- 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.”