It looks like BlackBerry phones are dead

BlackBerry Key2
(Image credit: Future)

There was a time that BlackBerry was synonymous with smartphones. And now this once-legendary brand could be dead for good.

TCL Communication, which has been manufacturing and selling phones under the BlackBerry brand since 2016, issued a statement via Twitter on the @BBMobile account, saying that the company will now longer be making BlackBerry-branded mobile devices as of August 31, 2020.

The company says that it has “no further rights to design, manufacture or sell any new BlackBerry devices” but it will continue to provide support for existing devices until August 31, 2022. 

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Essentially, it looks like the brand licensing agreement between TCL and BlackBerry has expired, and for whatever reason, will not be renewed.

TCL did make some solid BlackBerry phones along the way that combined BlackBerry's security know-how and the brand's famed physical keyboards with the Android OS. Back in March 2018, we gave the Blackberry KeyOne a 4-star rating in our review, praising its many keyboard shortcuts and outstanding battery life.

However, we were less enthused with the BlackBerry Key2, which offered a sleeker design but disappointing dual cameras. It also wasn’t compatible with all carriers.

Meanwhile, TCL continues to make phones under the Alcatel and Palm brands and just last year began offering handsets with its own name emblazoned on the back.

At CES 2020, the company showed us a TCL foldable phone concept with a 7.2-inch OLED display, though it is just one of many designs under development. And later this year, we look forward to testing the TCL 10 series — the company's first handsets to be sold in North America under the TCL moniker. That lineup will even include a 5G model for less than $500.

BlackBerry as a larger brand will continue to live on as a software and services company focusing mostly on the enterprise market. However, BlackBerry phones could be finished, once and for all.

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.