Dear Berry: How do I seamlessly switch devices regularly?

Need advice on how to solve your BlackBerry woes? Dear Berry is here to save the day.
By Dear Berry on 24 Jul 2014 01:21 pm EDT

Hello again readers! Dear Berry is here once again with a mailbag full of BlackBerry questions and woes. Today's question comes from Bryan who asks:

I recently purchased my third BB10 device; my Q10 should be here tomorrow, and I'm stoked. I can't wait to get that lovely keyboard back in my hands. Anyway, so a little background, I obviously got the Z10 when it was first released and love it. Then came the Z30 release in the US and I couldn't stand by and not get it. It's a beast and I love it even more. So, my 10 pretty much got tossed into the baby's room to use for music. Not that I don't dig it but the Z30 won my heart and hands. Now I had the chance to get the Q10 for free so I couldn't say no. Here's where my questions come in. I want to use the Z30 and Q10 regularly, meaning switch seamlessly between them on any g‎iven day. I know many of you at mobile nations switch devices pretty regularly so I wanted to know what the best way to switch between the devices quickly and not be missing any information on either would be. Hopefully, someone who switches between BB's regularly would have ‎some great insight for me.

I wanted to just outline some of the items to be aware of when switching. The most important one would be that you would have to keep switching your BlackBerry ID back and forth. I know that I usually keep my main ID on one device and have created a new BBID on the other device. The BBID does control your BBM contacts and groups list so if you would prefer having access to these individuals on both devices then you would have to switch and use the same ID. However, there is an issue with switching BBID's and PINs too many times which is detailed below.

To make things easier here are some of the salient points to be aware of when switching between multiple devices.

  • Contacts: If you want to make switching easier, you can load your contacts onto your online account. I see that you have and I understand from experience there are sometimes sync issues (if this is a personal account) between the website and the device. However, if you do not have these problems you can upload your contacts there. Once that is complete simply add your account to both devices to continue receiving not only email but accessing these individuals as well. If not you can use BlackBerry Link or a third party application such as ContactsImEx, Backup Pro, or Device Switch to transfer them up and back.

  • Apps (BlackBerry World/BBID): Now this is the question that that BBID dependent. If you would prefer having access to your purchased apps and games then you would need to switch BBID's. However, please note that some people reported that there might be a PIN limit. If you switch devices too many times an error that you have exceeded the number of PIN changes may appear. In this instance created a new ID may be best. Though Sachesi does allow you to backup the bar files on your device I do not know if they will switch to a Q and I cannot guarantee compatibility. Update: There are 15 slots available for device switching, including the PlayBook. If you receive this error you can contact BlackBerry to delete the old devices / reset your account / clean up the PINs.

  • WiFi: One of the simpler responses rather than switching SIM's and BBID's is to just use the device on WiFi. With the exception of making/receiving calls/texts you will have complete access to email, browser, apps, games, etc.I cannot speak for the other members of CB but for myself I do this with all my other BlackBerry devices. One is my main device and the others I maintain on WiFi. Even with a new BBID, you can add the same payment method though you will have to use another email address and will not have access to ones already purchased. This is also helpful if there is an issue with exceeding the maximum number of PIN changes that some receive.

  • Calendar: As stated above for contacts, if your calendar is online via your account that can be synced with your device and not be lost. Just add the account in settings and it will sync. However, if it is stored locally you could use Backup Pro, Device Switch or BlackBerry Link to restore.

  • Media: This is a personal decision if you would like to carry over your music, pictures, and other files. There are various methods. You could store them on Dropbox or Box, or use another SD card to keep them on both devices.

These are only a few suggestions. Now readers I turn it over to you. Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments below!

See you next time!

Have a question about BlackBerry etiquette? Need advice on how to cope with your BlackBerry addiction? Dear Berry has you covered and there's no question too big or problem too small. Submit any of your BlackBerry woes by email to or on Twitter @DearBerryCB.

Reader comments

Dear Berry: How do I seamlessly switch devices regularly?


May I be the first to congratulate you on being first?
Now that SD Cards are of such high capacity, there should be a way to completely backup everything to the SD Card. The same kind of complete backup that BlackBerry Link does.

Frosty white Q10/

I've had three micro sd cards crash on me, so I don't count on them as my ultimate backup plan. Still need to backup regularly to an external drive or Dropbox or both. Then that external backup can be synched to second device.

