BlackBerry will no longer make its most iconic handset

Goodbye, BlackBerry Classic.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

The new, old BlackBerry Classic.

Image: BlackBerry

BlackBerry will stop making one of its most iconic handsets, the BlackBerry Classic.

It's the most recognizable of BlackBerry's current handsets, with a 3.5-inch screen atop a hardware Qwerty keyboard and navigation keys. It's effectively an updated version of the Bold 9900 handset design.

Even when it launched in 2014, the BlackBerry Classic was an exercise in nostalgia, harking back to the days when most smartphones came with a physical keyboard and a modest-sized screen -- that is, before the iPhone came along.

"After many successful years in the market, we will no longer manufacture BlackBerry Classic," said Ralph Pini, BlackBerry's COO.

"For many years, Classic (and its BBOS predecessors) has been in our portfolio. It has been an incredible workhorse device for customers, exceeding all expectations. But the Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone in today's market," he said.

The handset may still be available from some carriers or unlocked online. The company said it will continue to support BlackBerry 10 OS, while adding Android devices to its portfolio.

"We continue to actively support sales of our BlackBerry 10 smartphones to customers in most markets," BlackBerry said. "We are focused on software updates for BlackBerry 10, with version 10.3.3 scheduled for next month, and a second update to follow next year."

BlackBerry still has two handsets with a physical Qwerty keyboard: the Passport and the Porsche-designed P'9983. Two other BlackBerry handsets -- Leap and Z30 -- have the touchscreen-only design favored by most users these days, while the Priv handset hedges its bets with a touchscreen and a slide-out keyboard.

BlackBerry was once a commanding presence in the smartphone market, but it has long since been overtaken by iOS and Android. And while there are still loyal customers, especially in government and big business (the physical Qwerty keyboard is a longstanding favorite among executives), the company is trying to pivot from being a smartphone-maker to a vendor of security and management software for all types of mobile devices.

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