BlackBerry: How to stop a ‘brick’ or ‘nuke’ before it happens

The modern BlackBerry smartphone can be “quirky,” to put it mildly.
That frustrating spinning clock face when your device can’t handle all the running processes. The need to reboot your device after most new application installs. The seemingly endless boot time whenever you remove and replace the battery. And, perhaps the most dreaded BlackBerry oddity of all: The “bricked” or “nuked” BlackBerry.

There’s no single cause for a bricked or nuked ‘Berry, or a BlackBerry that simply won’t turn on due to an endless reboot cycle, a Java-related error or other electronic skullduggery. (I hate that damn white 507 error screen, HATE it!)

And unfortunately, BlackBerry users who install lots of applications, change “themes,” or otherwise customize their devices will very likely at some point find themselves with a bricked or nuked smartphone.

As a long-time BlackBerry user, I’ve just come to think the occasional nuked ‘Berry as part of life with a RIM smartphone. (I know, it’s an unfortunate truth, and one that helps convince many BlackBerry users to jump ship to Android or the iPhone.)

This post does not detail the process for repairing a bricked or nuked BlackBerry–you should pop on over to for the definitive guide on that subject.

Rather, this post is meant to serve as a public service announcement (PSA) for the average BlackBerry user; this posts highlights a fairly common situation that’s practically guaranteed to brick your BlackBerry and explains how to avoid it. You may still end up with a bricked BlackBerry at some point, even if you follow this advice perfectly. But the following information will help prevent the situation.

During the past couple of months, I accidentally nuked my BlackBerry twice in the exact same way. It started when I got a BlackBerry App World home screen notification. I clicked on the notification to open up App World and update the application. And, as usual, after I clicked the app to confirm the update, my BlackBerry asked me if I wanted to replace the old version of the software with a new one. I did, so I confirmed the update. I saw the app download bar move bit, signaling that the app was downloading. And then the problems started.
A few seconds later, I got the same prompt, asking me if I wanted to replace the current version of the application with a new one. This is a sign that something is going wrong with the app update, and I should’ve remembered it from my last run in with a bricked ‘Berry. But I didn’t, so I again confirmed the update…then a few seconds later, I confirmed the update via prompt again…and a few seconds later, I confirmed it again.
When the application finally finished downloading and installing, App World told me that I needed to reboot my BlackBerry to finish the installation. So I did. And I ended up with a nuked ‘Berry. Again.

The lesson here: BlackBerry App World should only ask you to confirm an application update once. If you’re updating a BlackBerry application via App World, and the store asks you more than once to confirm an application update, DO NOT just keep confirming the prompts until the app finishes downloading. If you do, you’ll likely end up with a useless BlackBerry.

Instead, Click “No” when the multiple prompts ask if you want to confirm the update, then delete the application from your handheld and reinstall it via BlackBerry App World. This should leave you with the latest version of the application and you won’t brick your BlackBerry in the process of updating.

Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Al at

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