Porsche Design P'9981 BlackBerry Official Unboxing and First Impressions Video!

By Kevin Michaluk on 27 Feb 2012 05:32 pm EST

Following up the teaser photo I posted of my new Porsche Design P'9981 Smartphone from BlackBerry, I responded to the requests of CrackBerry Nation and followed it up today with an official unboxing of this expensive and exclusive BlackBerry. And since this is a BlackBerry that's going to set back would be purchasers ~ $2k, I extended the unboxing video to also include a walk through of the device and some of my initial review impressions.

I'll follow up soon with my full review, but honestly, this isn't a phone that really requires a review. Seriously. With a price tag this high, buying the P'9981 isn't about features or specs or how it stacks up in value against other devices on the market. This phone is about emotion. It's about desire. And of course, it's about showing the world you can afford to spend $2,000 on a phone.

People who want this phone and can afford it won't really care what others think about it. This isn't a phone for hipsters. We've seen lots of people say they think it's hot. Others have said it's not. I was on the fence initially, but the more I use it the more I like it. I did take my P'9981 out on the town Friday and Saturday night and both nights I had strangers come up to me and ask if that was the new Porsche BlackBerry.  When I said yes I received looks of awe - obviously they recognized and respected what the phone represented in terms of cash (and possibly they thought I was nuts to have one).

From a hardware perspective, the phone is essentially a BlackBerry Bold 9900 in a different body with a different theme. That means the pros and cons of these two devices are one and the same. Like the Bold 9900, the P'9981 is an amazing communication tool (even though the keyboard isn't quite as good as the 9900's, it's still really great). And like the 9900, the app/content experience isn't as good as it is on the PlayBook OS/BlackBerry 10 or the competition from iOS and Android. But what the P'9981 is lacking compared to the competition doesn't matter, as if you're seriously looking to buy this phone you probably already also own an iPad or PlayBook or Android tablet or iPod touch or several of each. You're buying this because you value the BlackBerry communication experience and want to embrace it in the most exclusive way possible. Which also means it's the most expensive way.

Reader comments

Porsche Design P'9981 BlackBerry Official Unboxing and First Impressions Video!


I agree... Even if I have access to endless amount of money, I would just not buy this but rather buy all the OS 7 devices came out to the market.

It shows us how insistent RIM is on launching products that everyone objected and how RIM manages to put in negative amount of thoughts in deciding what to do with their brands.

Who the bloody hell would want to take out that thing in a professional environment? So are we suppose to use iPhone during weekday and switch to BB7 on weekend now? Did they really think a phone with this price tag without concierge service would work? Did they really think the other companies paid the crazy sums for concierge was just stupid? Why not have a phone that have no keyboard, no touchscreen, no phoning capability and no network connection? Why not just sell luxury bricks?

WTF are you talking about you moron? This is a porsche-desgined phone. Porsche wanted to make a BlackBerry using their design teams etc. They asked RIM to build it to their specifications etc.

The majority of people don't use smartphones for anything more than calls, email, text, BBM or browsing, which this phone does pretty well.

It's also meant to be a status symbol. A $10,000 rolex doesn't tell time any better than a $30 dollar Timex, so why is this phone singled out?

Judging by your response, I'm guessing your just a disgruntled and jealous brat who feels entitled to what everyone else can get. This phone is a hot seller among the elite in Dubai and the UAE. I think RIM needs all the status symbols and exclusivity as possible. Only a few years ago, all the celebs were using BlackBerry's.

A Rolex does last longer than a Timex, has better service, usually people choose to buy models with dual timezones/chronograph/moonphase, etc. The same applies to phones, luxury phones like Vertu comes with concierge service. What you are saying is not comparing a Rolex with a Timex but placing a $10.000 price tag on a $30 Timex and calling it a status symbol.

The phone is actually available in a lot of places in Asia and selling extremely poorly. Last time I check, there are a few in Hong Kong which are dropping in prices. Most people don't dig the look, so it's like saying a badly designed Timex charged with a higher price could market itself as a Rolex.

Only a few years ago, there were no iMessage, whatsapp, etc and BBM was the exclusive and unique mobile IM...now it's nothing.

