BlackBerry Classic Pushes All the Old Buttons

BlackBerry is going back to what it knows best. Featuring the trademark physical keyboard and trackpad, the aptly-named BlackBerry Classic is sort of a greatest-hits device from a company looking to reconnect with its core customer base. Available through AT&T for $449, I went hands-on with the Classic to see how it compares to its previous devices, and if it can retain its loyal users.

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Despite its size (5.2 x 2.9 x 0.4 inches), the Classic was very comfortable to hold and use with just one hand. While larger than the Bold 9900, which it's replacing in BlackBerry's lineup, the Classic's curved edges made it much easier to use than the larger squared-off Passport. I liked the stainless steel frame and rubberized back, and never felt as if the 6.24-ounce phone would fall from my hands.

The keyboard, as usual, was excellent for typing, and the trackpad remained as easy as ever to navigate the Classic's 3.5-inch 720 x 720-pixel display. It's much more manageable than the Passport's 4.5-inch, 1440 x 1440-pixel display, and the lower resolution wasn't an issue. Better still, the special characters, such as numbers and symbols, are secondary keys, rather than appearing on the touchscreen. It's a much better use of space.

BlackBerry OS 10.3.1, the newest version of BlackBerry's mobile operating system, has the familiar elements from previous iterations. Swiping all the way to the left reveals your email, while swipes in the other direction show open and downloaded apps. Of course, you can only get apps through BB World and the Amazon App Store, so no Google apps for you.

BlackBerry says the 2,515-mAh battery in the Classic will last up to 22 hours of mixed use. I'm currently putting it through its paces to find out, but if true, will be a boon to mobile professionals who don't want to huddle near an outlet.

Like many BlackBerrys before it, the Classic is a solid piece of hardware that will undoubtedly appeal to diehards clinging to their three-year-old Bold 9900s. Will it win any Android or iOS converts? That I'm not so sure of; stay tuned for our full review of the BlackBerry Classic for my full impressions.