Review: BlackBerry Classic

Review: BlackBerry Classic

My love affair with BlackBerry ended a few years ago, but I still know of several folks who would happily trade their souped-up smartphones for a trusty one with a reliable Qwerty keyboard.

"Reliable" is the key word here, which probably explains why the BlackBerry Passport did not quite take off. Though the Passport did have a keyboard, it is a variant of the older BlackBerry keyboards and worked in tandem with a touch interface.

The physical keys on the Passport were also slightly different in layout and design, which threw off some users.

One can look at the new BlackBerry Classic as a means to correct those mistakes. Its traditional layout and design harkens back to the design of the old - there are menu buttons on the top row of the keyboard just below the 3.5-inch screen.

This makes touch typing, which old-school BlackBerry users are familiar with, possible again.

The touch and gesture controls, which are part of the BlackBerry 10 operating system, are still around, and you will still need to use some of them for navigation.

While the return to the old is appreciated, BlackBerry seems to have taken it a few steps too far. Much of the hardware, including the processor, camera and screen resolution, are inferior to the Passport's, so users cannot get the best classic features with new parts.

Therefore, I can only see the Classic as being a back-up device for those longing for an e-mail workhorse.

BlackBerry's hub - which controls all incoming e-mail, SMS and social network notifications - is still a boon to those who hate opening different apps when replying to messages. It is also the closest that any company has ever come to making a universal app that embraces all other messaging platforms.

Alas, the small screen is no place to watch videos or play games. Though BlackBerry introduced the Amazon Appstore to its devices and brought Android apps to the platform, the BlackBerry 10 operating system is clearly not meant for extensive non-productivity related uses.

The Amazon Appstore is not as efficient as Google's Play Store, and opening up multiple apps slows down the device.

Once you eliminate those uses though, battery consumption on the small screen will make this a reliable messaging tool.

Those looking for a good messaging and e-mail device, with an efficient Qwerty keyboard, should consider the Classic.

TECH SPECS

Price: $598

Image sensor: 12.1 megapixels

Processor: 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8960 dual-core

Screen: 3.5-inch LCD, 720 x 720 pixels

Operating system: BlackBerry 10.3.1

Camera: (Rear) 8 MP with 1,080p HD video recording, (Front) 2MP

Memory: 16GB, 2GB RAM (expandable microSD slot up to 128GB)

Battery: Non-removable 2,515mAh

RATING

Features 3/5

Design 3/5

Performance 3/5

Battery life 3/5

Overall 3/5


This article was first published on April 1, 2015.
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