"Only a few years ago, there were no iMessage, whatsapp, etc and BBM was the exclusive and unique mobile IM...now it's nothing."

I'm sorry, but BBM has a status and name recognition, iMessage is a glorified texting service and whatsapp is used by very few people.

I actually think companies will buy these phones. There are times when a company is trying to sell themselves to another company and what better way to say "We are awesome" than to have everyone on the "sales team" rocking $2,000 phones. People want stock brokers and hedge fund guys that make a ton of money. They want them wearing expensive suits, have fancy cars, wearing expensive watches, and rocking expensive but functional phones. This is the target audience for this phone.

False. Businesses will not buy a $2000 phone with exactly the same functionality as a $200 phone for their reps or salesmen, because what does that say about the company? It says they are willing to spend an outsize sum of money to make *themselves* look good (not the client) and that provides no additional functional benefit whatsoever. It's one thing to take a client out for a cruise and a thousand-dollar dinner. That's spending money *on* the client, and that is frequently a wise investment. It's another thing entirely to buy expensive, unnecessary toys for your employees with no perceivable additional business value. I would not want to do business with a company that could not tell the difference between those two kinds of expenditures.

I must say, I find it obscene! You people want tot talk about iSheep who will buy anything Apple craps out, and pay any amount of money for it just for status. Yet, this whole product and exercise of buying publicly is just that. I thought I was appalled by the purchase of a useless, $500 app a few weeks ago by CBK. This is just embarrassing. Just imagine RR from iMore buying a $2000 iPhone and $500 app just to show his colors. Imagine the outcry you would have about him and the whole Apple community. Now magnify that and apply it to CBK because he actually did it.

Kevin makes his living by doing reviews of BlackBerry products. Do you really expect him to not put some of the money he makes back into the site to make it better and make sure he covers EVERYTHING BlackBerry.

If there was a $2,000 iPhone, I would definitely expect someone from iMore to purchase it if they didn't get a free one. If they didn't do a proper unboxing and review, the site would be looked at as amatuer.

CrackBerry.com is a huge success and money maker because Kevin puts his time and money back into the site. To criticize him for that is idiotic and hypocrytical.

Edit: Also, Kevin can write off all of these purchases.

I agree, I wish I had the cash to buy the phone. I wouldn't buy it though. I just wish I had the cash!

Ugh! Looks so bad... Disgusting industrial design. Brutal. Just brutal. And that theme!! AARRGH!
The original 9900 looks so much better!

For a phone that costs $2,000, I am not really impressed.

I'm sure I'd be saying that, even if I had the money.

Whoa! What?!?! That fugly-a** phone costs two grand?!?! Now frickin way! Is it rockin' the same specs as the Bold 9900? (Which--now don't get me wrong, I love my Bold--is already way below its competitors!)

I wouldn't take that ugly thing if someone gave it to me for free. Well, maybe I'd give it to a newborn as a teething instrument.


So, do you have a watch that cost more than a $20 Casio? Do you know any women who wear diamond wedding rings?

Compared to a Vertu, this is a steal...

Thunderbuck...diamond wedding rings may be overpriced, but at least they're shiny. This thing is like a crusty dogturd crushed flat with a keyboard attached to it.

You're right, though, this is a steal...the company stealing money from anyone callous enough to actually buy one.

With a diamond ring you can sell it later and, pending on the market, get the same back as you paid for it.

How much is this going to be worth in 5 years? BB trade in will have it down for $35.00 if your lucky.

Still not a fan of this device...and people thought the 9670 was an ugly BlackBerry. To me this one takes that title hands down, sorry boss man.

Samsung just unveiled a quad-core Android phone... why would RIM try to improve an old-school Java based phone w a 1-2y old CPU like this one.....

Definitely right Kev, Stylish? No... Status? Yes! I understand your position to justify this purchase. God knows what I would have done if I had the money to spare.

I would not buy it for a $1000 it looks too brutish prefer my White 99xx

Thx for the unboxing.

Cannot believe they did not provide a case for it says it all really all show!

It looks more like an alpha design, a phone just built to test internal components, OS etc, not a functional every day phone. Guess I'm saying, it really is unattractive.

