BlackBerry Evolution - A look back at the long road of devices leading up to BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry Evolution
By Adam Zeis on 17 Oct 2012 02:54 pm EDT

BlackBerry Smartphones have come a long way since the original models were introduced way back in 1996. And I mean a loooooong way. The first devices were not really even smartphones at all. BlackBerry got its start improving upon pagers, with the introduction of the 850 Interactive Pager.

That's a far cry from today's 9000 series smartphones that feature color screens, wifi, microSD slots, GPS, Bluetooth and so much more. BlackBerry has moved from a trackwheel to trackball to trackpad to full touchscreen -and BlackBerry 10 promises to take the experience to a whole new level. So as we look forward to BlackBerry 10, let's take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and check out the evolution of the BlackBerry Smartphone - in pictures. 

The Evolution of BlackBerry Devices

While this is a pretty good size sample of BlackBerry devices, keep in mind that it's not every model and color that was made available (there are quite a few).   

850 and 950 Series

The original BlackBerry - the Inter@ctive Pager -  was announced on September 18, 1996. The device provided only basic email and WAP services. The series included the model 850, 857, 900, 950, 957 and 962 devices. 


Interactive Pager

Inter@ctive Pager 


BlackBerry 850



BlackBerry 857



5000 and 6000 Series

The 5000 and 6000 series devices were the first to incorporate a mobile phone with a pager. The 5810 was released on March 4, 2002. The 5000 series included the 5810 and 5820 (which had phone capabilities using a headset) as well as the email only 5790. The 6000 series included the 6210, 6220, 6230, 6280, 6510, 6710, 6720 amd 6750.

BlackBerry 5810

BlackBerry 5810



BlackBerry 6200

BlackBerry 6200


BlackBerry 6510

BlackBerry 6510


BlackBerry 6710


BlackBerry 6710


7000 Series

The 7000 series built upon the same features as the 5000/6000 series, but introduced a color screen as well. Various models included phone and/or two-way radio and the 7290 and 7520 also had Bluetooth. Models included the 7210, 7220, 7230, 7250, 7270, 7280, 7290, 7510, 7520, 7730, 7750 and 7780. This was also Kevin's first BlackBerry and ignited the fire that became CrackBerry!!

BlackBerry 7210


BlackBerry 7210




BlackBerry 7100


BlackBerry 7100



8000 Series

The 8000 series was the start of the "consumer" devices. These models included an updated color screen, more memory, a microSD slot, camera and more. The Pearl 8100 was also the first to introduce the new trackball naviagtion, breaking away from the trackwheel that had graced other devices. The name Pearl came from the look of the trackball on the device.

The 8000 series includes the well known Pearl and best-selling Curve lines of devices. 

The Curve 8520/8530 was the first device to introduce the optical trackpad, a replacement to the longstanding trackball navigation.

The Pearl Flip 8220 was the first BlackBerry flip phone made available. 

BlackBerry 8700


BlackBerry 8700



BlackBerry 8100

BlackBerry Pearl 8100


BlackBerry 8800

BlackBerry 8800


BlackBerry 8320

BlackBerry Curve 8320  


BlackBerry 8350i

BlackBerry Curve 8350i


BlackBerry 8900

BlackBerry Curve 8900


Pearl Flip 8220

BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 

BlackBerry 8530

BlackBerry Curve 8530


9000 Series

The 9000 series is the most recent, beginning with the Bold 9000 launched in 2008. Dubbed the Cadillac of devices, the Bold 9000 is still a long fan favorite. The 9000's again featured updated hardware including better cameras, more memory, Bluetooth and wifi. This series included the first all-touch device, the BlackBerry Storm 9530 and the flagship Bold line.

The Torch 9800 was the first device running BlackBerry 6 and offered a slider form factor with both a touchscreen and slide out keyboard.  

The Curve 9380 and Torch 9860 were full-touch devices perfect for users who prefered not to have a physical keyboard. 

Notable 9000 series devices include the Storm, Storm2, Bold 9000, Bold 9700, Tour 9630, Bold 9650Style 9670, Torch 9800 and Bold 9900/9930.

BlackBerry 9000

BlackBerry Bold 9000


BlackBerry 9630

BlackBerry Tour 9630


BlackBerry 9530

BlackBerry Storm 9530 


BlackBerry 9700

BlackBerry Bold 9700


BlackBerry 9650

BlackBerry Bold 9650


BlackBerry 9670

BlackBerry Style 9670


BlackBerry 9380

BlackBerry Curve 9380


BlackBerry 9860

BlackBerry Torch 9860


BlackBerry 9360

BlackBerry Curve 9360


BlackBerry 9810

BlackBerry Torch 9810


Bold 9790

BlackBerry Bold 9790  


BlackBerry 9900

BlackBerry Bold 9900 


BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry 10 will be released in Q1 of 2013. The "mobile computing platform" will be a fresh start for BlackBerry and bring two new devices, the L-Series (touchscreen) and N-Series (QWERTY).   

