BlackBerry dug out its Bold and give it a new lick of paint in the form of the new BlackBerry Classic.
After lacklustre reception of its recent BlackBerry 10 devices, which was somewhat boosted by the square Passport that saw the physical keyboard stretched as wide as a small tablet, the Canadian company has decided to stick with what it knows its customers used to like.
“We listened closely to our customers’ feedback to ensure we are delivering the technologies to power them through their day – and that feedback led directly to the development of BlackBerry Classic,” said John Chen, chief executive of BlackBerry. “BlackBerry Classic is the powerful communications tool that many BlackBerry Bold and Curve users have been waiting for. It’s the secure device that feels familiar in their hands, with the added performance and agility they need to be competitive in today’s busy world.”
BlackBerry describes the Classic as a “no-nonsense smartphone built to meet the needs of productive people who appreciate the speed and accuracy that can be found with a physical keyboard”.
As such it is the spitting image of the BlackBerry Bold from 2011, which is still being used by businesses that haven’t yet dropped BlackBerrys as their prescribed work phone.
“By bringing back the trusted functionalities, incorporating our latest operating system and building a speedier browser, our users can feel confident they are using the best communications tool out there,” said Chen.
Unlike the Passport, the Classic has the the physical shortcut keys and optical navigation button that made the Bold popular, as well as the a 3.5in touchscreen. It promises 22 hours of battery life and a modern processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. Like a lot of Android smartphones it also has a microSD card slot for adding more storage.
Highlights include a web browser that is three times faster than the Bold, and access to Amazon’s app store for a limited number of Android applications.
Security and privacy by default
BlackBerry is pushing privacy and encryption by default with the Classic, as well as “built-in protection against viruses, tampering and data leaks.”
Whether the Classic is enough to turn around BlackBerry’s continued slide in device marketshare remains to be seen. The Passport managed to buoy up BlackBerry’s share price along with its aggressive cost cutting.
BlackBerry’s refocus on business users, in effect jettisoning its consumer offerings, has been seen as a positive move by some industry watchers, which the Classic is likely to feed directly into. BlackBerry’s biggest challenge, it seems, is the perceived instability of its future, which it has to overcome to satisfy concerns and attracted back big business.
For BlackBerry die-hards, the Classic is likely to be the answer to their prayers – a tried and tested design with updated software – but it is unlikely to tempt anyone away from Apple’s iPhone or the many good options among the Android devices.
This article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 17th December 2014 15.01 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010