Like S.H.I.E.L.D?? Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate...

What does P.A.S.S.P.O.R.T. Stands for?

Posted via CB10

Gimme a P., gimme an A.,...

For lack of HTML markup when posting from CB app,
I used caps and dots it to spell it out for SkyPilotofHope and highlight it the same way...

 BlackBerry? I premdict the future's gonna be chenomenal! 

That's great. Very informative. Thanks.
Dear BeRry, John Chen is going to have partnership with a company to streenghten its enterprise side of business. Perhaps Sybase, just my 2 cents

As far as the "Exceeded number of PIN changes" goes, there would only be two, back and forth... I don't think a warning would occur unless you're switching to NEW PINs a lot, where that might indicate some ongoing fraud where a device is sold then the PIN number on the account is changed, and a working device stops working properly.

Going between two devices already associated with a given BBID shouldn't be a problem. (I say SHOULDN'T because as far as anti-piracy goes, two devices SHOULD be considered just one person or perhaps POSSIBLY a couple, but then one would be without the services. BB may have designed the PIN change 'exception' code in a customer hostile overly "anti-piracy" way, but I hope not.)

I will occasionally get a server time out on BBM when switching pins. No matter what I do it won't let me change. Wiping the device always fixes it. But upon restore, it will do the exact same thing. So I end up having to start over from scratch. I at least have my contacts all backed up.

I've wiped my devices so much though that I remember every single setting and will usually stay up the whole night manually restoring everything to the way it was.

I can't figure out why it does this. It's frustrating.

Posted via CB10

I get errors switching BBM between different devices as well. Such a pain in the ass, should be able to use BBID and BBM on multiple devices. Prevents people from wanting multiple BlackBerry products.

I would rather go through the hassle to transfer the BBM account, rather than having my BBM messages arriving at one of the devices when it is not with me.

As far as server not responding, I don't remember encountering one myself, but it would be frustrating. Have you contacted BlackBerry to see if they can help you with that?

Posted via CB10

I would rather just use a product that works than go through the hassle of running into bugs and issues when trying to switch. Also should be able to use the same BBID on multiple devices to keep your apps together like every other device or platform ever made. They are shooting themselves in the foot with repeat buyers by doing this.

You likely haven't switched devices or not frequently if you haven't had errors. I've reported the problem in the past but no point wasting more of my time for something they already know about but are unwilling to fix.

I thought about getting that Passport but don't want to give up my smaller Z10 for convenience. In addition to Wifi you can also use the one phone as a mobile hot spot for the other. I have 6gb so that would work for me when not near Wifi.

Posted via CB10

Z10 won't last long as hotspot if not plugged in, even the Q10....

I use my Z10 as a hotspot on unlimited data daily, and usually need to keep it plugged in.

Zzzzwiped from a Zedevice....


I love my Z10 (though a switch to the Z30 is imminent), but that bad boy gets so hot when it's hotspotting, I could almost fry an egg on it. The excessive heat results in a rapid battery drain (and it's not like the Z10 was a battery monster to begin with.)

The Z10, to me, is not ideal for this.

I'm z10ing. Yes, I invented a verb.

Funny, I was actually going to post about this in the forums!

I have a Z10 and a Z30 (my main device). So would I have to swap the SIM card into whichever phone I wanted to use?

Posted via the Z30 on CB10

If you are not going to use cellular network on your Z10, then there is no need to insert a SIM card.

But if you want to use the Z10 to make calls and SMS/MMS with the same number as Z30, then you need to swap the SIM. Alternatively you may want to contact your carrier and see if they support multiple SIM per number. Some carriers support this feature at a fee, basically they would recognise both SIM card as the same number on their network.

Posted via CB10

I regularly switch between my Q10 and Z10. I have never had any PIN switch issues however, it's a PITA switching BBM because you lose all your in progress conversations and you have to restore groups.

Omg yes I hate that. With Skype all your conversations stay in sync across all devices. If only BBM could catch this wave too.

Posted via CB10

I think if you turn on "Save Chat History" you would get back all the in progress chats.

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry should have a cloud storage for your device for content such as Contacts, Memos, SMS and Emails, and Photos.

Posted via CB10

That would be great, though I'd rather have the option to just backup certain BlackBerry apps to my SD card.

