If you are interested in using the BlackBerry Classic, chances are that you are a lover of BlackBerry’s legacy hardware keyboard. And if the keyboard is your only concern, I can tell you to go buy one right away. The Classic’s keyboard is true blue. Clickety. Clicky. Good feel. Well crafted. Works well. I am typing this review with it.
Beyond the very productive keyboard, the Classic also has legacy BlackBerry’s trackpad and navigation keys. This means you can initiate and answer calls using the standard Dial and Call Answer buttons respectively. There’s no more need to swipe to answer or reject a call.
The BlackBerry Menu button is here too – and works according to its name. It pops up the menu wherever you are. The trackpad is good for scrolling vertically and horizontally, as well as for selecting items, including links in webpages. It is quite convenient to use.
Build-wise, the Classic is a very classy device, both in terms of look and feel. It is made of premium materials, including an aluminum frame around the sides. The back is a textured plastic that makes for good grip in the hand. The Classic is handy – far less bulkier than the Passport.
Having a hardware keyboard means that the display is small by modern smartphone standard, but then this is a BlackBerry. The 3.5-inch touchscreen display is however clear and crisp. Being touchscreen means that you can interact with it the same way you would any other BB10 device – swiping up, down, left and right. The Classic’s display is a square too, just like the Passport’s. It is just smaller and has a smaller resolution (720×720 pixels).
BlackBerry excels at messaging – and the Classic is no exception. From SMS, to email, to BBM, to WhatsApp and other messaging services, the BlackBerry Hub lets you manage all of them conveniently from one place. Of course, the best BBM experience on any platform is found right here on a BlackBerry.
What of apps? There are plenty of apps available in BlackBerry World, and millions more from Amazon App Store. You can even download and install other Android apps outside of the Amazon Store. BlackBerry 10.3 supports direct installation of Android apps. You do not need any tricks. Just download and install. Most Android apps work without issues. A few don’t install at all or misbehave after installation. In all, BlackBerry 10 users have little to worry about in terms of apps.
Media wise, the Classic has everything covered. It plays a wide range of video formats. The music player is very good (and has FM Radio built into the app). And surprisingly, the Classic’s mono loudspeaker is so good that three of us here at Mobility Arena are still having an argument over whether it produces better audio output than the Passport’s stereo speakers or not.
The 8 megapixel camera is really good. It produces resolutions that are very close to what the Passport’s 13 megapixel camera produces. However, its colour reproduction is more accurate. The shots below are from the Passport (top) and the Classic (bottom):
In reality, that Nescafe mug in the foreground does not have the orange tint seen in the Passport’s shot. The Classic’s shot also appears to be brighter. Perhaps BlackBerry has worked on their camera algorithms since the Passport was released. Or maybe not. You see, the Classic’s camera struggles in indoor and low-Iight environments.
Battery, Performance & Storage
Battery life of the Classic is quite good and has left me with no headaches. It does not rank among the best, but it certainly is good enough for me not to worry about carrying a power bank around when out and about for the day. And performance is very good too. There are no spinning wheels or waits for tasks to complete. If it means anything to you, the Classic is powered by a Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait processor, Adreno 225 graphic processing unit, and 2Gb of RAM. Internal storage is 16GB, and there is expandable storage. My 128GB microSD card works fine with it.
The BB10 web browser is really good – easily standing among the best out there in terms of ease of use and functionality. BB10 offers Wifi Hotspot, Battery Saving Mode, and Advanced Interactions which use built-in sensors to detect user actions and perform simple tasks. For example, when I pick up the mobile from a flat surface, it wakes up. If I place it face down on a flat surface, it goes into sleep mode and helps extend my battery life.
In addition, having a hardware keyboard means that the Classic also offers keyboard shortcuts so you can set specific buttons to launch specific apps when held. Finally, there is BlackBerry Assistant, an intelligent personal assistant that helps you get things done using just your voice.
BlackBerry 10 OS is really robust and reliable. However, I have refused to update the Classic to the latest version 10.3.1.1779 which seems plagued with bugs that have left myself (on the Passport) and other BB10 users with complaints. If you get the Classic, thou shalt not update to 10.3.1.1779.
The Classic is a superb smartphone that BlackBerry lovers will love. It is the perfect marriage between the very modern BB10 software and the legacy Blackberry form factor. If you need a modern premium smartphone that is easy to type on and convenient to carry around, this is as good as any. It is currently priced between N75,000 and N90,000.
Now, I am here struggling between whether to switch my nano-SIM back to the Passport or to keep it in the Classic. Considering that I rate the Passport as one of the best smartphones in the world, that is saying something.