Great review Kevin. I understand your take on the phone. It's the status that the p'9981 brings with it. Whether the design is perfect or not the price tag that comes with it is the choice of the user. We all have our favourite BB device, the one that suits us and gives us that "emotional" attachment you talk about. If I had the money, for sure I would carry one around. And for sure I would place it directly on the table or counter or golf cart or whenever I was, for all eyes to see. Cause that is just what you do with a device like that. And kingbernie - no disrespect brother. But Samsung?? come on. No matter what RIM is deciding to "improve" on, Android lost it's "unique" status with their 300th device release. This collaboration between RIM and Porsche was not to compete with some soon to be released mainstream Android. It was for the purpose that Kevin tried to get across - Unique. And boss man, I got exactly what that point was.

Congrats and enjoy it Kevin. A well deserved addition to your collection.

Even if I had the money I wouldn't buy this phoe. There's no incentive to buying it, no extra features or anithing special about it, not to mention it's ugly.

A total waste of money and time RIM, you should've put more effort on a better version of the 9900 with added front facing cam, added auto-focus cam, HDMI and REAL hardware UMA

For $4000.00 I'd have used it for a fantastic all inclusive resort in Cancun with Miss Crackberry instead of these "Elvis Las Vegas gaudy sunglasses" Truely as P.T Barnum said many years ago...

I would honestly love to have one of these. Yes, I know there is almost no difference functionally from a 9900, and it's more of a fashion statement than anything else, but I love the retro-80s-sci-fi look of it.

It was my "birthday wish", so I'm keeping my fingers crossed... lol

I don't know, I don't really like the design nor the theme. But wow, 2k, that's a lot of money I can't even afford to upgrade my 9700 to a Torch 2 :( Damn you WIND mobile!!

Nice Collectors Item, it would be interesting to hear about the history or the making of this P' 9981, and what the inspiration was creatively speaking.


So cool! If I could afford it I would so put that bad boy in my collection. Peeps can say what they want but the bottom line is not everyone is strolling the hood with one of these. On top of that call me a ferritt but hey I like shiny silver things. Not rich by any stretch, don't own a porche and donot own a P9981 but with a little luck Crackberry will come through for me on my birthday wish :-) One outa three would be fine with me!

Glad I'm not the only one who thinks this is one of the ugliest phones I've ever seen. The 9900 is a very attractive phone, and so is the new Curve. But this? Gah. Who'd buy one? I'd rather my phone looked like a slab of frozen beef tongue than this.

I can get you frozen beef tongue if you're serious.


Former BB Fanboy who came up the ranks from a Curve to a Bold to a Torch before jumping ship to Android. Waiting longingly for the BB that brings me back. It's an OS thing, not form factor.

I'll pass, there, AgentScribe.

I jumped ship to Android a year ago, and just returned to the Bold 9900 this year. I liked Android. The phone I had was top-of-the-line, very fast, very capable, and better than the Bold in almost every respect. But I just couldn't live with a touch-screen. I was carrying around my old Curve (without a service plan) to write on. I decided in the end, I'd rather write, and then carry around my Android tablet as a secondary device.

RIDICULOUS!!! $2000 for a Bold 9900, only a idiot would buy that phone, but in today's world they will sale a lot of them.

Hey Kevin,

I'm not a fan of the PD 9900, but I LOVE the new Planet Ocean! Is yours the 8500? Looks like but hard to tell for sure.....



Wonder if Mike or Jim have one.
That is a lot to spend on a phone.
Can I get it from Rogers or Telus .... I want to be noticed !

I doubt very much if the king of CrackBerry spent $4000 on these two phones.

He's in tight now with RIM and the new CEO. There is no way Kevin (or any member of his family) paid $4000.

Tops $1200.

Hey Kevin, at 1 min and 12 seconds into the video I officially hated you for having two. I'm not exactly crazy about the design, but certainly wish my 9780 had the same specs. Ok, I'm over it now :) I can continue the video now.

Hey Crackberry Kevin, Great looking PO! I had not realized that you enjoyed watches too. How long have you had it? Cheers.

I love the phone. I would love it even more if I had 1.


