BlackBerry Classic: Final nail in the coffin or sign of potential renaissance?

BlackBerry Classic review: software

Let's take a look at the software on which the BlackBerry Classic runs: BlackBerry 10.3.1. The traditional review of BlackBerry 10 is to say it has unusual swipe navigation, no apps, and great server side support for system admins. Well the first element is true: it takes a bit of getting used to but in time it feels intuitive to swipe from the sides, or the top and bottom, to get to the home page or the BlackBerry Hub. And despite pressure from Windows Phone, BlackBerry remains the gold standard for running a fleet of devices for a business. Data can be secured and deleted, software updates pushed out remotely. Your system admin will always thank you for choosing a BlackBerry.

The apps thing has definitely improved since BlackBerry started including the Amazon App Store. Spotify is there, for instance, as are native apps for all the major social networks. We could even install GeekBench and benchmark the Classic (which BlackBerry may live to regret). But you will find odd misses - I couldn't see a YouTube app that was made by Google, for example. If you are purchasing a phone for app support BlackBerry is not the way to go. In general, however, BlackBerry 10.3 is good to look at and easy to use. It is very similar to recent Android and iOS. And this is not the phone to buy if you are looking for loads of apps and media. Clearly not.

Things we like about BlackBerry 10.3 - in-window email notifications let you read and either dismiss or click to respond to messages as they come in, regardless of what you are looking at. True multitasking is possible because of that big screen and the fact that a simple swipe lets you see all open apps in an array of nine windows. Indeed swipe gestures that work on the touchscreen and keyboard are pretty cool, and the typing issues we had with the hardware keyboard are mitigated to an extent by the fact that if you attempt to move the cursor via touch you get a little circle with arrows that you can nudge to get the correct spot between two characters.

We have also grown to love BlackBerry Blend, the desktop-side software that allows you access information from your BlackBerry Classic. So you can hit the road with your laptop and the Classic, and use your laptop as your email client by hooking up the Classic. It's old school, but hugely effective and productive. And secure! (See also: Blackberry Z10 review.)

BlackBerry Classic review: battery life

I found I could comfortably eek the BlackBerry Classic through a day and a half or even two days of use. It has a relatively large for this spec 2,515 mAh battery, a relatively small screen, and being principally a communications device I wasn't tempted to drain the battery with games or video.

The Battery Saving Profile feature will automatically lower the display brightness and make other battery saving changes if you get close to the end. By default this is set to 20 percent, but you can adjust this number. In our unofficial testing, then, the BlackBerry Classic does well on battery life.

OUR VERDICT

This is a hard product to score. If you want a smartphone with a keyboard, and you want it purely for messaging and calls, with a little web-browsing thrown in, the BlackBerry Classic is the perfect device at an excellent price. A five star product. But general smartphone users will be frustrated by the relatively low power, and the paucity of screen space. If you are a BlackBerry fan, you will love the Classic. Otherwise there are better deals elsewhere.