BlackBerry Classic breaks cover

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BlackBerry, the beleaguered Canadian smartphone maker that was on the brink of bankruptcy, has launched a new device which harks back to the company’s much-loved devices with a more traditional handset called the BlackBerry Classic.

But the Classic not only looks like the BlackBerry devices that were wildly popular before the iPhone and Android ate its lunch, it also features the touch-sensitive trackpad – a feature that BlackBerry fans have sorely missed.

The way I see it, if you’re coming from a legacy BlackBerry smartphone you’re going to be in for a treat. You’re getting incredibly capable hardware, you’re getting a pretty spiffy new camera, you’re getting the latest and greatest operating system from BlackBerry and you’re getting it all in a beautiful new, yet familiar, package and that’s a pretty compelling reason to finally get rid of the old BlackBerry you have kicking around and get yourself upgraded! – CrackBerry

The touch-sensitive trackpad has been sorely missed, last found on the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9790. BlackBerry says it’s the most requested feature from its loyal customers. That’s the reason it was brought back on the latest device, a move which might even find the company a few new fans.

The last device launched by BlackBerry was the rather weird (and square) Passport, which didn’t exactly sell like hot cakes, but at least it was an attempt at something original. The BlackBerry Classic can also run Android apps and has some great messaging capabilities – something which the company’s smartphones were always well known for.

The lowdown on the BlackBerry Classic

BlackBerry Classic PreOrder

On the BlackBerry store in the US and UK, you can already pre-order for $449 and £349 respectively, a rather attractive price compared to the current crop of smartphones which often cost twice that for high-end models. The new phone was officially launched on December 17th, so it should already be possible to place an order and receive one in time for Christmas if you happen to live in the US or UK.

It’s also available on Amazon in the US, but of course there’s not much information as to whether it will ever be launched in Thailand. Apparently, BlackBerry has a bit of a stronghold in Indonesia, so we might see the Classic released there before Thailand.

BlackBerry Classic Specs

Here are the official tech specs for the Classic:

  • Dimensions: 131 x 72.5 x 10.2mm
  • Weight: 178g
  • Screen: 3.46-inch LTPS TFT display
  • Resolution: 720 x 720 pixel resolution at 294 pixels per inch
  • Keyboard: 35-key backlit physical keyboard and optical trackpad
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960 at 1.5 GHz
  • Memory: 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage with microSD support up to 128 GB
  • Rear camera: 8MP capable of 1080p video
  • Front camera: 2MP capable of 720p video
  • Connectivity: nanoSIM slot, NFC, microUSB with SlimPort, 3G (4G unknown at this time)
  • Battery: 2515 mAh

The specifications admittedly don’t sound amazing, but hopefully the end result will be better than the sum of its parts.

BlackBerry Classic – Critical Reception

Here are a few snippets of comments from those who have actually had a hand-on play with the new Classic:

“There’s a huge amount to like in the BlackBerry Classic. It will make you more productive. It feels serious. And it doesn’t look too bad either. But in part you’re more productive because there are fewer distractions, and therein is the root of the problem. While this may be a tool for getting things done it is not really a tool of the modern world. As one analyst put it, this is ‘nostalgia as strategy’. All the old features, of security, of the ability to type quickly and of good styling have now been adopted by every major manufacturer. If you have to have a BlackBerry, the Classic is brilliant. If you don’t, it’s an irrelevance.” – Telegraph newspaper, UK

And from CNET:

The Classic is a clarion call to the faithful, a reminder that BlackBerry is still at the top of its productivity game. The company has also clearly taken recent lessons to heart: smartphones live and die by the apps you can run on them, so the admittedly limited presence of Android apps is a boon for BlackBerry fans. And as we saw with the BlackBerry Passport, a smartphone that champions productivity at the expense of a comfortable user experience is a bitter pill to swallow – CNET

It’s certainly nice to see a new device from BlackBerry. Let’s hope the Classic finds a few new fans and helps the company return to profitability (and popularity) as it’s great to have more competition in the smartphone space.

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