Blackberry Q20 Classic

using a Blackberry Classic / Q20 as primary phone for a year 2022/23

(besides a smartphone, and also mostly besides a Palm)

Battery life


I bought it with a battery far from perfect, but it seemed to deteriorate a lot over this less than a year. Precisely 24h of uptime is non-usable for a non-smartphone.

It behaves quite odd when it tries to charge itself from zero

It has a peculiar technique of finding a good moment to try powering up to react to user’s button press prompting for that, but still doesn’t do so on its own usually.

There is a sophisticated color coding going on about what color does the LED blink before the phone turns on from zero power.

System stats of apps

Battery life can be inspected with a stats manager for time periods that don’t reset just on last full charge - up to 48h.

The battery stats analyzer doesn’t account for app-induced wake-ups enough however. That makes especially some Android-compat layer apps turn into battery hogs just staying in background to receive notifications.

But there is analysis of CPU and RAM and network consumption each app, along with overall CPU use statistics, also for up to 48h.

Batteries for Blackberry Q20 are not easily available.

Only place to find them is AliExpress, and there they are hard to sort from many variants because these offers are a mess. They are also not made for user replacement, they require some disassembly.

Blackberry ID issues

The servers are down. And they were never meant to be. Some services like I guess BBM still try to get your Blackberry ID.

Sometimes on a factory reset it will just assume it didn’t get a network connection and you’re gonna be stuck on a WiFi choice screen, having to use quirky ways like a screen reader to make your way out to skip it, or just going into Recent apps.

A lot of devices are permanently locked with a Blackberry account like they're stolen.

And you are going to get notifications a lot about needing to set up your Blackberry ID on the device.

Blackberry Hub

You swipe to it from the homescreen. It’s to the left of recent apps, to the right of recent apps are the app icons.

App notifications

Just turn them off, move them out of your Hub. You want neither the frequent notifications about not having Blackberry ID set up nor you want the Android apps to show you anything because you will see no content until you tap it - in order to see a late-Holo Jelly Bean themed notification taken straight out of a vanilla Android 4.3 device.

SMS/MMS texts

They stay in your Hub until you delete them. There is a feature to export a message into another app via Sharing. What also stays in your Hub is the calls. Unless you opt to not have them shown in the Hub listing.


The real reason for Blackberry Hub.

Unread messages in picked synchronized folders appear directly in Hub, with an icon that they are not from an inbox. Although picking folders to synchronize is a chore, can’t just pick all subfolders. There is a view to list all attachments in Hub. And the Docs To Go app that you will find preinstalled can work doc docx and xsl xslx just great.

Flagged emails automatically go to a folder for them in Remember.

When you move emails between IMAP folders, it remembers where to.

But: doesn’t have inline replying. Only the business style with quote below after a header.

The Remember app

There’s folders for notes, folders for tasks, as well as tags for either.

Elements have a title and a description field with optional formatting (font size two sizes down from Normal and many sizes up, 16 font colors, checkboxes inline, bullet and numbered lists, B/I/U of course) and tags, as well as attachments and voice notes. Tasks can have both a reminder set as well as a separate due date

Calendar and contacts

CardDAV and CalDAV enable you to sync with Fastmail or Nextcloud or whatever. Pretty neat. Calendar has alarms in it. The app is done well.

Music & multimedia

A very apparent and controllable aptX Bluetooth codec support.

Ability to listen to music on the phone’s earpiece instead of the loudspeaker.

Not showing up on lock screen, but at least the middle volume button works for it. Only thing that button does, because it doesn’t have the functions known from original Blackberries despite being confused to be the same.

MHL HDMI and Miracast support are to let you present a document in a business setting. Or a movie maybe. Haven’t tried.

Camera has Time Shift mode for portraits, quite neat.

Other hard features

Seemingly quite first class Wi-Fi Direct support.

Flashlight sometimes turns off suddenly while appearing still on in the system.

LTE - 4G, with the “Active Point” feature being quite smart about when it switches off, also telling you about devices connected.

Screenshots can be made very quickly with Volume Up + Down, almost immediately and not too interruptively.

VPN kinds supported, with many parameters:

The keyboard has a $ key. It’s funny, it’s just that.

The keyboard is much better than that on Blackberry Q5. I had one in hands for a few days.

The lock screen has a notifications view, and one of the lock methods is having you swipe one of a grid of random digits into a position on a photo, not sure if custom or only supplied.

I can’t figure out quick silent mode without unlocking or time preset without creating calendar events. I used to think the middle key was supposed to do that.

The smart tags app

The tags app with NFC and 2D/1D barcode scan and generation (to file as well). A writable NFC tag can trigger a lot in the system.

Other stuff impaired by dead Blackberry servers

All kinds of maps and stuff. The Assistant, brought up with dollar or zero key from homescreen, doesn’t do voice recognition. Not sure if there is a very basic offline one but I think not.

The home screen

Pressing the End Call button takes you to a Recent Apps view where you can see what’s running in background/cache. The tiles serve as kind of widgets because there is often a special view of what’s open in them if the app supports it.

You can have home screen keyboard key shortcuts for starting an app, typing an email or a text to a specified recipient, speed dial of course, as well as creating a new note or a task in Remember, or to toggle ringer modes or to lock the device. Zero and $ take you straight to typing into the Assistant.

You can have folders for the apps, and all apps need to be on the home screens.

There is a red clock bedtime mode, that you can access straight from the lock screen, with alarms indicated on the face but it actually also doesn’t stay on even on charger.

The spell checker and autocorrect

You don’t capitalize “i” whilst English? you will need to alias “I” to “i”, only let yourself type in “I” as “Ii” with another alias (“shortcut”).

At least Polish language has all the feminine forms of first person active verbs just missing entirely, you need to add each by hand to your dictionary.

The web browsing & TLS

The built-in browser is quite sluggish. But you can have Opera Mini.

I’m not sure if TLS 1.3 works on the device but TLS 1.2 sure does. But you need to browse through root CA certs to download and install to get things to work, and I failed to find them all.

Apps. Android apps, because there is no other.

You can’t have any first-class citizen apps these days, they’re not available.

The emulation layer often feels botched. Is amazing, but still.

Android apps notifications - you will see no content until you tap it: in order to see a late-Holo Jelly Bean themed notification taken straight out of a vanilla Android 4.3 device.

If you set something to be a default app, there is no way to reach the settings about it to fix it - you can’t access the Android app settings as Android app settings even though they pretty sure must be somewhere there.

Messenger apps like Telegram FOSS are utterly sluggish to the point of being unusable. In an Android app, two fingers from the top lets you choose whether to resize app screen to higher density or into a more vertical rectangle.

F-Droid apps matching API 16 sometimes ran but sometimes failed to install.

It is the most recent OS version that supports user-supplied apks. Earlier required you to repackage them or to just use the Amazon App Store that also came app rather late.

I did manage to run B4A’s both Designer and regular device app quite well.

BTW, keyboard is just keycodes, that simply works.

ConnectBot was pretty cool and ran excellent. (pressing the trackpad =Ctrl)

Opening the keyboard’s SYM view makes apps like ConnectBot resize for a moment after a split second. Into a very thin view.

ES File Explorer from Amazon App Store was almost usable, and it was my access to WebDAV file store.