by Al Sacco

BlackBerry Now Sells Unlocked Smartphones, but Who’s Buyin’?

Sep 30, 20132 mins
MobileSmall and Medium BusinessSmartphones

BlackBerry started selling unlocked Z10 and Q10 smartphones directly online. But they aren't cheap, and now may not be the best time to invest in a BlackBerry, or the company, according to's Al Sacco.

Shortly after announcing a massive loss “inventory charge” of $934 million dollars related to the failed launch of it first BlackBerry 10 smartphone, the Z10, BlackBerry started selling unlocked Z10 and Q10 smartphones directly via its website.

BlackBerry Megadeth Vic Peace Sells

Four years ago, the move probably would have been embraced by countless BlackBerry fans. Today, it’s unclear exactly who is going to drop $450 or more on an unlocked BlackBerry.

The Z10 is available in both white and black, and the unlocked version costs $449. (Read my full review of the device here if you’re interested.) And the Q10, which comes in the same two colors, costs $549 unlocked.

Unlocked BlackBerry Q10 and Z10 smartphones

Unlocked smartphones mostly appeal to folks who don’t want to sign costly wireless service contracts and would rather pay the cost of the unsubsidized phones upfront. People who want to use exclusive devices on other carriers or who live in areas where certain devices aren’t available may also be interested in unlocked devices. And BlackBerry’s move may be intended to help it move as much existing inventory as possible before it finalizes a deal with Fairfax Financial Holdings, which is expected to acquire BlackBerry in November.

But if so, those prices seem slightly steep to me. And investing ~$500 in a platform with a future that’s, um, uncertain, at this point, probably isn’t the brightest idea.