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BlackBerry Classic review: A killer smartphone for keyboard lovers

Al Sacco | Dec. 19, 2014
The BlackBerry Classic is the best smartphone the company has ever released, according to CIO.com's Al Sacco. However, it's not going to lure away many iPhone or Android users, or significantly increase BlackBerry's market share. And that's just fine with BlackBerry. Here's why.

I asked BlackBerry about this, and was told that my device is a pre-release model, and that the metal tab "is not intended to be easily removable by the end user, although it is possible to remove if sufficient force is applied." My tab literally fell out when I removed the memory card tray. If the devices that ship to customers don't have the same problem, this will be a non-issue. If not, Classic users may just have to remove their tabs, which defeats the purpose of including them.

The BlackBerry Classic's keyboard is supposed to light up in dim or dark environments. However, my keys don't light up, and that makes it tough to type in the dark, which obviously isn't ideal. (A ring around the Bold 9900's trackpad also lit up in the dark, but the Classic's does not, which is unfortunate -- that was a useful feature.) BlackBerry says the Classic keys should light up, and apparently this is another issue with my preproduction unit.

I don't have anything bad to say about the BlackBerry 10 OS, except for the fact that you can have only eight apps open at one time. This limitation greatly diminishes the value of BlackBerry 10's multitasking feature. I use more than eight apps at a time on my other devices, and it's frustrating to have to scroll through screens and open folders every time I want to launch a frequently used app.

Finally, I detailed three separate BlackBerry Classic hardware issues in this review. BlackBerry claims they will be resolved by the time the device ships to customers. Finding that many problems with a device that's supposed to ship very soon is uncommon in my experience, and it might not bode well for the first batch of Classics.

BlackBerry Classic Review: Conclusion
The BlackBerry Classic is designed to look, feel and function like one of the most popular BlackBerry devices ever made, and it achieves all three of these goals. The Classic is great-looking and well-built. The keyboard can't be beat. It's a great size for a "candy bar" style phone. It does notifications and alerts like no other mobile device. A new set of keyboard shortcuts adds value and brings back something BlackBerry lost in its first set of BlackBerry 10 devices. The Classic gets great battery life, and the company's sharp focus on security shines thanks to an advanced set of valuable privacy and security features.

Unfortunately, the Classic reminds me of early "bricklike" BlackBerrys because of its weight. The BlackBerry "app gap" may be smaller than it once was, but it still exists, and Android apps just don't run as well as they do on Android phones. The Classic is available only with 16GB of storage, and its battery is fixed so it can't be removed or replaced. The Classic's low-resolution display is weak. Its camera also leaves something to be desired in certain environments.

 

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