BlackBerry smartphones were the first smartphones carried by many people around the world. BlackBerrys preceded the iPhone and Android in important ways and helped set the stage for many of the features we rely on today. That’s why it hurts just a little that the smartphone brand is, for all intents and purposes, dead (again).
TCL licensed the BlackBerry brand after the Canadian company stopped making its own phones. In other words, TCL kept BlackBerry alive. Today, TCL said it allowed its license to lapse and will no longer design and build BlackBerry phones. Optiemus in India also licenses the brand, but has so far failed to produce all the devices it announced.
For its part, BlackBerry has remained quiet. So, where does it go now?
The first smartphone-related story I ever wrote, for Field Force Automation magazine in the fall of 2001, was about BlackBerry. Set in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, several companies located in the downtown NYC area lauded BlackBerry for its DataTAC platform, which remained up and functional while regular cell service in the area failed. Back then, BlackBerry phones were gloried pagers. This was a vital success story for the company.
BlackBerry eventually upgraded to fully-connected internet devices, with browsers, email, and more. Believe it or not, support for phone calls, which would make them genuine smartphones, was added later.
Early models, such as the 7100, 7290, and 8700, were staples with the jet-setting business crowd.
The company made its own hardware, and, more importantly, provided the background services that gave the phones their value. BlackBerry Mobile Services provided business users with access to not only their contacts, calendar, and email, but connected enterprise apps and much more.
Early models, such as the 7100, 7290, and 8700, were staples with the jet-setting business crowd. They were huge, clunky devices with monochrome screens, thumbwheels, and terrible keyboards. (But they had keyboards!)
Once consumer-friendly handsets such as the Pearl, Curve, and Bold reached stores, BlackBerry became a hit with regular people. BlackBerry smartphones were the best way to stay connected without a laptop. BBM, the company’s stout messaging service, cemented its reputation as a communications master.
After little more than a dozen years in business, December 2012 saw BlackBerry reach its highest number of users, which was about 80 million. It had grown rapidly, mostly thanks to its email dominance, but fell even faster due to the market turbulence created by the iPhone and, later, Android.
In June 2007, when the first iPhone went on sale, BlackBerry had some 8 million customers. The fact that it would grow tenfold over the next five years is a testament to its strength as a platform, despite the competition. Of course, this is when companies issued BlackBerry smartphones — and not iPhones — to employees. Once Apple adopted the right set of licenses for corporate-grade email and security, that all changed.
BlackBerry’s slow decline began after Palm and WebOS called it quits, though Windows Phone will still a competitor. From March 2013 through May 2017 the number of BlackBerry users retracted from 80 million to 11 million.
The company gave up on making smartphones and instead allowed TCL and Optiemus to build them. BlackBerry continued with its software, which included a suite of communication services for the Android platform, which is what modern ‘Berries run.
Functional, not fun, phones from TCL
TCL kept the BlackBerry brand kicking, but not necessarily thriving. The hardware coming from the company looked and felt perfunctory. There were the warmed-over, slate-style DTEK50 and DTEK60, as well as the keyboard-equipped KEYone, Key2, and Key2 LE.
The phones got the job done, and yet didn’t reignite any fires. Sales for these devices were never fully revealed and yet can’t be anything but sluggish.
Perhaps this is for the best. Perhaps BlackBerry needs to be done. Even so, it was a key player in helping create the products we now rely on for literally everything. It’s sad to see companies and brands fail.
What say you? Sad to see BlackBerry go? Hoping for another rebirth? Be sure to let us know.
The filing doesn’t include pictures — the device is too small for a label, according to the test agency. The frequency data shows this is Bluetooth hardware, though, and the model number is consistent when the Buds Plus launched as the SM-R175.
Not much is known about the Buds X, although they’re reportedly bean-shaped. A US trademark application even hinted that they might include on-device music playback like what you saw with the older Gear Icon X. You might not need a phone or watch nearby to listen to tunes during a workout.
It’s still not certain when these new earbuds will arrive or how much they’ll cost. With the next Galaxy Unpacked event slated for August 5, however, we wouldn’t rule out a debut in the next few weeks.
