BLACKBERRY CLASSIC | The key is in the keyboard

BlackBerry Classic

Locally released in January, I finally got hold of a BlackBerry Classic my own way after three months of waiting for nothing. Well, here’s my take on this model.

BlackBerry, as most of us already know, is not in a good position right now. What used to be a leading brand when it comes to smartphones, BlackBerry is hanging on for dear life; no thanks to iPhone and Android. If not for its sheer will to survive, BlackBerry could have died along with Nokia.

Now, if you are a BlackBerry user like me, clicking those QWERTY keys for almost a decade now, no other smartphone can surpass BlackBerry’s performance when it comes to texting and writing emails. It’s damn so easy to do it on a BlackBerry. The heck, I even write my news stories on it. Ask any BlackBerry user and they’ll swear: the key is in the keyboard. To hell with touchscreen or any other copycat phone with a similar keyboard for that matter.

But as reality sets in, the touchscreen of course is the norm for current smartphones. Should we thank Apple for that? I don’t think so.

So, here’s the Classic with an SRP of P20,990 (it could be lower by now); combining the fashionable touchscreen element with the ever-reliable BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard, along with the classic trackpad. Hence, the name Classic.

Mind you, this is not BlackBerry’s first dip into the touchscreen realm. They’ve been doing it for years and failed miserably. Forget the Storm. Forget the Torch. Forget the Curve 9380. Forget the Z10, even. What we have here is the Classic. A perfect mixture of a QWERTY keyboard, trackpad and a touchscreen, BlackBerry style.

The Classic took its cue from what could probably be the last best BlackBerry model, the Bold 9900, then giving it the simple yet effective design of the Q-series — not to mention the power of BlackBerry OS10 — the Classic is just that: a true blue BlackBerry Classic. The best in the BlackBerry stable. This will be the device the Canadian-based smartphone maker will be remembered by — that is if there are any takers.

Nonetheless, the Classic still has that perfect tactile keyboard, the touch-sensitive trackpad, and a large 3.5-inch touchscreen, which in this model is surprisingly easy to use. The smartphone is sexy yet has that robust feel. In fact, because of its rather larger size, the phone is a bit heavy compared to previous BlackBerry models or any other smartphone available today. Its OS seems to be bug-free as it runs faster, smoother, and glitch-free most of the time. Battery life is longer too. This device could last 2 to 3 days without charging. Unfortunately, the battery is fixed and non-removable. At least, no more extra batteries to carry around. If that’s any consolation.

Now here’s where BlackBerry often falls behind: Apps, apps and no apps. It’s an app-hungry world out there. However, there are too few available and less useable even. It’s a same old, same old problem. Despite the promise of more apps when BB OS10 came out, for the app consuming public there is really nothing much to download from BlackBerry World. But wait…OS10 can now run Android Apps via the Amazon Appstore. Technically you could. And you’ll need version 10.2.1 on your Classic. But installing and running those Android apps flawlessly on OS10 is another story.

That said, BlackBerry seems to be no longer for everyone. But then again, they never were. To regain traction, BlackBerry emphasized that they’ll refocus on their core competence, which they’ve already mastered years ago: catering to the enterprise market, delivering highly-secured data communication. Though that too is no longer a monopoly of BlackBerry. Yes, it’s hard to talk about a particular BlackBerry model without talking about the company itself.

I was in Jakarta a couple of weeks ago, where BlackBerry often brag Indonesia as a country of BlackBerry users. The last bastion of any BlackBerry stronghold. Yet, despite the claim, I never saw anyone using a BlackBerry of any model. When the Classic was launched in the Philippines, the event room was filled with tech journalists and bloggers, and yet, except for the BlackBerry executives of course, I was the only one carrying a BlackBerry. Loyally, if I may say.

And that’s what BlackBerry is hoping for the Classic right now: loyal BlackBerry users.

BlackBerry Classic

BlackBerry Classic specs:

Processor – Dual-core 1.5 Ghz Qualcomm 8960
OS – BlackBerry 10 OS 10.3.1; gesture based UI
Display – 3.5″ LCD 24 bit color; 720 x 720 resolution with 1:1 aspect ratio
Screen – Capacitive multi-touch display, navigation keys
Keyboard – 35 key backlit physical QWERTY keyboard
Memory – 2 GB DDR2 RaM; 16 GB eMMC; hot-swappable MicroSD slot (up to 128 GB)
Camera – 8 MP auto-focus; 5X digital zoom; flash; 1080p HD video recording; 2 MP fixed-focus front facing camera; image & video stabilization; 3x digital zoom; 720p HD video recording
Connectivity – USB 2.0
Bluetooth – v4.0 and EDR
Wi-Fi – 802.11 a/b/g/n; 4G mobile hotspot
Network – LTE, HSPA+, Quad band GSM
Sensors – Accelerometer, magnetometer, gyroscope, proximity, hall sensor, ambient light sensor
GPS – Assisted, autonomous and simultaneous GPS
Size – 131mm x 72.4mm x 10.2mm
Batter – Non-removable Li-Ion 2515 mAh battery; Talk time: up to 11.7 hours (GSM), 17.2 hours (UMTS); Stand by time: up to 14.5 days (GSM), 15.2 days (UMTS); Audio playback: up to 70 hours; Video playback: 13.7 hours.
SRP – P20,990

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