Photos: BlackBerrys through the ages

Taking a look at the BlackBerry devices from the earliest right up to the present day.
By ZDNet Staff, Contributor
1 of 34 ZDNet Staff/ZDNET

ZDNet takes a look back at how the BlackBerry device has developed since the first BlackBerry hit the shelves more than a decade ago.

RIM 957

This is the RIM 957, one of the early 'wireless handheld' devices from RIM -- as BlackBerry was once called -- launched in 2000. Packing mobile email and a Qwerty keyboard, it was only sold in the company's native Canada. It was also notable for having no mobile connectivity -- so no voice calls here.

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BlackBerry 5820

2001's 5820 was the first voice-enabled BlackBerry, using GPRS in Europe, and had email, SMS and browser functionality. It also packed a hefty 8MB of flash memory.

The 5820 was one of the first BlackBerrys offered by BT Cellnet, now O2.

3 of 34 ZDNet Staff/ZDNET

BlackBerry 6720

The 6720 from 2002 was not a massive step up from the 5820 but it was the first to have an onboard speaker and microphone and could be used on European and US networks.

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Blackberry 6210

The Blackberry 6210, introduced in 2003, was designed to be much easier than its predecessors to hold in the palm of the hand. The Java-based device packed 16MB of flash memory, a more stylish design and five hours of talk time.

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BlackBerry 7100V

There was a change in look in 2004 as RIM eschewed the traditionally staid black-and-blue housing in favour of this vibrant red casing.

The 7100V was similar in size to a normal mobile phone and had similar functionality to its larger siblings, but without a full Qwerty keyboard. It even had polyphonic ringtones.

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BlackBerry 7100X

Launched in 2005, the 7100X was similar in its design philosophy but also offered Bluetooth and quad-band capability.

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BlackBerry Curve 8320

By 2007, RIM had started to include wi-fi in its devices, including this Curve 8320.

As well as wireless connectivity -- opening up the possibility of VoIP -- the Curve 8320 made a step up in the camera front, with a two-megapixel included.

8 of 34 BlackBerry

BlackBerry Pearl 8100

Having bent the enterprise to its will, RIM started to target the consumer segment with the launch of the Pearl in 2006.

One of the most obvious changes brought in for the Pearl was the addition of the trackball, replacing the thumbwheel previously used for navigation.

The Pearl 8100 was also the first BlackBerry to sport a camera, featuring a 1.3-megapixel snapper.

9 of 34 Amosu

BlackBerry Pearl 8120

By 2008, the BlackBerry was making its way firmly into the non-business user segment, as this blinged-up mobile shows.

Luxury gadget maker Amosu gave the BlackBerry Pearl 8120 a very expensive makeover with the Limited Diamond edition, of which only 20 were made.

The device's sides and base are made of 18-carat gold, and it sports 900 hand-cut diamonds.

10 of 34 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

BlackBerry Bold 9000

In 2008, RIM debuted the first of its range to have HSDPA connectivity.

While it wasn't the first device to have some version of 3G connectivity, it was the first to be compatible with the higher speed version of the standard. It was also atypical among BlackBerrys, with most still using Edge -- also known as 2.75G -- as their primary standard.

11 of 34 BlackBerry

BlackBerry Pearl 8220

2008 also saw the introduction of the first clamshell device into the BlackBerry portfolio with the Pearl 8220, also known as the Pearl Flip.

The handset had two screens and a two-megapixel camera but no 3G.

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BlackBerry Storm

2008 represented another departure for RIM as it introduced a touchscreen handset for the first time, perhaps inspired by the success of the iPhone, launched the year before.

The Storm went for a clickable touchscreen and offered two types of virtual keyboard -- in portrait mode, it showed two letters per virtual key; in landscape mode, there was a full virtual Qwerty.

The HSDPA device included a 3.2-megapixel camera, GPS, an accelerometer and high-res screen for video playback, but had no wi-fi.

13 of 34 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

BlackBerry Storm2

By 2009, RIM had created a successor to the Storm with the imaginatively titled Storm2.

The device included wi-fi, unlike the original Storm, and a retooled, easier-to-use touchscreen that allowed users to execute multikey commands.

14 of 34 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

BlackBerry Bold 9700

2009 also saw the advent of the first European-designed BlackBerry, the Bold 9700. According to RIM's co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, the one common request of users of the original Bold was to make it a little smaller. "It was a little too bold for some," the co-CEO joked.

The Bold 9700 was smaller and lighter than the original and featured a higher resolution display and a camera with more pixels -- up from two to 3.2 megapixels.

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BlackBerry Pearl 3G

2010 saw RIM thinking small, with the introduction of the tiniest BlackBerry and the first of the Pearl range to have 3G connectivity.

The device, known as the Pearl 9100, was aimed at those new to the smartphone market and carried an optical trackpad for navigation as well as a 3.2-megapixel camera.

16 of 34 BlackBerry

BlackBerry Torch

RIM's first slider device, the BlackBerry Torch, arrived in 2010, sporting a capacitive touchscreen -- which supported pinch-to-zoom -- and a hard Qwerty keyboard.

The Torch was also notable for being the first to run the latest OS, BlackBerry 6, which featured a refreshed UI and a WebKit browser.

17 of 34 BlackBerry

BlackBerry Style

The clamshell form factor resurfaced in 2010 with the launch of the BlackBerry Style -- the first flip-phone to have a full Qwerty keyboard.

The smartphone runs the BlackBerry 6 OS but has no touchscreen onboard. Instead, there's a two-inch external display -- shown above -- where users can check information such as when a new text message has arrived.

