Remember the days when physical keyboard-toting phones ruled the earth? BlackBerry certainly does.
In keeping with its name, the BlackBerry Classic appears to have gone back to the days of auld, resurrecting a familiar design and familiar features in what looks like a bid to appease past customers.
Is this blast from the past point to a bright new future for BlackBerry or is the Classic a sign of a phone-maker that has run out of fresh ideas? Read on to find out more.
First impressions and design
If you think you've seen the phone's design before, then you're spot on. BlackBerry admits it used the Bold 9900 as its template.
The result is a handset with a very similar look, shape and overall design in a rather weighty phone that's well-built and will surely be sturdy enough for the road warriors of the business world.
But with a 3.5-inch HD display, it has 60 per cent more screen space than the one found on the 9900.
And the Classic comes with a suite of hardware features omitted from the previous BlackBerry 10 OS based QWERTY phones too. These were clearly missed, judging by their reintroduction in the Classic.
But more on that later ....
Although its look is similar to the old BlackBerrys that were the outfit’s bread and butter, the Classic is powered by the new BlackBerry 10 OS.
That means you get a single inbox that collates all messages, including emails, Facebook and Twitter posts, texts and beyond. And you can respond to all these, within the hub and with no need to enter a separate app.
Speaking of apps, BlackBerry World isn't the best stocked store out there.
However, the Classic does have the ability to run Android apps. And with the new addition of one-touch access to Amazon's app store, you've got an impressive library of titles on tap.
The inclusion of BlackBerry blend is a nice touch. This allows non-BlackBerry tablets or laptops to gain access to all the features of the phone through a secure, remote client.
The upshot is that nearly everything you can do on the phone can be done on a bigger screen, if required.
In fact, if you leave your phone at home, you can still do almost everything you may need to if it was in front of you.
Elsewhere, you'll find a rather nippy browser, noted to be one of the top web surfers around by HTML5TEST.com.
All of which makes this a good, decent, OS for a phone, even though sales figures of the new BlackBerrys do not quite match BlackBerry of old.
The reason the 'Classic' moniker was chosen isn't just down to the phone's traditional look. It's also down to what's beneath its 720p display.
Here you'll find another fixture from BlackBerrys of yore in the form of the optical track pad.
Used in a similar way to a mouse, it offers much greater accuracy when it comes to OS navigation and text selection and when navigating websites.
Under the hood is a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm CPU.
While this doesn't put it in the realms of superfast high-end phones, it's fine for this handset which whips through menus and loads and runs apps quickly.
The trackpad is very responsive. It's also great to use and something that absent and much-missed from the last two keyboard-equipped BlackBerrys.
Whizzing around the Classic is a delight. And although the screen is still fully touch responsive, we used the 'tool belt' much more than the display.
It just felt more natural and very familiar to use. It was like catching up with an old friend and we were best buds again within moments.
We also found it amazing the difference that a dedicated back button makes to the whole user experience; no wonder it’s a staple feature of Android.
The keyboard makes for fast and accurate typing, with physical keys resulting in a much more precise method of text entry.
These are slightly sunken, with a raised lip in the top right corner, stopping your thumbs from straying across to the next letter.
The keyboard is curved towards the right on the left-hand keys and on the left on the right-hand keys.
This set-up works well. And as a testament to its efficacy in action, this entire review was written on the BlackBerry Classic, with no mistakes.
BlackBerry customers old and new will find something familiar, in this solidly build, QWERTY keyboard phone.
However, a dedicated keyboard isn't for everyone.
The Classic's appeal is most likely primarily to businessmen, for whom email is number-one priority and anything else is a bonus.
It's a shame that an addition of the BlackBerry ‘tool belt’ had to be so significant for it to fall under the name of Classic.
This phone should have really been the BlackBerry Q5 or Q10, offering its customers more of a gentle upgrade slope rather than pushing them off a cliff.
In the end that cliff left them to contend with a completely new OS, and completely new hardware. Perhaps too much to cope with, all at once.
Here's hoping that more gentle improvements are seen next, instead of big leaps.
- Screen: 3.5-inch, 720 x 720 LCD
- Dimensions: 131mm x 72.4mm x 10.2mm
- Battery: 2515 mAh
-Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon, 1.5.2GHz (dual core)
- Camera: 8 megapixel (rear), 2MP (front)
- Video: 720p
- Connectivity: 4G LTE, HSDPA, Wi-Fi