Meet the People Keeping BlackBerry Alive in 2021
‘What can I say—I just love the keyboard’
Maxime Morin, a 35-year-old marketer in Quebec, first started tinkering with his phone out of curiosity. What was this device, a BlackBerry Torch with a sliding screen and full physical keyboard, capable of? How did its mechanical parts fit together and work? There was a lot to explore within this handheld gadget.
And then, of course, it broke.
There weren’t many good online tutorials about how to fix the thing, which first came out more than a decade ago. Morin bought a working Torch for comparison and toyed around with both devices until he figured out what was wrong with his broken one.
So began an obsession. Morin started to collect BlackBerries: the Torch, Bold, Tour, Curve, Q5, Passport, and Q10, an entire family of clicky keyboard smartphones. He would remove components from his devices to figure out what they were for, gradually learning how to switch out different parts to customize and upgrade them.
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The world moved on to slender glass phones with flat panels and as few mechanical parts as possible, but he never did. BlackBerry devices felt endlessly fixable to Morin, who has come to support the Right to Repair movement, which dictates that consumers should have total control over their technology. Companies like Apple have locked down their products with proprietary parts and software that grant access only to authorized vendors. These old BlackBerry phones seemed to deliver on a different promise.
“They led me to this policy: Buy if you can repair only,” Morin says.
Of course, nothing is quite so simple in the world of apps, social networks, and operating systems. The old BlackBerry operating system, BB10, is several years old. The brand has been licensed out to manufacturers that attach it to Android devices. There’s no such thing as an official, modern BlackBerry in the classic mold.
“I think it helps to take a…