While most of what we “know” about the Galaxy Fold 2 is unconfirmed, Samsung has made at least one thing clear. The world’s largest phone brand is introducing its next foldable phone, the third after the original Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Flip. The company made that statement in April, in the same breath it said that another Galaxy Note (presumed to be the Galaxy Note 20) is also in the lineup.
For more like this
Subscribe to the Mobile newsletter, receive notifications and see related stories on CNET.
These revelations aren’t terribly surprising, but it’s noteworthy that Samsung could release a phone expected to cost more than $1,400 during a global recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Global device shipments are expected to dip by 14% in 2020 as a result, according to Gartner.
Perhaps Samsung is counting on the hype machine — and a possible second stimulus check for the US — to stoke interest in the speculated Galaxy Fold 2? We’ll find out soon enough. This story updates frequently with the most important rumors.
Now playing: Watch this:
Everything there is to know about the Galaxy Fold 2
Aug. 5 launch. Now what about Fold 2 sale dates?
We know Samsung Unpacked 2020 will take place Aug. 5 online, starting at 7 a.m. PT/10 a.m. ET. Samsung will livestream the event (which CNET will also cover in a live show.) Since the first Galaxy Fold was introduced in February 2019 during the same Unpacked event that brought us the Galaxy S10, it’s likely we’ll see the Fold 2 at this event.
The rumors agree on that much. But the sale date is still up in the air, with rumors ranging from Aug. 20 (the same speculated sale date as the Note 20) to September, as suggested by Korean outlet ET News and Twitter leaker Riccolo.
Notably, Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Unpacked event was the last time the mobile industry congregated in full before concern over the spread of coronavirus put a stop to dozens of events within and beyond the tech world…including Mobile World Congress the world’s largest mobile-focused show, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (now 2021, we hope).
5G for the US, and will sell on Verizon
Frequent Twitter leaker Max Weinbach tweeted an image of firmware said to belong to the Galaxy Fold 2, which cites a version for Verizon. That could indicate that the Galaxy Fold 2 could support 5G, specifically Verizon’s mmWave version of the ultrafast data standard. The original Fold was released with 4G carrier support in the US, but was sold as 5G in Korea and the UK.
Could Samsung drop the ugly screen notch?
A notch the size of my thumb on the original Galaxy Fold’s 7.3-inch internal screen was one of the phone’s most enduring drawbacks. According to one rumor from prolific leaker Ice Universe, that’ll go away for good.
Galaxy Fold 2 sale price: 2,000 euros?
Twitter leaker Riccolo cited a 2,000 euro price tag, which converts to roughly $2,260 or AU$3,227. While Samsung may adjust prices per market, it would be surprising to see a more advanced Galaxy Fold 2 come in at less than the original Galaxy Fold’s $1,980 asking price. For reference, the ultraportable Galaxy Z Flip costs $1,380.
Trade-in deals, bundles and freebies are more likely than a cheaper Galaxy Fold 2. Although Samsung has been known to cut prices a few months after a launch, at least on its own website, the brand usually prefers to bump up the value of its premium products with bundled deals instead, like a buy-one-get-one or a free set of earbuds.
Will the Galaxy Fold 2 be waterproof?
Water resistance is standard fare among premium smartphones, but the nature of the hinge and the price made it impossible for the first wave of foldables to take advantage of waterproofing technologies, Samsung told us at the time the original Galaxy Fold launched.
That could change with the Galaxy Fold 2. Earlier this month, a patent for a water-resistant foldable phone design that looks awfully similar to the Galaxy Fold appeared, Let’s Go Digital reported. The patent (PDF) for “Electronic device including waterproof structure” details exactly how and where the waterproofing material would go inside the phone housing.
Square ‘periscope’ camera, ticker notification on cover screen
The same Samsung patent application mentioned above also reveals two interesting design changes, Let’s Go Digital pointed out. First is the camera array, which shows three rear lenses, one of them square. That’s the same design Samsung’s Galaxy S20 Ultra (and other phones) use for a periscope camera designed to enhance optical and digital zoom.
