If you're still clinging to your older BlackBerry not for nostalgia's sake but for actual functionality, you're out of luck after today. In what multiple outlets are calling the "end of an era," the Canadian company known for its once-ubiquitous mobile devices with thumb-friendly QWERTY keyboards has deemed Tuesday the "end of life" for its classic smartphones—ie, any that don't run on Android software. "The legacy services for BlackBerry 7.1 OS and earlier, BlackBerry 10 software, BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1 and earlier versions, will no longer be available after January 4, 2022," a release notes.
That means that after the sun goes down Tuesday, "devices running these legacy services and software through either carrier or Wi-Fi connections will no longer reliably function, including for data, phone calls, SMS, and 9-1-1 functionality," the release adds. The company had originally announced this shift in September but had postponed the devices' demise until January "as an expression of thanks to our loyal partners and customers."
For a while in the early 2000s, BlackBerrys ruled the mobile phone roost, especially within the business world. As the New York Times puts it, the devices "dominated offices, airport lounges, and the West Wing." Then, the touchscreen allure of iPhones and Androids came along and displaced their clunkier cousins, per the Guardian. Loyalists kept the BlackBerry brand chugging along for a while, but ultimately the company's technology struggled to keep up, and in 2016 it transitioned into the software arena, announcing it wouldn't manufacture its own phones anymore.
Fans are now officially in the mourning stage, lamenting a time when devices were simpler and less distracting. In his love letter of sorts for the BBC, journalist Bill Wilson writes that BlackBerry "held the tiny keys to my heart." Meanwhile, of today's sleeker smartphones: "You're constantly bombarded by sensory overload," Kevin Michaluk—aka "CrackBerry Kevin," founder of the CrackBerry site devoted to the brand's gadgets—sniffs to the Times. Of his now-discontinued BlackBerry 8700, he has fonder words. "It was a little tank," he says. "You could throw the thing across the room like a baseball, and it would keep working." (Read more BlackBerry stories.)