BlackBerry 10 

BlackBerry 10  

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

BlackBerry Evolution - A look back at the long road of devices leading up to BlackBerry 10


Ahhh.... The memories of my old 857. Thanks for the great trip down memory lane, and into the future!

The Blackberry 7210 is the first Blackberry devices I remember seeing. The 8800 was the first that made me turn my head and break my neck to see what it was all about! My first BB was the 8330 and then shortly after I got the Bold 9000, king of all BBs!

Looking forward to the BB10 QWERTY device, should be a great successor to the 9900! (Although I still want me trackpad!!! LOL!)

When I first saw a friend use the Pearl 8100, I was amazed at the beauty of the phone, hence prompting me to get a BB.

The Bold 9000 was a tremendous phone!
Waiting patiently, expectantly, longingly for the evolution of the techno - fruit in BlackBerry 10

ah the 8320 my first BB :'( good times. i remeber feeling like a boss when i pulled that phone out and everyone was like, whoa whats that.

Interesting to see that the keyboard curved in the opposite direction on the 5000 and 6000 series devices...

Thanks for posting!

Though doesn't this cause people like Engadget's Tim Stevens some angst? These are the guys who swear that iPhones look different, but all BlackBerrys look the same and that RIM has been releasing the same phone with no advancements for the last 10 years. ;-)

My first contact with BlackBerry was the Pearl 81XX, i was in shock with the device, but not enought to change my N95. My first own BB was the great, durable and increible Curve 8900, still have that phone fully working. Now i have the Bold 9780, great device.

Waiting to march when BB10 come to Mexico to buy it :D

Live Long and Prosper!

+1.. just picked up this device and am in love. upgraded from a pearl 3G which should also get an honourable mention.

Although I have loved every one of my Blackberrys, the Bold 9000 was what showed me the true potential of the Brand. IMHO, that was a great device, and a nice precursor to my 9900. The 9900 should go down in the books as one of the best devices on ANY platform, and I could use without complaint until BB10 appears.

Adam, I'd like to see this edited, or another article perhaps explaining the evolution of the OS itself. I can't really find anything explaining what the differences before OS 4.2 were.


I always wondered this. Lack of screen realistate is the reason I would only consider the L series or a (hopefully coming) slider. The screen on the galaxy s2 is amazing. I'm spoiled for large screens after playing with my friends phones :/

The odds are that making the device taller when the weight is not evenly balanced (keyboard lighter than screen) would make it less stable to hold in your hand and thus it makes sense for ergonomic reasons for it to be shorter than the other model.

Because it would look ridiculous! Just look at the kindle avec keyboard - would you like a phone that had the same dimensions?! It would look like the phone with the world's biggest forehead!

I started on the ground floor setting up the 850 and 950 for Doctors. My first device was a 6000 series device on Cingular. I've had at least one device from each subsequent generation. Looking forward to 10.

Nice recap, but it seems a bit unfair to give the 5810 top billing for the 5000 series when the 5820 actually came out first on bt cellnet in 2001.

An interesting thing to note, the first version of the software for the 5820 shipped without a phone app, presumably due to the network wanting to sell it for fullprice as a connected pda rather than as a phone where their customers would expect a subsidised price.

OMG what memories!
I have been with RIM since 850!
Then: 7210, 7100, 8230, 8900, 9000 and now with a 9800.
I live in South America, btw.
Waiting the BB10

Nice article, I guess I'm still young in the BlackBerry World being my first device was a Curve 8330. Still intrigued with BlackBerry devices and will continue to use......there perfect for the way I use a SMARTPHONE

I haven't spent much time on CB of late so can anyone confirm that that is actually the final Bold BB10? Has RIM confirmed it?

Great article btw Adam. A few Bb's there I've never seen before.

I just noticed something. The trackwheel BlackBerrys had the keyboards faced in a "frowning" or "sad face" position. Then as they evolved to trackball/pad, the keyboards were "smiling". So I guess it's only right the keyboard for the n-series has the "straight face" for the evolution of bb10.

Back then the phones were designed for true one-handed operation, with thumb roughly in the middle at the base (making a windshield wiper-like motion across the keys).

Today's devices are more for the double thumb action.

I guess tomorrow's keyboard is more for the "hunt and peck" typing?

I have been using Blackberrys for almost ten years, starting with the 6510, then the 7210.