The second detail is a long, narrow ticker seen in the image above all the way to the right on the device cover screen. It’s clear that Samsung is at least experimenting with the idea of removing the original Fold’s 4.6-inch cover display — where you could open and use any Android app — with a ticker-style window for basic information like the date, time and notifications.
Such a move would mean you need to use the phone in its open position and could potentially improve battery life from the original model. It’s also possible that — if there are multiple Galaxy Fold models for 2020 — one of the cheaper devices could see a smaller outer screen.
Is there a cheaper Galaxy Fold E or Fold Lite in the works?
What if there isn’t just one new Galaxy Fold headed our way, but two or even three? Weinbach tweeted a rumor that Samsung could be making a Galaxy Fold E or Galaxy Fold Lite in addition to the more premium Galaxy Fold 2.
Weinbach’s tweet even named a potential price: $1,100 for the cheaper model — or models — which could use a plastic screen compared to the Galaxy Fold 2’s ultrathin glass, or UTG. Weinbach’s uncertainty (“and keep in mind this is a rumor,” he wrote) leaves room for doubt, but it does suggest that Samsung’s experiment with cheaper models won’t stop with the $1,380 Galaxy Z Flip.
There was just one problem with that. The original Fold’s plastic screen was too soft and infamously damage-prone to sustain the pressure from a fingernail, much less a stylus. But with enough structural support and a flexible glass screen (ultrathin glass, or UTG) — which was first used with the Z Flip — the rumors of a Fold 2 with a stylus are possible.
There’s little doubt that the Galaxy Fold 2 would follow in the footsteps of the original with two screens — one on the outside to start short tasks, like launching a phone call or responding to a quick text, and the larger screen inside that does all the heavy lifting of video watching, multitasking and longer email composition.
The larger screen is said to follow the Galaxy S20 with a 120Hz screen refresh rate, while the smaller screen will top out at the default 60Hz screen (see below). The faster refresh rate makes scrolling, navigation and some games run extremely smooth, but it can also drink up battery life at a faster rate. It’s likely that the Fold 2’s 120Hz screen setting would be an option, with the typical 60Hz rate the default, as it is on the S20 phones.
Galaxy Fold 2 cameras
The original Galaxy Fold took its camera cues from last year’s Galaxy S10 Plus, so it stands to reason that the Fold 2 would do the same, drawing from the Galaxy S20 Plus’ camera array and design. That’s the content of a rumor from Weinbach.
And what about the inner screen? Good question. The original Fold included a big thumb-shaped cutout that included two camera lenses and other sensors, and detracted from the overall look as well as took up screen space.
I’d wager that Samsung will minimize the camera look on the inner screen, possibly shrinking the space down to a single sensor for selfies and video chats, and using a more minimalist hole punch design. That said, the patent above (which may not reflect the final design), shows a similar internal notch as the original Fold.
Weinbach, in his February tweet, suggested that the “main” camera could include a V-shaped notch or an underscreen sensor.
Battery size and battery life
Battery life is a sticking point for any phone, but on a foldable device like the original Galaxy Fold, with power-thirsty screens and a promise to be the everything-device in your life, it has to deliver.
If rumor prevails, the Galaxy Fold 2 could top the Fold’s 4,380-mAh battery with a 4,500- or 5,000-mAh battery, according to a source cited by XDA Developers. You can also expect Samsung to stick with reverse wireless charging, which Samsung calls PowerShare, and fast charging to align with the Galaxy S20 phones — likely at a rate of 25 watts.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra, for example, supports even faster 45-watt charging, but keep in mind that there’s often a trade off between how fast a phone can charge and how much heat it generates and holds onto as a result. If the Fold 2 comes to life without support for 45-watt fast charging, that’s likely why.
Screen size, storage and other specs
Display consultant Ross Young tweeted a long list of specs in late April, unsurprisingly related to the screen size, resolution and technology. That, combined with other rumors circulating about the Galaxy Fold 2’s storage capacity, 5G variants and colors (from XDA Developers, SamMobile, ET News and others), paints a picture that concept artists can use to sketch out renders of how the Galaxy Fold 2 could look.
Now playing: Watch this:
What you should know about the Google Pixel 5
Main display: 7.59 inches; 2,213×1,689-pixel resolution
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.