BlackBerry Classic hands-on


BlackBerry smartphones popularized several things, like those old-school track wheels and track balls on BlackBerries past, which made the company’s devices so iconic. Recently, they’ve tried to sell us on a brand new keyboard with the BlackBerry Passport, but even with all the new tech behind it, we weren’t necessarily sold by it. To make matters worse, we found it tedious to use at times. Well, they’ve certainly listened to the complaints, as they’ve gone back to a familiar layout and style with the BlackBerry Classic. As its name so happens to imply, this brand new smartphone harkens back to some of the company’s ground-breaking devices – like the BlackBerry Bold 9900, which was arguably the epitome of a perfect QWERTY smartphone.

Design


Flaunting that classic design, one that’s recognizably BlackBerry from afar, the Classic’s design really reminds us of the BlackBerry Bold 9900 from a few years back – though, it’s a step behind that phone in terms of premium craftsmanship. Nevertheless, its design language is a stark contrast from the Passport. Instead of having an industrial design of sorts, the Classic instead favors a contemporary look – one that has a curvier edge to it.

What’s most apparent here, though, is BlackBerry’s decision to outfit it with an iconic keyboard. And with that, we’re ecstatic to find the classic BlackBerry Bold keyboard back in the mix with this phone. No longer are we struggling to type on a BlackBerry, seeing that the layout and feel of the QWERTY is something we’re familiar with. From its sculpted keys, to the stainless steel bands separating the rows, and also the feedback, this keyboard is so enjoyable to use with great speed and accuracy.

Overall, we’ll certainly agree that the keyboard is by far the standout here. However, considering that it’s sporting a classic design, we really wonder why the company in the first place invested so much research, time, and development in some of the BlackBerry smartphones we’ve seen in the last couple of years – more so when they decided to go back to a design like this.

Display


On deck with the BlackBerry Classic is a 3.5-inch 720 x 720 display, which produces a pixel density count of 294 ppi. Indeed, it’s not the same high-resolution screen we see in the Passport, but it’s still sharp and detailed enough for us to accept – more so when it’s sporting a smaller sized screen. In standard fashion, it’s touch enabled to make good use of the various gestures with BlackBerry 10. For the most part, it’s a pleasant looking screen with its wide viewing angles, potent brightness, and neutral color reproduction. At the end of the day, however, we really wish it pushed the boundaries further, seeing that its resolution is only marginally better than the 2011 BlackBerry Bold 9900.

Interface


If you’re versed in what the BlackBerry Passport offered with its software experience, then you’ll fit right at home with the BlackBerry Classic. From the platform’s tried and true BlackBerry Hub, to newer features like BlackBerry Assistant, the Classic is outfitted with all of the essentials to make it a productivity beast. Additionally, BlackBerry has brought back some staple controls with the Classic for navigation – like the trackpad and the set of physical buttons below the display (send, end, back, and menus keys). Therefore, not only can we rely on BlackBerry 10.3.1’s handful of touch navigation controls, but we can also go back to the classic navigation with the trackpad.

In all fairness, the nostalgia that comes along with the navigational controls with the trackpad is nice, but at the end of the day, we can’t escape the undeniable reality that the experience is targeting those hardcore BlackBerry users. Trying to expand its reach, BlackBerry 10.3.1 offers users access to BlackBerry World for all of the platform’s latest apps, which are optimized to make great use of the platform’s strengths – and the Amazon Appstore as well for Android apps.

Processor and Memory


Certainly, it’s far from being the most formidable thing, but the handset’s dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 processor, coupled with 2GB of RAM and the Adreno 225 GPU, is still an effective enough piece of silicon to power the phone through all sorts of operations. Navigating through BlackBerry 10 is accompanied with silky results, but we’re curious to see how it contends with more processor intensive tasks – such as gaming.

Armed with 16GB of internal storage, it has enough memory to accommodate various content – plus, it can be supplemented by its microSD card slot.

Camera


By now, it’s evident that the BlackBerry Classic isn’t meant to be the company’s most premium offering – made obvious by the 8-megapixel sensor in the back of the phone. Actually, it’s a step down from the Passport’s beefier 13-megapixel snapper, but as we all know, numbers don’t have any bearing to a camera’s overall quality. It's strapped along with a 5-element f/2.2 aperture lens, as well as an LED flash. Naturally, we’re curious to see how it fares with real-world usage. However, from a specs sheet point, it’s not pushing any new ground with its 1080p recording.

Expectations


BlackBerry is introducing a brand new phone here with the Classic. Yes, it’s running the latest BlackBerry 10.3.1 experience and has some upgraded specs, but the physical design of the phone isn’t necessarily new. Rather, it’s remarkably similar to the 2011-made BlackBerry Bold 9900, which is a strange revelation to tell you the truth. On one hand, it’s rewarding to once again type away with ease on what’s arguable the best physical keyboard around, but it begs the question about why BlackBerry in the first place decided to experiment differently with the Passport’s keyboard.

Normally, we expect smartphones to receive evolutionary designs to make them refreshing from previous devices. With this, however, BlackBerry opts to go back to a style we’ve seen before, instead of going in a different, more evolutionary direction. To be fair, we can see that new direction with the BlackBerry Passport, as it sports an industrial design for the times – as opposed to the Classic’s contemporary look. Attached with a price point of $450 outright here in the US ($500 in Canada), the BlackBerry Classic is no doubt a costly thing to pick up for a phone with a 2011 design, but for those hardcore Bold lovers out there, it’s a price they’ll happily fork over. For everyone else, it’s going to be a hard sell.