After that I had an 8350i, then the 9650 and now the 9930. These phones are so well built that I have never broken one due to the repeated drops and falls that have destroyed lesser phones.
I will stay with Blackberry because they have consistently gotten the job done for my business for a decade without (barely) a hiccup.

I look forward to the potential of BB10 and will be first in line when they are released.

Oh i remember my old 7250, i loved that phone! it was the begining of the Crack for me, the simpler days where Push E-Mail was the most fantastic thing ever and Brickbreaker was the only mobile game i needed, i've loved all of my BlackBerries, but there are two that have a special place in my heart the 7250 and the Curve 8310.

Why is 9790 is dropped out in so many articles. It's nice and is a bold mobile device :) Nice article. It is good to know how it all began and how BlackBerry became one of the best platforms and mobile devices (personal opinion) :P

Nice article! And Thank You!

You made me realized that I was indeed a BlackBerry addict once upon a time. I've owned BlackBerry since the 7000 series, 8000 series and 9000 series. It is a WOW for me to realize that I owned almost all of them at one time.

Good times... good times....

Where is the love for 9800? I want to get 9800 added to the list. That's one of the best ones prior to 9900 coming out.

Wow, what a nice trip down the memory lane...sadly I remember supporting most of these while working in retail back then...

Just out of curiousity, is the N series blackberry legit and will be released at the same time as the full touchscreen blackberry 10?

Thanks, that felt like a trip back through the neighborhood I grew up in.

My first bb was an 8830 world edition, I had to get that phone to get a word in edgewise with this girl I was dating at the time who could type 50wpm on her 8310. Always had issues with the trackball on that old phone.

All that changed with my Curve 8530. Just last month I finally parted with my curve when my business partner had his phone stolen.

I loved my Storm2 9550 & would still be using it if it hadn't taken a dump on me a few months back.

Now I eagerly await the day bb10 is launched so I can find a better use the pow Droid I've been forced to use the last 4 months. My first thought is hockey Puck, or fetch/pool toy for my rottweiler?

I love my BB Torch 9800 as if it were my baby...cracked screen and all. I'll continue to use it with is 20 minute battery life till BB10 comes out....I wish there'd be another slider one though...

I highly suggest getting the screen replaced if the LCD is damaged, but if it's just the glass and the touch screen digitizer still works, awesome. Just get a new battery off ebay and ROCK THAT THING OUT!!!

Great nostalgic article! I wonder how many here were around long enough to experience the awesomeness of the 800/900 series? Getting my 957 in 2001 really was a game changer for me. Having owned many portable computing devices, this the first which was always on, always connected, and that became almost like an extension of my body. So much so that I used it all the way until 2008, at which point I upgraded to a 9530. Anyone else still using a 957 at that point? To me it will always be the perfect Blackberry. Big monochrome screen with green backlight, Mobitex, thumb wheel, excellent keyboard, and weeks of battery life.

my first bb was the pearl 8100 *tear* then I went to the bold 9000, then bold 9700 now i'm at the bold 9930 patiently waiting (along with my 64gb playbook) for BB10!!!

Been hooked on blackberry since the 8130, then the 9700 and then.. The 9900 when I switched to WIND. Been loving it ever since.

What if a BOLD 9960 full screen instead of TORCH 9860?
Would it have been a better seller....?

Bold qwerty is the best of all ...but for BB10 the question is to qwerty or not to qwerty..the predictive keyboard is quite tempting

I jumped late on the bandwagon with the 9700. Truthfully, mostly because of BBM since most of my friends had a BlackBerry back then, and the idea of a beautiful hardware keyboard. Got the 9900 now and I'm totally happy! Can't wait to get my hands on an N series device!

I am on my first BlackBerry (Curve 3G 9330) ::blush:: and this article was a very good read. The pictures were really fun to see BlackBerry's history. I thought about upgrading to a Bold when my contract expires in March but the BlackBerry N-Series phone with the keyboard really has my name on it!

On my first BB(9900),which was disappointing in battery life, performance and games, and I must say that the BB10 keyboard one looks great(for me, full touch BB's are pointless). However there is two weak points:
1- Are N-Series phones touch+keyboard?
2-Why did you remove the physical buttons?

The trackpad is simply great, and menu and return buttons work well. The device looks cool with a bigger screen than 9900 and all, but still, those buttons should be back!

And I hope proper, Android-quality games will hit App World.

I've seen these BlackBerry'sfrom use and I've beenaround too! But who has the time for fancy this plus fancy that as our wireless needs upgraded! Who can afford this young or new technology depending what age group you belong to but for me it tonight! Again was the new BlackBerry classic with its udeniably classic look feel and as well can be customized according to the end user!