by lunarg on January 15th 2010, at 12:00

Once in a while, it may become necessary to update the Blackberry OS to a newer version. I've noticed with the service providers in Belgium that they are usually some versions behind. If whenever you need to run an application that requires a more sane (recent) version of the BB OS, you get stuck because you cannot install and/or run it.

Now you may wonder what the problem is?
Indeed, one can download the latest version from the Blackberry site, but doing so may actually break your setup, as there are quite a few things to consider:

  • Does your device support the new OS?
  • Does your service provider support the new OS?
  • If you are running BES, is it new enough to support the new OS?

Luckily, Blackberry has a portal where you can find download links to most (if not, all) providers of Blackberry.

In this list, find your service provider, and continue to the downloads section. You will be able to download both the OS and desktop software for your computer.

Updating the OS

The OS itself is an EXE which you need to download and run on a computer to which the Blackberry is connected (via USB).

  1. First of, the obligatory prerequisites:
    • First, Make sure your battery is charged before attempting the update! While the device is charged through USB, it is recommended to have it charged enough for the update to complete. An update quickly takes up around an hour, so be prepared.
    • If you are using BES, ask your administrator to set a new activation password. Updating a firmware requires the Enterprise Activation to be redone.
    • It is highly recommmended to create a backup of your device. Updating the OS completely wipes the thing, so you'll lose everything on it (accept for items on your SIM). If you only use the device through BES, this is not a requirement, as everything is put back once Enterprise Activation is completed.
      To create a backup, install and use the Blackberry Desktop Software. Once again, if you're using BES, do not activate synchronisation; otherwise, you'll end up with duplicate entries.
  2. Connect your Blackberry to your computer via an USB device, and start up the OS installer. It will ask you to select a connection port, but if the Blackberry is properly connected, it will automatically select the right connection. Notice its PIN present in the description of the connection.
  3. The installer will ask you if it should create a backup. This is similar to a backup with the desktop software, accept that this backup is used to restore your files and partial settings once the OS update is completed.
    Do not assume this backup will be usable in case of a disaster. A separate backup using Blackberry Desktop Software remains highly recommended.
  4. Now, the installation process begins: the settings are backupped, the device is wiped, the OS installed, etc. This will take a while.
  5. When the OS is installed, it will take a considerable amount of time (up to an hour) before the new OS is booted. Although it may seem the device is doing nothing, do not interrupt the process!
  6. Finally, the installer will restore as much as possible from the backup it took at the beginning.
  7. Optional (you're using BES): reactivate by going through Options > Advanced Options > Enterprise Activation. Type in your email address and the activation password you got earlier from your BES administrator.

New features

A list of new features and compatibility matrix can be found here:

In short, there should be a lot of minor fixes and additional features available, along with an improved layout and more responsive UI. One neat thing is the ability to view and edit Word and Powerpoint files right on your device.

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