- Eric M. Zeman , Phone Scoop
The Classic is a one-trick pony in a stable full of tricked out ponies.
- Nate Ralph , Cnet
If you're willing to trade screen size for a superior physical keyboard, the BlackBerry Classic is a fantastic productivity phone for old-school QWERTY junkies.
- All-day battery life
- QWERTY keyboard
- Plenty of storage
- MicroSD support
- Square screen
- Finicky Android support
- Small screen
- Weak camera
So the team at RIM is at it again. Their latest offering is a mashup of old school design and new school technology that they’ve labelled the BlackBerry Classic. Does it live up to the expectations of BlackBerry fans around the world or is it another attempt to gain traction in a market that has left it behind? Let’s dive into the reviews.
At first glance, the Classic is a definitely shout out to the glory days of BlackBerry. Designed much like the BlackBerry Bold, the phone features a 3.5-inch 720-by-720 pixel square touch screen and a 4-row QWERTY keyboard. While this is one of the largest screens on a BlackBerry to date, the resolution is a bit lower than the Passport. Despite the upgrade, CNet calls the display “uncomfortably small in the age of the big-screen phones.” However, after putting it through its paces, International Business Times declared it “sharp, accurate and well-lit.”
Powering the phone is a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 2GB of RAM. While definitely behind the flagship devices of other manufacturers, most reviews noted great performance in native apps and general use. Unfortunately, if you start trying to play games or really push the processor, reviews go downhill fast. International Business Times summed up opinions well, saying, “the experience often felt slow and clunky.” But then, in many ways, a BlackBerry isn’t designed for gaming and watching movies. It has always been, and continues to be, a productivity device at its core.
With 16GB of storage and microSD card support, there is plenty of room for apps, pictures, music or whatever else you want to load on your device. This will allow you to take full advantage of one of the Classic’s more interesting features. While the phone runs BlackBerry OS 10.3.1, it offers support for Android apps through the Amazon Appstore. Unfortunately, this feature is firmly both a negative and positive in most reviews due to the square screen and weak processor. Reviews all noted sluggish load times, slow performance and straight out incompatibility with a number of popular apps and games.
A major perk, and one of the biggest reasons that BlackBerry lovers are still holding on, is the physical QWERTY keyboard on the Classic. Combine that with the row of buttons and the touchpad, known as the Toolbelt, and reviews all applaud how easy it is to crank out emails, check texts or rip through spreadsheets. If you’ve used a previous BlackBerry, the keyboard has changed slightly, dropping the curved design for straight lines. However, reviews of the clicky buttons, spacing and responsiveness are great. The Verge says, “There simply isn’t a more satisfying typing experience to be had with two thumbs.”
If you need to snap a few pictures, the phone includes an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2-megapixel shooter up front. Reviews are hit and miss with the camera, with many sighting white balance issues and all noting a muted and fuzzy appearance in dim lighting.
All of this is kept running with a non-replaceable 2515mAh battery. While this might seem low compared to the latest flagship models, reviews indicate the Classic’s modest hardware helps to offset the capacity a bit. All reviews were able to pull a full day’s use on a single charge, with some noting a couple days. CrackBerry put it through it’s paces and said, CrackBerry the battery lasted “throughout the day but was ready for the charger by the end of the night.”
One final innovative feature is the BlackBerry Blend software. When used with another tablet or computer, it allows you to virtually operate your phone from another device. From file synching to text messages and email, you can log in to your phone and use it without having to leave your other device. For enterprise users, it also allows connection to business networks without the hassles of configuring VPNs and other security features.
Overall, reviews for the handset are mixed. While CNet calls it a “reminder that BlackBerry is still at the top of its productivity game,” International Business Times says, “It's highly unlikely that any iPhone or Android owners will switch to this phone, but for businesses looking to upgrade their fleet of ageing Bold 9900s, the Classic makes for a safe and familiar proposition.” Perhaps TechRadar summed it up best, stating, “The Classic is a success in that it's everything a BlackBerry fan could want - but it's debatable just how many fans are out there.”
Reviews (6.9/10 Avg. rating)
BlackBerry Classic is the final nail in BlackBerry's coffin
Old Meets Newish
True to its name, the BlackBerry Classic mimics the company’s phones of old, all while modernizing the hardware and software alike. To some extent, it succeeds: The phone itself feels great, and the operating system shows improvement, even if it’s still sort of stuck between eras. Most importantly, it does a great job of keeping you focused on productivity while employing BlackBerry’s signature security.
But the BlackBerry app ecosystem is a mess, with so many headlining apps missing between the two different marketplaces, and numerous apps not working as advert... Full review
BlackBerry diehards will love the modern touchscreen and keyboard
It’s these caveats, these many, many caveats, that make the BlackBerry Classic difficult to recommend. The company’s shortcut to app support is messy, and by going back to what worked before, it’s brought back all the old issues, from a square screen to the chunky build and space-hogging QWERTY keyboard. BlackBerry Antiquity might have been a better name for it.
BlackBerry diehards will love the modern touchscreen and keyboard – and even some actual apps, just like a proper smartphone. There are certainly worse handsets you could be issued at work. But there&... Full review
Everything old is new again
Meant for only the die-hard fans but as a phone is way behind its competitors
Solid build with some good software ideas
Not just a phone
This is not a condemnation of the phone. It’s the reality of the phone. If you want graphics and games and videos, then carry another phone or a tablet with you. This phone was not designed and built to attract user over from other platforms. This was built to give those currently on the platform a newer and better device. If you want apps and big screens and you want to play as much as you work, there are a ton of options out there. Go get one.
But, if you want to communicate efficiently and effectively and you don’t want to sift through an ocean of notifications to fig... Full review
Lots of good software touches
Saying that the BlackBerry Classic isn't for everyone is like pointing out that snow is really quite chilly and oxygen is a lovely thing to breathe. It's so obvious that it barely means anything at all. What the Classic is, though, is a mostly reliable device, so long as you're willing to put up with its many, many quirks. I toted the thing through the thrumming hellscape that is the CES show floor, and I was grateful for its comfortable keyboard and its constant flow of easily glanceable messages. But did I feel so much as a pang of regret or longing when it came time to put the Classic ba... Full review
Answer to all those who miss that “iconic” BlackBerry experience
Is this device for you? It may or may not be and that depends on what you look for in a smartphone. The powerhouse texting productive user would appreciate this more than a gamer or one who likes to watch movies on their phone all day. For the corporates and business users coming from legacy devices such as the Bold 9900 series, this is an awesome switch and you’ll definitely appreciate what BlackBerry has packed here, without sacrificing any of the core functionality you love and are already acquainted to. For me personally, I see myself switching between the Classic and Passport &nd... Full review
Will delight existing users and the return of its traditional keyboard is a welcome sight indeed
It would be unfair to compare the BlackBerry Classic with the likes of the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone because it’s not really trying to compete with them. The goal of the Classic is clear – to appeal to the BlackBerry power users that weren’t impressed by the likes of the Z10, Q10 and even the Passport. Crucially though, that probably doesn’t mean individual users so much as businesses looking for a high-performing, simple-to-use workplace tool.
If you’re a BlackBerry fan you’ll find a lot to like about the Classic. It may not be the perfect medi... Full review
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