BlackBerry Classic–Beyond The Power of the Keyboard Upgraded


BlackBerry Classic

One of BlackBerry’s most widely received legacy smartphones was the BlackBerry Bold 9900 introduced three years ago. In the interim BlackBerry acquired QNX and developed a new, more robust and powerful operating system, BlackBerry 10. However, it launched on touch screen smartphones, such as the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Z30 and, more recently, a low cost version the BlackBerry Z3. BlackBerry 10 also is behind two physical keyboard devices, the BlackBerry Q10 and Q5 but while incorporating BlackBerry 10 software they lacked the familiar navigation buttons and keyboard shortcuts.

However, using BlackBerry 10 involved learning a new user interface – from both a hardware and software perspective. While the BB10 OS software provided many more powerful features, such as BlackBerry Hub and a leading edge mobile browser, it presented challenges to those familiar with the complete feature set of the BlackBerry hardware. They wanted the physical keyboard but with support for the traditional keyboard shortcuts and with restoration of the “belt” – those navigation buttons for placing and ending a call, a menu and back button as well as a track pad.

Over the past year I still found many BlackBerry users sticking with their legacy devices, such as the Bold – praising its unique hardware features. The physical keyboard was critical to their communications activity. They, however, were hoping BlackBerry would finally come out with a more powerful version incorporating the power of BlackBerry 10 with the familiar keyboard and navigation buttons found on the Bold.

Today BlackBerry is launching BlackBerry Classic combining the power of the BlackBerry 10 operating system but also restoring those user interface features that made legacy BlackBerry devices so popular.

BlackBerry Classic includes:

  • BlackBerryClassic.Keyboard.Navigation

    Navigation Buttons and Keyboard

    A 3.5” square touchscreen with 720 x 720 resolution – 60% larger than the Bold’s screen

  • A BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard with sculpted keys and the familiar frets that make for easier and more accurate typing
  • The Belt – restoration of the call, menu, back and end navigation buttons along with a track pad.
  • A Dual Core 1.5 GHZ processor, enhanced with BlackBerry security features in the chip
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB internal memory with a slot for up to a 128GB SD card
  • A 8MP rear camera with a 2MP front facing camera
  • A 2515 mAh battery that provides up to a full day of battery operation between charges – 50% longer than on the Bold
  • A Corning Gorilla® Glass® screen
  • A “built for durability and reliability” build quality incorporating a protective frame built from a single block of stainless steel and a quality back panel finish to ensure a secure grip

While the navigation keys restore their traditional features, they have additional capabilities to support quick navigation through many of the Classic’s activities. In addition to restoring keyboard shortcuts Classic’s keyboard also restores the legacy Cut & Paste feature and the ability to select blocks of, say, emails within the Hub.

But from the new BlackBerry 10.3.1 operating system the Classic includes:


BlackBerry Hub – all messaging activity in one application

  • The BlackBerry Hub – one application for all your messaging activity,
    • incorporating email, BBM, SMS, social networking (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare) and voice mail messaging activity into a single user experience.
  • The BlackBerry 10.3 browser – consistently ranked amongst the top mobile browsers on
    • with unlimited tabs and its unique Reader mode – for easily viewing pages with very small font sizes
  • BlackBerry 10’s predictive text – on the Passport I type about 25-30% of the characters I send in messages
    • it learns your commonly used words and phrases while optionally supporting multiple languages
  • BlackBerry 10 security
  • BlackBerry World, featuring Built for BlackBerry enterprise applications
  • An Android player compatible with Android 4.3 applications
    • with applications available from Amazon App World
  • BlackBerry Blend
    • access and execute your BlackBerry activity on Windows and Mac PC’s, iPad and Android tablets
    • even over a remote connection via a wired Internet service provider or wireless carrier
  • Support for BBM Meetings
    • launch and participate in conferencing activity from any of BlackBerry 10 devices, iPhone, Android phones, Windows and Mac PC’s.
      • the only business grade conferencing app that’s totally mobile centric
    • Support for up to 25 participants – including HD voice and video
    • Only the host requires a subscription

This graphic provides a summary of the evolution from Bold to Q10 to Classic.


BlackBerry evolution to BlackBerry Classic

Price at US$449/C$499, BlackBerry Classic is now available at Rogers, Telus, AT&T and Verizon as well as BlackBerry Shop (US, Canada) and Amazon.

Bottom line:

BlackBerry Classic restores all the “classic” BlackBerry hardware features while incorporating the powerful features of the BlackBerry 10 operating system. BlackBerry Classic is a comprehensive smartphone for the business professional that brings new levels of productivity to their mobile communications activities. Let’s hope BlackBerry Classic’s acceptance can be as successful as the “Coca Cola Classic” restoration back in 1985.

Business News Network: Big Week for BlackBerry – As BlackBerry gets ready to unveil its newest device, Kevin O’Leary, Chairman of O’Leary Financial Group joins BNN’s Business Day for his take on the BlackBerry Classic.

Full disclosure: Various BlackBerry 10 devices, such as the Z10, Z30 and Passport were provided to the author as a member of BlackBerry Elite, a group of BlackBerry users who provide user feedback to BlackBerry and assist with evangelizing the merits of this unique multi-tasking smartphone platform (but we don’t have any advance information on upcoming smartphones, enterprise services or OS developments other than what is in the public domain). There are no affiliate links in this post, nor has there been any monetary compensation provided for publishing this post. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author who has decades of business experience with multi-tasking environments. His main interest is in supporting a Canadian technology pioneer while at the same time getting maximum benefit from his smartphone as a communications device.


About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

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