All my media is already stored on there, but I'd like to back up Remember, Hub (not technically an app, I know), Contacts, Password Keeper & Calendar.

I still have no idea why BlackBerry Link hasn't yet been upgraded to allow specific application backup.

I'm z10ing. Yes, I invented a verb.

It seems painful. I thought about maybe getting a QWERTY device to play with, if it could be had for cheap, but not like this.

Only the Evernote folders, as they sync to the cloud. Emails flagged as important will also sync, since once you flag them on the device, it gets flagged on the server and then flagged on the other device.

That's abut it though, any tasks and local entries will remain where they are created.

I use Fire Chest Backup. That one backups my contacts and Remember. It's kind of slow but working well and there is really no alternative so far. Although be carefull sice it may duplicate your notes.

You should not be encountering a limit on PIN switches with BB10 as you are allowed up to 5 BB10 phones on your BBID and they can be active on the BBID at the same time as far as BBW is concerned. I own a Z10, Q10, and a Z30, and they are currently getting on just fine sharing the same BBID.

You will have to switch your BBM to whatever device you want it active on, however and doing so will remove the BBM contacts and chats from the previous one.

Also, if you have purchased stickers, you may need to go to the BBM Shop and restore your purchases before you can use them.

Posted via CB10

This is news to me, good news I might add. When I tried this in the early days of BB10 BlackBerry World would only work on one phone at a time requiring me to set up another bbid and buy my apps again.

Posted via CB10

How do you send a note to Dear Berry? I would like to change my snooze for appointments from 5 minutes to something else. I read somewhere that it has to be the same time for all items. This makes no sense. On my PC I can decide each one separately, please help show me the way!

I just got a Verizon Z30 and using the sim from my work IPhone 4S and my other BB is a Q10 and thought about seting up a new BBID which I have done but have not wiped my Q10 since I can just move my BBM contacts back and forth but It can be a PITA. I almost wiped the Q10 the other night but backed out

There is a "Device switch" utility in BB Link, but I'm always worried about reliability...

Zzzzwiped from a Zedevice....

I used the device switch to go from my Z10 to my Z30, and all it does is essentially wizard you through the backup and restore process. Nothing to be scared of, but really not necessary for power users.

Posted via CB10 via Z30STA100-5/

I tried this and was unsuccessful at it, was there any specific settings that needed to be had prior to trying the device switch?

Posted via CB10

Good Article, but this is something that BlackBerry needs to work on.

I should be able to access the same BBM ID from multiple devices.

Or carriers could catch on to this idea and allow two devices to function at the same time. (two SIMS, same number)

Posted via CB10

Need the new cloud powered BlackBerry protect service.

So that we have auto sync with cloud across different BlackBerry devices.

Highly secure of coursse.

Differentiate or Die

I switch devices, but I put my 4G LTE PlayBook tablet SIM in my secondary device, most often my Z10, and use the tablet on wifi only as it is the cheapest way to get mobile data sharing and I don't use text or phone on the secondary device, nor BBM when it is my Z10 (BlackBerry, please fix this so it is easy to switch BBM?).

I switch the SIM from my primary device, Z30 usually, to my Z10 when watching a lot of live video (using my Z30) or when really active for weekends out competing with my dogs where I want a smaller and cheaper device which might be at risk of theft or accident. Fortunately I run an Exchange server which allows me to sync everything including notes and tasks in the remember app in addition to calendar, contacts and email. I suggest hosted Exchange if you want to switch a lot. I don't switch BBM, but I may go offline and force people to use text or email, but I would prefer to be able to switch BBM easily too, but unfortunately it is more hassle than it is worth. The passport will likely become a secondary device, but more highly used than my Z10 or PlayBook. I use 64 GB MicroSD and Dropbox, but since I often carry both devices, not all content is synced.

Z30 Rocks!

Just to clarify, my secondary device is often carried in a pack sack, bag or laptop bag/briefcase. So although I always have it close by, I am not using it for regular communication or updates.

Z30 Rocks!

All crap, does not work smoothly at all - this BlackBerry device switching jazz. Besides even on protect account login it won't show any phone. Separate iD is the only way to keep switching, which of course won't do the BBM list switch. Hhmm.

Posted via CB10 from P'9982.