Ultimately, the question that remains is if this phone is regarded as a step forward, or a rewind to yesterday?

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Related phones

Classic
  • Display 3.5" 720 x 720 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, Dual-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2515 mAh(11.7h 3G talk time)

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52 Comments

1. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

Can anybody explain to me how this phone from 2011 is worth $100 more than the Nexus 5???...

2. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

I'd rather get this :p For work at least.

6. Mxyzptlk unregistered

*grabs popcorn*

8. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

No need for that :)

10. EC112987

Posts: 1215; Member since: Nov 10, 2014

Lmao +1

17. omar300

Posts: 210; Member since: Jun 24, 2012

LOL, i wish blackberry came out with this instead of 9900 Bold. even for that era this would be behind, but atleast it would slightly give chance to blackberry to survive.

3. Lt.Green

Posts: 397; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

It carries the BB name. That's why.

4. TimCook

Posts: 450; Member since: Oct 23, 2014

Unfortunately Blackberry will never learn..

13. SouthernYankee

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 17, 2014

This from the man who can't supply enough phones for his customers.

14. EC112987

Posts: 1215; Member since: Nov 10, 2014

Lol one could say the same about apple not releasing a a phone with a larger screen until 2014

15. meanestgenius

Posts: 22107; Member since: May 28, 2014

One could say the same about Apple releasing handsets with crappy build quality and buggy software year after year.

32. SaintHelena

Posts: 397; Member since: Nov 05, 2014

meanestgenius, unfortunately what you just troll would not make bb sales more phone.

41. meanestgenius

Posts: 22107; Member since: May 28, 2014

You're really desperate for my attention, I see.

5. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2386; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

While the internals could have been slightly better (Snapdragon 600), I think this is going to sell to it's intended audience very well. I think the point we have to keep in mind is that this isn't a consumer product and so it's hard to judge it according to consumer standards. And it's important to note that they gave their customers exactly what they wanted. Blackberry customers wanted an update to the Bold 9900. I guess you could say this is similar to Apple releasing the S version of their phones. Consider this a Bold 9900S. I look forward to see what they have in store for MWC as we are expected to see a new update to the Passport as well as a "new concept device".

7. nwright94

Posts: 211; Member since: Oct 14, 2014

Snapdragon s4? Why not the 400 or 600? The s4 is so old now.

34. SaintHelena

Posts: 397; Member since: Nov 05, 2014

1. because bb CAN'T afford to pay for brand new CPU. They just use the old one to cut cost, and bring more profit. 2. because it's the old design. ALL of the design team already FIRED by Jacky Chen. and this is a design that were in their computer that have not been used.

9. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Its a bold touch rehash. To the normal consumer, they will pass it overwithout even thinking about it. To someone who absolutely hates touchscreen keyboards, it has a chance. But the biggest market for it by far will be enterprise, like always. Those old execs will love it. lol

35. SaintHelena

Posts: 397; Member since: Nov 05, 2014

but most of those execs already moves on to iphone or galaxy

11. Spedez

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

Talking about a blast from the past...

12. SouthernYankee

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 17, 2014

.....Navigating through BlackBerry 10 is accompanied with silky results, but we’re curious to see how it contends with more processor intensive tasks – such as gaming..... As is typical for a review of this sort, it all comes down to specs again. Specs are not the end all to be all. This phone wasn't made for gaming! If you want to play games and watch videos, go buy a Samsung.

36. SaintHelena

Posts: 397; Member since: Nov 05, 2014

they did, we did, and that's why bb collapse.

16. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

S4 Pro? That's what drives the Nexus4 an 7. On this Berry with lower resolution, it'll scream. That is competent soc, with a smooth os on top, It'll be the bees knees for a BB guy. Kudos

37. SaintHelena

Posts: 397; Member since: Nov 05, 2014

the question here is why the old S4 pro, why not the brand new 64 bit snapdragon 615 which is on the same performance level as S4 pro, but use less energy (more efficient)

51. g2a5b0e unregistered

You just should showed how little you know about tech & made yourself sound really dumb in the process. The 615 leaps & bounds ahead of the S4 Pro in terms of performance. It's actually more comparable to the 800. It even has a more capable GPU than the 800 & 801.

52. SaintHelena

Posts: 397; Member since: Nov 05, 2014

THAT'S my point.... Why BB use THE OLD s4 pro. Why don't they use the 64 bit 615. I think they already fired too much their engineering team, and can only recycle their board design.

18. meanestgenius

Posts: 22107; Member since: May 28, 2014

This Classic isn't made for the consumer market, so those passing judgment on it based on that are making an error. This handset is designed with enterprise users in mind, and it's focused on the enterprise market. Enterprise users need a productive handset that gets things done and can last the day on a single charge, not a handset that's geared towards gaming like crazy kitchen and candy crush that needs to be charged several times a day.

22. Donbenie

Posts: 260; Member since: Aug 04, 2013

That price is a killer..

23. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Just imagine what devices could make a comeback if this sells better than expectations: The original Droid? A BB "Torch" slider? All those fun HTC sliders? Oh, the flood gate of fun favorites updated with todays specs could be endless....

24. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3137; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

HP Pre3 Dell Venue Pro

26. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Would LOVE an updated Dell Venue Pro.

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