BB 9780 white os 6

BB Playbook 32gb os

I would definitely get one if I had the $$$$ to get one, being a loyal BlackBerry user & abuser. And all you haters stop hatin on CrackBerry Kev.. I doubt he cares if you think its ugly.. Being our fearless leader its only right he have this fine exclusive BlackBerry.. Go Kev.. Congrats!

Kevin this is the perfect review for this phone... a massive Show off. Only thing missing was the $ 500 Clock app running on the P9981

There's one thing missing from your P'9981...and that's a Cesar HQ clock app.

EDIT: Takhis you beat me to that comment.

So ... where do we buy accessories for this phone ? Maybe cases or holsters or even a screen protector ? CrackBerry doesn't sell them and I dont see them anywhere else either.

Awesome post!! Where else can you see the review of the Porsche version Bold? Was always curious! Mac Daddy of Bold for sure! Will never be in my budget,but stand out for sure! Rock it Kevin!!

LOLOLOL.....Kev you kill me! I had to pause because I was laughing so hard. I love the arrogance. "I don't want you to hate me because I have a P'9981......hate me because I have TWO". That rocks!
Good review. I could certainly score one of those........sitting at the local timmies moochin their wifi, P'9981 on the right, double double on the left and my PB in the middle.

Kevin - You should put that $500 clock app you bought at Devcon Europe on it. They would make a killer combo....

This Kevin guy gets waaaaaaaaaay to excited at nothing. "Oh man, nice pull tab to pull the phone out of the box". "Beautiful magnetic box", may not all be word for word but lets be honest here, Blackberry could box up a piece of sh*t and he'd get excited. This phone is ugly, boxy and ugly and ugly. I'd rather have my old Bold 9000 than that POS. RIM never learns.

You type of people sound so illiterate. This is just a collaboration with RIM and Porsche. Stop sounding off like this is RIM's next gen device, geeze. Obviously you can't afford it so it's not for you. One more thing, have you heard of BB10???

Like Kevin always says.. There is no perfect smartphone.. only the perfect smartphone for you. This is just a nicely dressed Blackberry.. If I had the money I would buy it too.. There is a difference between cost and worth.. But if you believe what you do, then you will invest everything! This phone is pretty sweet! Probably has authentic materials and you get what you pay for.

bought it, use it , after less than 1 week, i sold it.

-keyboard is not as nice as 9900
-keyboard backlighting are uneven making it looks like cheap phone.
-build quality is not porsche standard, its more like a Blackberry standard.
the battery door on mine is a little bit squeaky and theres a light leakage on the left side of the phone.

the worst thing or the most important thing that made me sell this damn phone is that , its lack of OS updates !
even with the "well established" 9900, the official OSes has been a little bit slow to release
so i got to use leak 7.1 os on my 9900
and that too is not perfect yet.
but this 9981 have no leak Oses
and the official is so old.


do i recommend people to buy it ?
hell NO!

its a sexy phone from design stand of view.

but lacking of OSes releases and bad build quality (hey it's RIM , what can you expect) seriously for a 2000$ phone this can be considered severely bad build quality.
compared it to a Vertu and you'll know what i mean.
this is a bad buy.

Now that they have made a $2000 Porsh phone, they should do a more affordable $100 VW version. But I would just opt for the $1000 Audi phone.

That thing is fugly. And the theme looks like something from an 80's scifi flick.

Maybe if it had a sleek black metal-flake paint job, or something. Maybe some gold (real gold ) trimming.

You buy this phone, because you can, and you have too much money, you don't know how to spend it, not because someone told you this is the most advanced phone (because it's not). To show that you have money! Simple as that.

I remember someone commenting of some footballer that paid $3000 for two prostitutes, that for him it was like picking up the taxi fare for a one night stand. So if you think of a football player or a Saudi prince thinking of this as you would think of a $20 phone, you can see how far the world has got out of kilter.

Incidentally, Porsche Design is nothing to do with the cars. The original Ferdinand Porsche was Hitler's favourite "engineer" and had ideas about everything, including insane thousand tonne tanks. He actually helped Germany lose the Battle of the Kursk. His idea for a cheap car wasn't even implemented by him - it was created after WW2 by the VW company with the support of a British Army Officer, Ivan Hirsch. The first Porsche sports cars were based on VWs.