I only switch between bold and Q10 every so often, like when my Q10's battery is so low it forces the device to shut off in order not to lose data and all, when I don't have a charger with me (I never usually bring one). I rarely switch my BBID over either, plus you cannot switch a PIN: it is hardwired. I think you meant BBID more or less.

Posted via CrackBerry 10 (CB10) application using my BlackBerry Q10.

One question about the black blackberry z30, is the bottom supposed white or silver/grey? Because the one I bought few days ago is a grey, hoping it was white like I seen in some of the pictures.

Posted via CB10

I switch between my Q10 and Z10 often enough.

I have 2 sims, 2 memory cards.

I log into my online profile and simply do a sim swap.

I use the same BBID on both phones. This way my bbm contacts automatically load and people don't have to have 2 pins and guess which phone I'm using.

Whenever I add or remove a contact the other device will update itself once connected to wifi.

Calendar works the same way as my contacts when connected to wifi.

So far BlackBerry World lets me download the same apps. No trouble yet with too many pin changes.

When I have time, I'll update my pictures and music folder depending on which phone I'm using.

My only gripe, is my contacts syncing between Outlook, Gmail, work exchange account, bbm, skype need linking. Most are done well but some do need some attention.

Posted via CB10

Wouldn't it be nice if you could just create an image your apps/accounts/profiles/flash regardless of android or berry origin ...

that way all u gotta do is "create image" on one end save it to ur SD card, swap and "import image" on the other end... a few minutes later - BAM seemless(ish) migration achieved !!!

:) :) :)

Posted via CB10

I've heard the SIM card slot can be damaged easily too so not sure how practical this is.

Posted via CB10

Interesting read.
I've recently goone back to using a 9790 from a Q10. It's not a permanent move, but I'm enjoying it, for the most part. There were three reasons for the move:
1) Barclays Bank don't (yet) have a bb10 internet banking app, and I needed to access it recently.
2) I've had some battles with the Q10 recently whilst trying to edit text documents - leading to several emails getting sent when all I was trying to do was edit the document.
3) I wanted a smaller, more prtable device I could take to the beach on holidays.

Posted via CB10

I had a 9790 prior to switching to Z10. I loved it, it was small, had a good camera with auto-focus, touch screen, great reception and did everything I need a smartphone to do. Only complaint was the tiny battery. I am now on a Q10 and I love it even though it is a bit big. Just making a comment wondering if Barclays bank has a good mobile site? All the banking apps I have tried have just been wrappers to their mobile site, identical in nearly every way to the web app.

Hi Mike, I find the 9790 has a slightly better battery than my Q10. I 'spose it depends on what apps I'm running.
I much prefer the 9790's size to anything currently on the market. You can put it on the table in a restaraunt and it'll be discreet - you certainly can't do that with a z30! I certainly didn't have any problems reading on it, apart from the conky bbOS browser being a bit slow.

Barclays has a good online banking desktop interface - does everything I need, but the bb10 app is much needed and long overdue...

Posted via CB10

You can have as many devices associated to your BBID as you like, but only one can be used for BBM at a time, obviously. But... switching between devices to use BBM is super simple and seamless. Just launch it and follow the prompts.

Posted via CB10

Periodically I will switch between my Q10, Z10 or Z30.

I use SMS Backup to transfer my Text messages to the other BlackBerry. I save the backup file and folder to my SDCard.

I use an app called Acar to track Auto expenses. It is an Android app and when I do a backup, it stores that backup file in the device memory. It also supports backup to Dropbox and Onedrive, which I do separate from the local backup. I do it immediately after the local backup.

As for BBM chats, I will either email them to myself or copy and paste into a Word document and save it on the SDcard.

When I'm ready, I shut down, take the SIM and Media card out and put both of them in the BlackBerry I'm switching to.
Then I activate BBM, which restores my groups and contact list.
I use SMS Backup to restore my Text messages, import the Acar data from the backup and am usually good to go.

I also use Our Groceries for Shopping lists and it syncs to their server, so I can open it on any device and have updated info.

I also use Evernote, which syncs to the cloud. My email, contacts, calendars, notes and task list syncs to my MDaemon server via ActiveSync. I don't use the built-in Evernote feature because I found that it had some limits in note size and wouldn't sync some new information I had typed.

