Despite losing the pinnacle position it once had, Canadian phone company Blackberry still retains hundreds and thousands of loyalists around. To satisfy such ardent fans, it has revisited its roots and become successful once again, after a long period. Though the Blackberry Q5 and Q10 retain the old school physical keyboard, they haven't achieved the expected success. But last year, they tasted decent success after launching the Passport smartphone for several reasons.
The gesture features, looks, feel and build quality are impressive enough to show 'Come Back Home' signal to former BlackBerry users. And probably the success model of Passport made the Canadian smartphone giant rethink to get back to the old school and make products it is known and respected for.
The BlackBerry Classic is a solidly-built device with precise selection of plastic, metal and glass. Keeping the same old-school design of BlackBerry Bold, the Classic has modified itself in several aspects. The non-removable back cover now has a textured finish. It's rubbery, yet texture pattern panel gives a firm grip while holding the phone in hand.
Though the device feels heavy in comparison with its modern day competitors, we definitely appreciate the tank-like built quality Classic has. The steel frame on the bezel, physical keyboard, display glass have been aptly placed.
The Classic features the power/ sleep button on the top, along with the 3.5mm audio in/out port. The volume rocker buttons are on the right, while the nano SIM card slot and micro SD card slot sit on the left. The two speaker mesh has been placed at the bottom edge.
The BlackBerry Classic features a 3.5-inch square screen with 720x720 pixels resolution. To protect the screen from scratches and smudges, Classic features a Gorilla Glass 3 protection on top of the display. The display produces ample brightness and colours, yet a balanced saturation control, making the display good enough for all day use. We appreciate Blackberry for featuring the white balance tweaking option in the control menu, which most of the phones lack. The display is readable enough under direct sunlight and able to prompt crisp texts and colourful images. Despite the small size, the Blackberry Classic is good enough for reading and responding to mails and tweets. However, the square-shaped display has an issue with the aspect ratios of regular video files. While playing any 4:3 or 16:9 video file, a black band appears on the top and the bottom, making the display look smaller.
After big touchscreen phones appeared in the market, several consumers are happy with the onscreen touch keyboard. Keyboard apps like flesky and shiwtkey have turned the task look more easily, but there are several consumers who still believe typing on a QWERTY keyboard is more connected to computing and a bliss. The acceptance of Blackberry passport has proved that as well. The Classic doesn't feature the complex gesture enabled keyboard of its high-end sibling, rather took their own legendary old-school route.
When I took the Classic out of box I felt a tad nostalgic. Seeing the four row keys, trackpad and menu keys, I was reminded of my older Bold 9900. Well, coming straight to the experience, the Classic keyboard features the same curvy keys, making the experience of typing heavenly. I am sure all physical keypad lovers will feel the same.
Unlike Blackberry Passport, Classic doesn't feature any powerhouse specifications inside. Boasting of a 1.5GHz dual Core Snapdragon S4 Plus SoC, the Classic packs 2GB worth RAM and 16GB of ROM memory. The configuration might sound very less to you but in reality the device performs like a breeze. We opened multiple apps together along with multiple tabs on the browser and never felt any stuttering experience.
The latest edition of BB10 includes numerous gestures and features to the phone along with support for Android apps. The pre-installed Amazon app market offers numerous android apps available for use but the only problem with Amazon app store is its focus mostly on non- productivity apps. The Blackberry app store is still niche in volumes, but mostly features sensible and usable apps.
Another thing to mention is Blackberry Hub, the awesome notification system which accumulates all the messages and notifications together to make an easy way to respond to mails, BBM/Whatsapp chats and text messages from the same window. The Hub also brings every small notification most manufacturers ignore. For example, when your WiFi data penetration is low or network speed is not that great.
Battery & Camera
Powered by a 2515 mAh battery, the Blackberry Classic easily runs for more than a day. Blackberry features a battery saving mode that actually adds few more hours to it. But since the Classic features a non removable battery, you can't hot swap the battery if needed.
The Classic features an 8MP rear camera and a 2MP front camera. Both the cameras are good in use mostly in ambient lighting conditions. But the default 1:1 aspect ratios of clicked images are not impressive to display on bigger screen. Thanks to Blackberry for featuring an option to switch it to 16:9 and 4:3.
The auto focus is fast in use and so are the images in proper lighting conditions. But in challenging light, both the cameras click average images with less clarity and more noise.
Blackberry Classic focuses on a niche genre of consumers who love a smartphone more for enterprise use and less of multimedia. The Classic wins hands down when it comes to their needs and preferences. The keyboard is awesome, Hub is great and so is the battery life. The performance of the device is also good if you don't consider playing high graphic games on it. The mediocre camera is a tad let down, but again the battery life rocks. Summing up all the features based on various parameters, we would suggest you to go for it if you're still in love with Blackberry's old-school elegance, combined a dash of productivity.