While the BlackBerry is an essential part of many small offices, the smartphone is not without its nuisances. BlackBerry users with different phone models all report issues with similar symptoms: The screen stays black or shuts off and a red light stays on or flashes. This behavior is related to either the battery or the phone's software, but you can troubleshoot to isolate -- and fix -- the issue.
Before troubleshooting the BlackBerry for software problems, it's important to consider what happened to the phone prior to this behavior. If you dropped the phone or if it got wet, the problem may not be connected to the software and may not be something you can fix. Most cell phone warranties don't cover drops or spills. If you did get the BlackBerry wet, consider drying it out in a bowl of uncooked rice for a couple of days -- this will absorb the moisture and may get the phone working again.
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Sometimes, a black screen and red light are the product of the phone freezing and its software crashing. If the power button isn't working, you can force the phone to shut down by removing its battery. On some BlackBerry models, you can access the battery directly from the back of the phone; on others, you have to remove the back plastic on the phone and then press the battery release switch to eject the battery. Leave the battery out for 20 or 30 seconds and then put it back in and turn the phone back on. If the phone turns on normally, the issue may have been a short in the battery.
As with any smartphone manufacturer, Research in Motion released updated software for all of its BlackBerrys from time to time that fixes known glitches in the operating system. If your phone isn't loading its operating system and showing only a black screen and flashing red light, connect your BlackBerry to your computer using its USB cable and then launch Desktop Manager. When the software loads, it will scan your device and check online to see if a new version of its software exists. Click "Device" and "Update my Device" to check for an update; follow the on-screen prompts to complete the update.
Some users report conflicts between different BlackBerry models and expandable media, or SD, cards. These SD cards expand the amount of space on your phone, but if the file system on the card is corrupt, the phone may not load or wake from sleep properly, causing the screen to stay black. Try ejecting the SD card and turning the phone back on. Alternatively, the SIM card may be faulty and causing the phone to stop loading when network access dips in and out; if possible, ask your cell provider to test another SIM card.