The BlackBerry Classic: Mixing the Old with the New

In 2014, the Canadian tech firm Research in Motion (RIM) resolved that the time had come to make drastic, yet strategic, business decisions for the purpose of remaining as a significant player in the mobile computing sector.

RIM’s flagship product, the BlackBerry mobile device, had a strong legacy of being a favorite among business and corporate users, but the proliferation of iPhones, as well as of smartphones powered by the Android and Windows mobile operating systems, resulted in a massive loss of market share for RIM.

For a while, RIM’s strategy focused on attempts to modernize the BlackBerry’s specs with new features such as a higher-definition camera, a long-lasting battery, and an upgraded operating system. To that effect, one of the strongest statements by RIM arrived in 2011 with the BlackBerry Bold 9900, which arguably had the most solid version of its proprietary operating system plus the best specs.

Unfortunately, the 9900 failed to take hold as intended. RIM entered a period of inconspicuousness before settling on what would become its slightly flawed masterpiece: the BlackBerry Classic. A lot has been said about the pleasant return of the hardware keyboard to the modern smartphone scene; after all, RIM has always been known as the provider of the best integrated QWERTY keyboard ever experienced on mobile devices.

The BlackBerry Classic looks great; it evokes fond memories with an improved design and feel. As a modern smartphone, the Classic boasts an adequate size: 5.1 inches tall and 2.8 inches across; however, the size also seems to be its only shortcoming. Introducing a comfortable and dependable keyboard means sacrificing screen real estate; while RIM engineers seem to have managed this issue to the best of their abilities, the resulting aspect ratio and touchscreen size are not very ideal.

Most of the new features found in the BlackBerry Classic are centered on the keyboard, which includes an optical trackpad that allows classic manipulation of an onscreen cursor; this is a feature that is sure to win over smartphone users who compose documents and who send detailed email messages.

The BlackBerry software version 10.3.1 is functional enough and makes great use of the keyboard as it relates to shortcuts; alas, it pales in comparison with the likes of Android, iOS and Windows. In fact, one of the most pleasant surprises of the BlackBerry Classic is that it supports Android apps, which makes up for the tepid native apps.