But then, referring to a comment above, a $150 Swiss watch and a $1500 watch will often have exactly the same movement made by the same company.

I can't believe for that price it doesn't come with a case, somebody needs to make one. I would get it insured or get it its own body guard.

One of the ugliest phones ever created. I'd be embarrassed if I ran Porsche and hired RIM to make this phone for me and this was the best they could do. It's just brutal to look at both hardware and theme wise.

For $2000....that phone should come with insurance, lifetime warranty, immediate updates, a premium case, a huge selection of free apps, wall charger and car charger, and a extended extra battery

Several people are missing the point here. This phone has nothing to do with regular people or pushing the limits of new technology or making you want to join the BB user community.

This is for people who have £1262 ($2000) to spend on a phone they like the look of in the way that we have a tenner to spend on a DVD. They have this sort of money every day and think nothing of spending £500 on a pair of jeans and similar expense that most of us consider ridiculous.

As a prestige branding exercise for RIM, this is a winner. With the publicity generated by word of mouth only, it shows the perspicacity behind the move.

Would I buy one? Not likely, even with unlimited resources I can think of better things to "show off" my status or bling.

If someone handed me one as a gift would I use it? yeah you bet I would!

Not completely sold on the design. Seems a little 90's sci-fi to me (watch Star Trek: The Next Generation to see what I mean). Not that I hate it, but the 9900, and even the 9000 look sexier to me.

Glad I watched it though, but again like Kevin said, its not about the guts of the phone... its about the "glory" or glam or bling. Really... if you can drop 2G on a phone for "status" you can probably afford top-of-the-line tech from Apple or any of the Android devices out there as well.

Great review Kevin. Looks like you were way too excited...as I would be too with a new mobile.
I have actually handled the P'9981 and like the majority I was pretty much in the same boat with its design. Handling the mobile is another story. One would think Porsche's design team could have made it more luxurious by removing the leather backing and using a flat carbon fiber backing as well as smoothing out the curves like their cars and SUV's. More work could have gone into making this mobile worth its tag and I'm taking about richer specs aside from its design. I do understand that the "deep pockets" will get the P'9981 for its exclusiveness and not for all the bells and whistles that us user want, but it looks like maybe a missed opportunity for RIM to really really show they're stuff...

Was a good review.. Last night ater i saw the review I went to the porsche design website and even added the phone to the cart. But, had to stop myself from ordering it due to the obvious reason (big bucks).

Anyways i am still rocking my 9900 and 9780.. and love them both. Enjoy the phone Kevin.

Very cool phone!.... Since you have two of them, how about you give one away?? And since it was my idea, I will take it! :)

Very envious of your tablet/phone collection... lol You should have bought the $500 clock app on your P'9981... Now that would've been epic!

Recently I have noticed a number of blog posts on other popular sites comparing smart phones "since the iphone" and how similar they all look.

Remember feature phones? There were phones YOU thought were cool, and I thought were ugly, and the other way around. I think it's awesome that RIM and Porsche are doing this colab...and I hope that more phone colabs occur in the future.

I personally think the phone is kind of ugly, but I think it's awesome that it's out there on the market.

There is one of these for sale in Waterloo on kijiji for $350. I can't see paying 2 grand for a fancy looking 9900, $350 maybe.

"I don't want you to hate me because I have a $2,000 Blackberry............"

Um, believe me, we DON'T. My poor man's 9930 is a hell of lot better looking and costs a lot less.

RIM would have been far better off having a Bold with the option of a bigger battery pack and an auto-focus camera ALONG with a tasteful chassis. Trust me, you would have had more of those flying off the shelf...
This looks like the phone a drug dealer would beat his mules with when they refuse to swallow that extra condom.

"You're gonna have a playbook for games and apps, or you're gonna have an iPad for games and apps and stuffs, or you're gonna have kindle fire for games and apps and stuffs..." My jaw dropped

Those weren't looks of awe Kevin....they were looks of stupidity for spending $2000 on a phone.