News Updates : Blackberry Classic Chosses Come Back To basics

Neighbours Envy, Owners Pride! My reference is not to the popular Onida TV advertisement of the 80s; I am talking about those BlackBerry-wielding business executives who are always in a tearing hurry to get a job done quickly. Most people who own this QWERTY keyboard phone—essentially to stay in touch with their clients and offices—are addicted to it and the ease and convenience of the Bla
ckBerry makes those who do not have one—envious. For those new to the mobile world, let me point out that Research In Motion (RIM) pioneered the concept of on-your-hip email back in the late 90s with its first BlackBerry phone. But competition soon followed and RIM has steadily lost market share to Apple’s iPhone and devices using Google’s Android technology.

Cut to present. BlackBerry’s fight to stay relevant has gained momentum in the past few months. Its long-awaited Classic device is here, a smartphone it hopes will help it win back market share and woo those still using older versions of its physical keyboard devices. The Canadian mobile technology company says that the new device, which bears striking similarities to its once wildly popular Bold and Curve handsets, boasts a larger screen, longer battery life, an expanded app library with access to offerings from Amazon’s App store, and a browser three times faster than the one on its legacy devices. Its retails for R31,990.

I have been using a test-unit of the Classic since the beginning of this year and take my word it’s a stylish phone, built to last. I can say this with confidence as I have been a prolific user of the Bold 9900 and Q10 device. Compared to both these phones, the Classic is a significant improvement. It upgrades the Bold 9900 experience with three times faster browser, 60% more screen space, 50% longer battery life and greater variety of apps through BlackBerry World and the Amazon Appstore.

Most important, BlackBerry has heeded to the suggestions of its die-hard fans and brought back the command bar functionality that helped make its legacy phones easy to navigate. It might be recalled that when the company initially introduced its new BlackBerry 10 operating system and devices early in 2012 it put more emphasis on touchscreens, alienating many fans of its physical keyboard. Those who moved to the new physical keyboard phones that BlackBerry launched later were unhappy that command keys such as the Menu, Back, Send and End buttons, along with the trackpad had been dropped.

Out of the box, the Classic feels great in your hands and is built to last. The back and sides also provide a reassuring grip in the hand. It has a new metal band, around the edge and sealed back, which means the battery is not removable. The phone offers a form factor optimised for power communicators with a 3.5-inch touch screen display, 294 dpi HD resolution and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for greater durability. In fact, I found the Classic’s screen to be much sharper than the Q10 or the Bold, and text and images appear crisp enough for most uses. The nano SIM card slot and microSD card slot for adding more storage are in the side of the phone. The lower part of the phone has three holes, one for the micro USB cable for charging and syncing the smartphone, one for its decent-sounding speaker, and the other for a microphone.

The Classic offers a large battery capacity and battery optimisation software. With upto 22 hours of battery power, you can be confident that the Classic will be ready to deliver results when you need it. The device is built with durable materials mixed with top-of-the-line technology. This includes a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, 2 GB RAM, 16 GB of device storage (expandable by up to 128 GB via uSD), and a 2 megapixel front and megapixel rear-facing camera with enhanced optics and upgraded imaging sensors.

The keyboard is the real star here. The QWERTY keyboard has stood the test of time as the iconic BlackBerry feature that users know and trust. Crafted for optimal speed and accuracy, the Classic’s QWERTY keyboard gives users the control and confidence to communicate quickly and clearly using one hand with a trackpad and classic navigation keys. In real usage, I could easily detect that the BlackBerry 10 web browser is amazingly fast and beautiful. It means that a user can access his/her favourite online content as it was meant to be seen, faster than ever before and with unlimited browser tabs.

The Classic comes preloaded with the BlackBerry 10.3.1 operating system, offering a fresh look that incorporates updated icons and an instant action bar so that each user’s most commonly accessed functions are in the centre of their screen. With this new operating system, users gain access to powerful features such as BlackBerry Blend. Essentially, this brings messaging and content that is on your BlackBerry smartphone to your computer and tablet. This blending of the PC and mobile world ensures that you will get instant message notifications, and are able to read and respond to your work and personal email, BBM and text messages, as well as access your documents, calendar, contacts and media in real time on whatever device you are on, powered by your BlackBerry.

Then, there’s BlackBerry’s first digital assistant which can be used with voice and text commands to help users manage work and personal email, contacts, calendar and other native BlackBerry 10 applications. BlackBerry Assistant intelligently determines how to respond to you based on how you interact with it—if you type, it responds silently, if you speak, it speaks back and if you activate over Bluetooth, it speaks back with additional context because it assumes you might not have access to the screen.

Overall, the Classic is a solidly-built phone with the best physical keyboard. BlackBerry has truly returned to its roots.

  • Dimensions: 131 x 72.4 x 10.2 mm
  • Display: 3.5 inch square touch display
  • Processor: Qualcomm MSM 8960
  • 1.5 GHz
  • Operating system: BlackBerry 10 OS
  • Navigation: 35 key Backlit keyboard
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM, 16 GB Flash
  • Camera: 8 MP (rear); 2 MP front camera
  • Weight: 178g
  • Estimated street price: R31,990

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