is primarily focused on text input.

iOS 7 ruined a lot of good things about iOS in general.

Yes, even though I use a Blackberry Key2 as a daily driver I still feel like there is something missing. I was using a Blackberry Classic before and the combination of the trackpad and BB10 was such a nice experience.

In a way, because the physical keyboard was so much better for typing. But typing text was all I did with my blackberry. Now my phone is so much more general purpose that a BB form factor wouldn’t suit me.

I wonder why there isn't keyboard flip out phones like the danger hiptop or the first android g1 phone. I guess people don't like to type that much in reality.

> I still feel like it was a better communication tool compared to the smartphone touchscreens of today.

Your daily reminder that newer is often not better, and the market frequently rewards regression.


Every so often I go looking for a keyboard kits -- I'd like to make a BB-style phone but with a nice OS/UI, but I don't want to do Linux or Android.

I miss having a really solid keyboard. I don't miss the OS.

I really enjoyed my 8330, I really used it "like a computer', I was writing blogs out of it. Only thing is the rolling ball mouse don't miss that (dirt).

Tangential but I find more recent narrower iPhones to have made quick accurate typing almost impossible for me, would swap back to a 7+ if it was suitable.

Yeah but I know its more of a nostalgia thing. I wouldn't trade my iPhone for one, but I would love them to have been able to exist side by side.

Yeah. I've had to use a touch screen keyboard for ten years and I still mistype constantly, on top of it taking ages.

I dearly, dearly miss my Blackberry Bold.

Back in the day there was a webcomic portraying the life (of the developers?) at RIM. Does anyone know if there is an archive of this webcomic?

I don't really miss RIM software, but I have yet to learn to love a phone which lacks a physical keyboard.

I am very content with my BlackBerry Key2.

I miss my Palm Treo devices. If someone could give me a form factor like that with GrapheneOS or iOS I would be willing to pay a lot of money.

yes, and I used the newer TCL handsets while they were still feasible.

everyone thought I was mr.bsns at every meeting; despite personal feelings around attractive bezel-less displays, when someone puts a full keyboard down on the table, it sends a really clear signal.

the apps that broke because of the weird aspect ratio were apps that weren't well-engineered / worthy of my attention anyway :^)

I still use a Blackberry Classic as my daily driver (I say "still", but I was on Android until mid-2020). It runs "old web" sites like HN perfectly, and supports PC integration (via Blackberry Blend) right out of the box.

I've gone out of my way to switch to a provider that still supports 3G voice calls, but even they're switching off their network in April 2022. I'm not looking forward to that day.

Can I pour one out for my old Treo 680? The best phone I owned until much later iterations of iOS and Android.

Never had a Blackberry (although their keyboard was clearly the best), but I desperately miss my old Treos (and to a lesser extent, the Qualcomm Palm phone that preceded them.) Other than the lack of a modern browser and physical thickness, they were better in every way than today's touchscreen "smart" phones - better at finding contacts, making calls, texting, taking notes, etc. Battery life was sometimes better than current smartphones - I once left my Treo charger at home on a trip, but decided it wasn't a problem that needed to be addressed since it was only a 3-day trip and I could minimize phone time. I'd argue their app ecosystems weren't inferior, either, even though they were much smaller. (Let's face it, 99+% of the AppStores are "Apps of Crap"...)

For just straight email and business functionality yes. I'd love to just get a blackberry for work.

Yes I miss the physical keyboard. I tried some android phones but it’s not the same. They got it right.

Me too. I lost many an hour playing brick-breaker whilst sat on the toilet instead of working.

Nope. Have some nostalgia for Danger Hiptop though, aka T-Mobile Sidekick.

The engagement on this makes me think this is a problem worth reverse-disrupting.

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