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How cool is old school? We review the Blackberry Classic

Damage:

R5999 on prepaid, roughly R399/month on a Vodacom contract

What you need to know:

  • Runs on Blackberry OS
  • Some Android app capability
  • Physical QWERTY keyboard
  • 8MP Camera
  • 3.5″ screen
  • weighs 178 grams
  • 10.2mm thick
  • 16GB on board memory and takes a Micro SD Card
  • Nano sim

What we think you should know:

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Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: you’re not Blackberry’s target market any more. They’re no longer focusing on taking over the world with BBM or ensuring every young 20 something it tapping away furiously on their Blackberry device. Which a change in sentiment to the original giant of the phone world their marketing plan had to follow suit. Blackberry has changed their direction and is now targeting the business man. It’s a decision that makes sense. Their phones offer some of the best security and encryption features on the market (did you know Blackberry is the only phone that when you perform a factory reset actually scrubs the entire phone. So there really isn’t a trace of you on there?). The Blackberry hub is also possibly the best set up for handling your notifications and prioritizing what’s important.

The Blackberry Classic is the latest offering from the BB stable and it is a phone that was clearly designed for the Blackberry loyal. It’s a homage to the Blackberry Bold 9900, a phone that led most of us into the world of connected phones.

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Design wise you’re looking at the classic Blackberry phone only a bit bigger. It has a 3.5″ touch screen and a physical QWERTY keyboard. At first I thought that this would be the best thing since sliced bread (if they had to take it away from me, make me cut my own bread and then let me buy sliced again). I loved a physical keyboard. I find you make less typing errors and can easily type with one hand. The Blackberry Classic did allow me to do both these things. The screen is also touch sensitive so you have a hybrid phone of sorts. The traditional belt of commands (like menu and back) have also been given the physical button treatment and the scrolley navigation key is back.

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The phone is heavier than what is currently on the market. It sits rather sturdy in your hands but is beautifully designed. No plasticky cheap feel here. The screen is Gorilla Glass, meaning even if you smash it up it’ll still be touch sensitive. It has a stainless steel casing and a perforated type backing. Remember that terrible elastoplaster type backing of the Samsung S5? Well, the Blackberry Classic’s back is how Samsung should have done it.

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But do we have to remove the battery to get it to work?

Remember how the magical solution to fix all Blackberry ailments was to pull off the back cover and take out the battery? Aah, simpler times. I didn’t find the Classic buggy at all. The biggest draw card to the Blackberry OS is the hub. It is a fantastic means to handle and manage all your notifications. You can completely customise it to suit you and I find that the moment I move to a Blackberry review unit I spend less time reading Facebook birthday notification messages and more time getting to actual work.

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However that was where the magic ended for me. I consume a lot of media. Think YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest. My media consumption tends to be image heavy. I found the 3.5″ screen cut off pictures and was basically useless when it came to viewing anything on YouTube. I think once you’ve used a full touch screen like that of the Blackberry Z3 or an Android device, you’re going to struggle going back to a small square screen.

If you’re new to the hub or the BB 10 OS don’t let that put you off. Setting up and figuring it all out has been made far more simpler and the phone walks you through it all. You’re not going to be spending weeks trying to figure out how to use it.

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But is old school cool?

The Blackberry apps are limited but the phone comes with Amazon apps preloaded and is compatible with most Android apps (though to be honest I find most a bit buggy on the Blackberry). The Blackberry web browser is incredibly fast as well.

The 8MP Camera is okay. The square screen had me going “blagh” when I took a photo. But that’s not why you buy a Blackberry Classic. Bear with me for a moment. If you’ve ever been tortured by watching an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians you’ll know that Kim Kardashian spends most of the show smashing away at the keys on her Blackberry (a phone she has publically said she will never get rid of. Despite the actual brand refusing outright to endorse or be linked to her in any way). That’s what this phone is created for. It’s designed for the communicator. The person who phones (yup people still do that), spends all day in What’s App group chats and tweets about every little thing they do. The physical keyboard holds up to the abuse and the Battery Life doesn’t falter, no matter how many smiley faces you insist on sending to your entire phone book. You’re looking at a good 22 hours of battery life with the Blackberry Classic.

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The security on the Blackberry is the big selling point. Blackberry Guardian scans any Android apps for malware before you download and you really have an extremely secure device. You’ll note we’re yet to see a leaked Kardashian mobile video… just saying.

If you’re a Blackberry addict, a business only type of phone user or someone who spends more time messaging her friends than actually talking to people face to face you’re going to be obsessed with this phone. If you don’t fit into those boxes you’re going to be incredibly underwhelmed. Unless you’re a hipster, then the Classic feel might be right up your alley.

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So rad:

  • Physical keyboards are still pretty rad. I think anyway.
  • I do love the hub.

Makes us sad:

  • Small square screens aren’t social media friendly.
  • The phone is rather chunky

Disclaimer: The Blackberry Classic we used was a review unit given to us for 3 weeks so we could review the Blackberry Classic. It will be returned to Blackberry once this review has been published. 

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