I usually have to redo my Auto Text (Word Substitution) on each BlackBerry.

I also use KeePass and store the data file on the SDcard and back up to Onedrive, Box and Dropbox.

Posted using CB10 on my Verizon Z10

Great tips! I was just having these thoughts today as I plan on getting the Passport while still wanting to utilize my Z10 for music and other miscellaneous activities. Gratitude CB fam!

Posted via CB10

The PIN switching limit is 10 devices. I've had to get it reset twice so far, involves shooting an email to someone at BlackBerry and they do something in the backend. I go through BB10 devices like socks.

I've done about 10 device switch's now, always a headache, always a full evening job seems to be about 6+ hrs (if everything goes smoothly), there needs to be a way to get this down to 1 hour or so.. and usually after device switch i end up with these notifications (everyday at the same time) telling me i need to update password for my computer or Link. The only thing i miss about BBOS, was how quick it was to do a device switch, and i got to pick and choose what to backup and restore.

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry Protect used to be a one stop shop for switching devices. It worked flawlessly, but lost all it capability with BlackBerry 10.

Posted via CB10

Hey, you can change your PIN 16 times a year, DIFFERENT PINS are meant. It is no problem to switch back and forward 2 different PINS as often as you want.

If your BBID is locked after "too many divice ID"s associated with your ..." error, you can open a case and let reset your account / clean up PIN numbers.

I ran into this "lock" a couple of times (lots of testing devices), I always open a new case with blackberry and 12 hours later my BBID is back and usable.

Posted via CB10

Why not writing a 'Dear Berry' on how to get a Q10 for free... it actually seems to work out well for some people ;-)!!

Ferrari ZetaTrenta STA100-2 Versione

Someone please tell me why you need to switch devices on a daily basis. I never understood that. Especially of your buying them out of contract, my god doesn't that get expensive to keep buying them JUST to have them.

Posted via CB10

Note that at least on T-mobile, blackberry comes with "wifi calling" which permits calls and sms to be made/received seamlessly over wifi (that is, no difference from cellular connection; even if you a e in Brazil or china or wherever). So, even these actions work over wifi if you have wifi calling enabled on your phone.

Posted via CB10

For media, I am not sure why you are suggesting two media cards and keeping them both the same. By default, if you have an SD card, all your pictures, videos, documents, downloads etc will be stored on the SD card. When switching devices, just pop the SD card out of one phone and put it in the other and that is it. Some apps default to the device memory for data storage, if that is the case, BB10 has a File Manager which you can use to move your data from your device memory to the SD card.

If you switch devices, get into the habit of keeping all data on the SD card and just move the card from one device to the other.

For keeping your sms and bbm chats: using Link to backup and restore that data may be the best bet. On BBOS, we had the amazing BB Protect service to do that for us. Oddly this feature is stripped out for BB10 so Link is a good alternative. Also read the advice from commenter jhanks64, very sound advice.

For BBM, if you open BBM and go to settings, there is a switch for "Save Chat History" I have never used it, but if it does what it is supposed to, you will not lose your BBM chat history.

So in a nutshell:
- One BBID signed in on both devices, keep your apps installed and updated on both devices.
- Use a cloud PIM service like Office 365,, Gmail, etc. for your email, contacts and calendar.
- Use your SD Card for all media and move it from one device to the other.
- Turn on "Save Chat History" in BBM. Follow the prompts to change BBM to whatever device you are using.
- Backup your SMS using Link if it is important to you.
- Lobby BlackBerry to finish BB Protect so that it fully supports BB10!

I've been switching between my Z10 and Q10 on a bi-monthly basis, since I was given my new Q10 September of last year. I have my BBID associated with both handsets.

I also use BBLINK to keep the address books, calendars and media synchronized between my two devices. My apps are the same on both units too. I switch my microSD card to whichever phone I'm using. The only thing that's not synchronized are my text messages.

But I haven't had any problems switching between my two BB10 devices on a regular basis.

Posted via CB10

[Upload your data to]

Wow. Where did the famous BB security disappear?

How can I get my file manager and my media player on my BlackBerryz10 pls cam anyone help me out

Posted via CB10

The Telus Rep informed me that the BlackBerry Passport takes a larger Sim card then the BlackBerry Z30. If this is true, how can you switch back and forth with the two devices.

 Z30 Rocks 