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BlackBerry Bold 9900

The Bold resurfaced again in 2011 and this time, it featured short-range wireless NFC technology -- typically used for contactless ticketing and payments.

The Bold 9900 also came with a capacitive touchscreen and ran the latest version of RIM's operating system, BlackBerry OS 7, which includes an HTML5-friendly browser. There's also a five-megapixel camera onboard.

19 of 34 Natasha Lomas/ZDNet

BlackBerry PlayBook

Announced in 2010 but reaching these shores in 2011 was perhaps RIM's most radical departure yet: the PlayBook.

The tablet, an attempt to capitalise on the wave of slate love initiated by Apple, has a seven-inch display, is 1cm thick and has both front and rear cameras.

The PlayBook was a lonely soul -- for 3G connectivity, it had to be tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone using a feature called BlackBerry Bridge, which connected the smartphone and tablet over a secure Bluetooth link.

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Torch 9810

As well as updating its Curve and Bold franchises in 2011, BlackBerry gave its Torch range a polish with three new models in the middle of the year.

Torch 9810 (above) stuck to the original Torch brief of touchscreen plus slideout keyboard, while the 9850 and 9860 were touch-only, with a 3.7-inch display to the 9810's 3.2-incher.

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Curve 9380

Later that year, the company brought out an-all touch Curve, bringing Qwerty-less phones to the lower end of the market for the first time.

The 3.2-inch 9380 came with a 3.2-inch screen, five-megapixel camera and NFC capabilities onboard.

22 of 34 Blackberry

Curve 9220

After talking up the social functionality of its cheaper handsets, BlackBerry began to take a more prominent place on the hardware in early 2012.

With the Curve 9220, BlackBerry introduced its first BBM hard button, under the familiar Qwerty keyboard, as well as including BBM branding on the outside of the device. The device also sported an FM radio and a two-megapixel camera.

23 of 34 BlackBerry


Early in 2013, BlackBerry brought out its first devices bearing its revamped OS, BlackBerry 10.

The operating system's flagship, the Z10, marked a departure in design terms -- the touchscreen device moved away from the rounded and bubbly feel of the older BlackBerrys in favour of a sharper, sleeker rectangle.

The touch-centric OS brought in new UI concepts, including Hub, Peek and Flow.

The most recently used app is shown to the top left of the screen with up to eight of the most recently run apps alongside.

On the hardware side, the Z10's core specs included a 4.2-inch display with a 1280 x 768 pixel resolution, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 2GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage, expandable up to 32GB with a microSD card.

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While BlackBerry 10 marked a departure for the company, it couldn't say goodbye to its heritage entirely, and launched a Qwerty device alongside the Z10, called the Q10.

As well as having a smaller touchscreen -- 3.1 inches compared to the Z10's 4.2 -- its display had a noticeably lower resolution.

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A lower-end Qwerty followed: the Q5 had a slightly squarer feel and more colour options than its predecessor.

While it had the same screen size as the Q10, the Q5 has an LCD screen rather than AMOLED, less storage, and a more plasticy feel.

Further reading

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BlackBerry Passport

The BlackBerry Passport is a hand-stretchingly wide rectangle with a three-decker physical keyboard and a square screen.

This bulky device is aimed at the business market and will not be mistaken for any other phone on the market.

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BlackBerry Z30

The Z30 is the fourth BlackBerry 10 device , following the Z10 , Q10 and Q5. Considering that the last handset the company released was the anonymous, plastic-clad Q5, the Z30 is an immediate return to quality.

It's a sturdy 5-inch phablet with good battery life and some elegant tweaks, but is it a little bit too sensible for its own good?

28 of 34 BlackBerry

BlackBerry Classic

The BlackBerry Classic, released in December 2014, saw the return of what BlackBerry is calling the 'classic navigation keys' which have been absent from the recent crop of BlackBerry 10 handsets: a phonecall key, menu key, trackpad, back button and, yes - back at last - an end call key.

29 of 34 Image: BlackBerry

BlackBerry Leap

Unlike earlier models which feature a QWERTY keypad, the Leap is a touchscreen-only device. And whereas the Passport and the Classic were aimed at that niche audience of managers who still prefer pecking away on a hard keyboard, BlackBerry aimed the Leap at the mass market of "young power professionals who want to get things done".

30 of 34 Image: BlackBerry

BlackBerry Priv

Why buy the Priv? No other high-end Android smartphone has a hardware keyboard, and it features a
bottom-up approach towards security and data privacy, starting with the hardware itself.

Given the growing number of security scares and malware hitting the Android platform, security-minded individuals, not to mention enterprises, may not mind paying a perceived premium for the BlackBerry Priv.

And when it comes to hardware specs, it compares favorably to most similarly-priced Android flagships.

31 of 34 Image: BlackBerry


In 2016, BlackBerry released what it claimed was the 'world's most secure Android smartphone'.

Among the security features in its arsenal are the DTEK by BlackBerry app, Android OS hardening, and FIPS-compliant encryption.

It looked to attract smartphone buyers' attention for another reason: it's one of the last phones designed by BlackBerry to hit the market.

32 of 34 Image: BlackBerry


The BlackBerry DTEK60 was launched the same year, based on a TCL reference design and initially priced at $499.

The security-focused smartphone was the first BlackBerry to carry a fingerprint sensor.

33 of 34 Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet


2017's KEYone -- made under licence by TCL-- took the BlackBerry back to the future with a device that carried physical keys, as well as a touchscreen.

34 of 34 Image: BlackBerry


The Motion, another TCL device, was a return to BlackBerry's business heritage. It featured several enterprise-centric touches, including dust-and water-resistance, an increased battery life, and a 'privacy shade' to stop the phone being read by those other than its owner.

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