Since the arrival of John Chen about a year ago BlackBerry has gone more and more back to its roots. The BlackBerry Classic is one result out of this. The BlackBerry Classic was promised back in February of the year launched to make the Bold users finally convert to BB10. It would also bring back some of the most iconic BlackBerry hardware to date: the toolbelt and trackpad. This new device is a true ode to the extremely popular Bold lineup that preceded BlackBerry 10.
Hardware wise, the BlackBerry Classic is built solid. Upon holding it for the first time, you’ll immediately notice how heavy it is. Coming in at 178g, it is after the Passport the second heaviest device they have currently. The new BlackBerry Classic also features the same stainless steel frame all around its body that we have known from the very popular Bold series. Not only does it look good, if is also giving a great build quality.
The Classic is heaving almost the same height as the BlackBerry Passport, and is slightly taller than the Q5 and Q10 as you can see on the picture below. As well it is slightly wider which is difficult to see on the pictures, but you do not feel that.
What I really like is that BlackBerry has decided to keep the power button on top with the Classic, as well as the volume and play/pause rockers on the right side. The micro USB charging port is again located at the bottom, as it is on the Passport while a BlackBerry first is on the left side of the device. A nanoSIM tray, and an micoSD card tray, a first for a BlackBerry device. Usually these were either beyond a removable back or just behind a plastic flap like on the Q5. Each phone is coming with a Pin to open them, so there is no big drama on this.
The display front features a 3.46-inch 720×720 Gorilla Glass display coming in at 294 PPI. And of course, it also sports the main reason this device has its name for: the BlackBerry keyboard with the full toolbelt. Internally, the Classic has 2GB of RAM, and is powered by a Qualcomm MSM8960 dual core 1.5 GHz processor which is not much news. It comes as well with 16GB of internal storage which you can expand with another 128GB thanks to the micro sd tray. Hardware wise the Classic is no big technical difference to the Q10.
For the cameras you get an 8MP, backside illuminated, 5 element F2.2 lens shooter on the back while around the front you have a 2MP camera. If you fancy taking videos the rear camera can capture up to 1080p with 5x digital zoom while the front can capture up to 720p with 3x digital zoom…
On the further features side the BlackBerry Classic also includes Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, NFC to support mobile payments and file exchange plus it supports Wi-Fi Direct, Miracast, and DLNA as well as SlimPort for USB charging and HDMI out and of course, assisted, autonomous, and simultaneous GPS. Aside from the LTE support, you also get 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi in 2.4GHz / 5GHz and USB On The Go.
Typing on the BlackBerry Classic is truly a great experience. Most people may compare its keyboard to the Q10’s, but it feels a lot more like the Bold 9900’s instead. For me this is one of the best typing experience you can get right now on any phone.
Software wise the Classic comes pre-loaded with OS 10.3.1. There are quitee some differences between 10.3 and 10.3.1, but most of the bigger software enhancements have to do with how it works with the hardware, specifically the trackpad and accompanying keys.
For folks coming from the legacy devices it will be extremely easy to adjust to this device. I am still no big fan of the toolbelt as gestures work very well for me, but I do understand where BlackBerry is coming from to re-introduce them.
Another return of nostalgia is the return of Keyboard Shortcuts. Probably one of the most popular features ever on a QWERTY keyboard device. By enabling keyboard shortcuts, you essentially have almost whatever you require on a shortcut, contacts, apps, Calender and more, this is just genius.
As already on the BlackBerry Passport you get access to BlackBerry Blend and the Amazon App Store is as well preloaded giving you access to hundreds of thousands of apps. BlackBerry World is geared towards the productivity side (along with some amazing fun native apps), while Amazon’s Appstore is more focused on consumer-friendly apps. The likes of Candy Crush, Netflix, among others are available through the Appstore. Instagram however is not to be found there but as I am using snap anyways to access the play store this is no issue.
The Camera is OK, as usual not amazing but as long as you have enough light it takes decent pictures. You can now use the onscreen button the trackpad, the space bar, or even the volume down key to snap a picture. But If you are looking to be able to click anywhere on the screen to take a picture that is not working any longer on OS 10.3.1.
Overall there is not much new but a lot of improved on this phone. If however you want a power smartphone with all the latest specs and a cool innovative keyboard that runs on BlackBerry 10, go with a Passport instead. The BlackBerry Classic will probably not appeal for everyone, but for people who still rock the Bold’s this will be a great change into a new world.
Conclusion: I was not sure if this is a phone I could like or not as I did not see the use for the toolbelt any longer. But the way it feels and works is just great even without top of the range specs. In my opinion the BlackBerry Classic will be a great device for anybody buying it.
The device is going on Sale tonight at 6pm exclusively in the BlackBerry Store in the Dubai Mall.