The Good The BlackBerry Classic combines a comfortable, crisp keyboard with an attractive design that BlackBerry fans will surely enjoy. Android app support will please all of us as well.
The Bad The spacious four-line keyboard reduces the size of the screen.
The Bottom Line If you’re ready to trade screen sizes for an enhanced physical keyboard, the BlackBerry Classic is a fantastic performance phone for old QWERTY nutri.
The BlackBerry Classic strives to succeed where it is BlackBerry Bold 9900 not. Released in 2011, the 9900 had a BlackBerry 7 OS, powerful hardware, a four-line QWERTY BlackBerry keyboard, and a touch screen, but that didn’t significantly change the company’s fortunes after iOS and Android.
Three years later, the $ 449 BlackBerry Classic (about 285 pounds) retains the BlackBerry signature design, but relies on pleasant memories from BlackBerry fans. You still get this great keyboard, and it even launches Android apps, but the 3.5-inch display is uncomfortably small in the age of large-screen phones, and the uncomfortable square aspect ratio hinders all activities except text editing and editing. Hard emails that just can’t handle touch screen dials can find enough RIM glory days here to give two fingers – before giving those same workout numbers to this fantastic hard keyboard.
Design and specs
BlackBerry has taken another swing at the signature bold design we saw last year BlackBerry Q10 – no wonder, at first it was Classic known as the Q20 . In any case, you’ll find a 3.5-inch display that is slightly larger than the Q10’s but retains a 720×720 pixel square resolution. The phone itself is 5.1 inches high, 2.8 inches wide and 0.4 inches thick.
As the name implies, the phone boasts the classic BlackBerry design. The stainless steel frame borders the entire length of the phone, instantly giving the device power and style. To the right are three buttons: the volume knob and the mute button – press and hold it to call BlackBerry Assistant. The slots for the SIM card and SD card are on the left side: the phone accepts nano-SIM cards and the SD cards up to 128 GB. The back is bare, except for the BlackBerry logo, but has a delicate texture that holds on nicely.
Of course, this is BlackBerry, so here we are at the keyboard. BlackBerry has always positioned itself as a champion of people who would not dream of leaving a physical keyboard behind, and the company’s efforts shine through here. The layout will be really familiar to anyone who has used the BlackBerry in the last three to four years, and it is almost identical to the one that appeared on Q10.
Three key widths extend the width of the phone, and a smaller, fourth row below it. The typing feels fantastic: each key has small combs and indentations, so if you type a touch, you will always be aware when your fingers switch between the keys, which helps with accuracy. And the keys offer a nice typing every press that allows you to enter text confidently.
Four more utility keys are just below the display – Call, Menu, Back, and End – which do exactly what they say. The optical touchpad is located in the middle and serves as a cursor that allows you to browse websites or documents, making it really easy to select copies of text or email packets for mass correction. Classic also offers shortcuts: hold down certain keys for quick access to certain functions. For example, holding “A” displays the address book, and holding “Q” quickly toggles silent mode. You can also press any key on the keyboard and assign your own shortcuts to specific contacts or applications.
Software and features
BlackBerry Classic runs on BlackBerry 10.3.1, and the experience here is almost identical to what we saw on the BlackBerry Passport. Software remains a weakness of the platform, and although it supports Android applications, you are largely limited to what is on the Amazon Appstore. If you have an APK for the application you want to install, you can also download it. There is also a BlackBerry World App Store: BlackBerry says it is a common hope that you will get corporate-grade secure applications from BlackBerry World by contacting the Amazon App Store for your entertainment needs.
The limited selection of apps is a bit more voluminous, but the square side ratio will be more of a problem, since many Android apps just look weird in square format. There are a number of fixes: if you swipe down from the top of the screen in BlackBerry 10.3.1, you will make a call to the application menu. When you run Android apps, you’ll see a Size hint – click it, and you’ll be able to choose from three different screen-to-screen presets that can help more and more.
Classic BlackBerry Sports Assistant, a virtual assistant that works just like Siri or Google Now. Ask a question or give it a task and it will do it. You can also enter your request if you are in a meeting.
It also boasts BlackBerry Blend, which is a kind of command center for BlackBerry users. By downloading the app on a PC, Mac or mobile device running iOS or Android, you will have almost total control over your BlackBerry phone – just connect it to your computer using a USB cable or any of your devices via Wi-Fi or cellular network . If your company has BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, you can also switch to a corporate network without navigating through VPNs and the like.
With Blend, you can write emails, BBMs, and text messages and reply to all your messages directly through the app, as well as check calendars and contacts synced to your device – no data is stored on your PC or tablet ‘You will reconnect mixtures, so less worry. It can also be real-time for those times when you are missing out but want to stay productive.
The most convincing feature of Blend is file management. Allows the app to access almost the entire device, including documents, files, photos and videos. You can also add files to your BlackBerry device directly through Blend.
The classic device runs on a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm 8960, a respectable – if dated – processor. Coupled with 2GB of RAM, I saw Nari hinting at lagging or stuttering when bouncing on the phone, running emails, or taking photos. Most of my testing involved texting and web browsing. They are the tasks for which the Classic was developed, and the phone addresses them with aplomb. Get out of your comfort zone, and it’s a little bit smaller: I found myself lagging behind when running Android apps, and games like GT Racing 2 periodically submitted fast frame rates. The phone offers 16GB of storage and supports up to 128GB of SD microcards.
Call quality is great: I tested the phone on AT&T’s LTE network here in San Francisco, and could hear everyone I spoke to very clearly. The folks I spoke to also had no problems hearing me, even as I paced past construction sites and snarled city traffic. The phone’s speakers are suitably loud, and calls sound nice and clear. The audio quality is a bit too thin and tinny to be suitable for things like music though, so stick to headphone.
The phone has an estimated 17 hours talk time and just over 13 hours of video playback. My usage revolved around a myriad of web browsing, messaging and emails, random phone calls, and badge navigation with the BlackBerry map app. I easily made it through the weekend before looking for a point of sale.
The 8-megapixel camera on the back of the phone takes good pictures, getting enough light and a steady object.
Autofocus is not too sluggish and tries to make smart suggestions about new camera modes to try when taking photos.
Classic is a challenge to clarity for the faithful, a reminder that BlackBerry is still at the top of its performance. The company has also clearly embraced the latest lessons: smartphones live and die with apps you can run on them, so the limited availability of Android apps is certainly a boon for BlackBerry fans. And as we saw with BlackBerry Passport , a smartphone that gains performance through a comfortable user experience, is a bitter pill to swallow.
BlackBerry looks forward to taking a step back. And for many people, this will prove to be a good thing: you get a great physical keyboard, the BlackBerry experience you love, and the taste of Android for good measure. But the tight screen real estate, paltry Android support (if you don’t want to hunt the APK), and the awkward, square aspect ratio will make it a tough sell for those of us who haven’t joined the physical keys.