Jeff Kagan: Review of New BlackBerry Classic

Jeff Kagan |


The brand new BlackBerry Classic is making its debut this week. AT&T Inc. (T) Mobility sent me one to test drive. If I had to tell you what I think about this device in one sentence, I would say if you like BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY) , you may love this new Classic. But wait, there’s more…

Back to the Future is one of my favorite films. That’s sort of what it felt like using the new BlackBerry Classic. However, while the movie took you back in time, and everything was as it was, the BlackBerry Classic has lots of familiar features in a familiar handset, but the new BB 10 operating system does let you know you are a long way from 1955 Hill Valley.

Is There A Market for Blackberry Classic?

I have talked with others about their opinions on this device, as well. Many current BlackBerry users seem to love the idea of something new, although they have not actually tried this device yet. Some BlackBerry users who have left the fold say they will take a look. Who knows, BlackBerry might even win a few old customers back!

There does seem to be a market for the device, but these days, size is a significant question. The idea of a new BlackBerry that looks and works like the familiar device they love gets users excited. This is good for BlackBerry - it means there could still be plenty of users who want to carry a BlackBerry...assuming they like the device and the way it works.

I have been using the classic for several days, and found several pros and cons to tell you about. For the record, I have never found a wireless device without pros and cons. Nothing is perfect. So depending what you are looking for, this may be perfect for you, or maybe not.

No smartphone has 100% market share. Even iPhone and Android have less than 50% in most countries. So it’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong answer. There is only market share, and that translates into success or failure.

When BlackBerry led the smartphone space, they used BB 7 as their operating system on the Torch and Bold. Next, the iPhone and Android were created and changed the space almost overnight.

The BlackBerry's answer to iPhone and Android was the BB 8 operating system...which was a disaster. Today, BlackBerry is hoping the Classic on the new BB 10 OS is a hit.


BlackBerry Classic Review is a Home Run

I have been using it for several days, and I can honestly say the BlackBerry Classic device I am using is a home run.

It’s a beautiful device. It looks and feels much like the BlackBerry Bold. It’s solid and operates well. It is heavier than the iPhone and Galaxy. On a separate note, if this Classic is like the Bold, could the Torch be getting ready for a comeback as well?

By the way, that classic BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard is back. I was a BlackBerry user years ago and I still love that keyboard, although it does cut down on screen size.

The Classic will be very attractive to many current BlackBerry customers who are looking for something new. The screen is more of a square shape, compared to the taller iPhone screen. It’s not too small, but it is different. This screen may be too small for users of larger screened devices. It could be longer, but BlackBerry has chosen to use the real estate for their QWERTY keyboard.

The BB 10 operating system is much better than BB 8. Let’s face it: BB 7 may have been a home run, but BB 8 was a complete disaster. BB 10 is an improvement, and works very well. Remember how BB 8 froze and operated slowly from time to time? That, and other issuers were annoying. No such problems with BB 10, so far, at least. It operates very well, although it is very different from BB 7.

BlackBerry is still missing the boat on their Internet browser. This is an area they should have reinvented and reinvigorated the browser. It was always a weak spot, and from what I see, this has not changed.

You may like it, but I prefer the way Apple, Inc. (AAPL) does it by synching with your computer and copying all your favorites to the device. This and the Google Inc. (GOOG) Chrome browser make using the Internet so much easier for me.

The other weak spot is apps. Blackberry has partnered with on delivering apps. This helps BlackBerry BB 10 to be much better and stronger than BB 8...but there still are not as many apps as on the iPhone or Android. Hopefully that will continue to improve over time.

There are many other things we can discuss, but the bottom line is, this BlackBerry Classic has pros and cons like every smartphone, but for many users, this is a great device.

What This Means for BlackBerry

This means the Classic could help BlackBerry further stabilize their operations and customer base. This could even win back some users who left in recent years.

Will this new BlackBerry Classic be a hit? We’ll have to wait and see...if it’s marketed well, I believe it can be a significant hit for the company. The question is, with who? I think many current BlackBerry users are looking for something new. This will help BlackBerry stabilize their customer base.

Then the next question is, will Classic help them grow the customer base? I think the answer to that question is yes, but only to a point. Then again, BlackBerry has such a low market share today that they could conceivably double it with little effort if the device is a winner. There is plenty of growth room if they strike the right cord in the marketing arena.

Believe it or not, there are users who left BlackBerry because of the disastrous last few years, but who are not really happy with iPhone or Android either. Many are ready to come back for the right device, tighter security and all of BlackBerry strengths.

BlackBerry Classic is Most Secure Device

I think BlackBerry is still the most secure mobile device on the market. That has a lot of value to one slice of the customer pie who needs security. That means business, government and very private consumers. For many people, the security of BlackBerry is still more important than any of Apple or Samsung's bells and whistles.

Not every user needs all the functionality, browser or apps of an iPhone or Android. In fact, many business users would prefer the security provided by a BlackBerry to any other device.

The Choice is Simple

So the choice seems to be simple. Do you want the hottest smartphone with all the apps and features all your friends are using and talking about? Then iPhone or Android make sense. However, if you want a solid, attractive, private and secure smartphone, then BlackBerry may be perfect for you.

I think this BlackBerry Classic will be a hit with this segment of the marketplace. The only question is, how large is that segment? It won’t really impact the marketplace in general, or Apple, Google or Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. in particular, but this could be very good for BlackBerry and their loyal users who have stuck with them this long.

In fact, if BB 10 was launched seven years ago as the first response to Apple and Google, we might not have seen BlackBerry tank like is has over time. Perhaps now that things are getting better and starting to look stronger for the company, they're ready for a comeback. Let’s hope, one step at a time.

So if you think you might like BlackBerry, check out this new Classic. It may be just the smartphone you are looking for.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:


Symbol Name Price Change % Volume
AAPL Apple Inc. 116.60 -0.46 -0.39 23,192,665
BBRY BlackBerry Limited 7.37 -0.11 -1.47 2,214,932
GOOG Alphabet Inc. 799.37 2.40 0.30 1,266,181
T AT&T Inc. 37.49 -1.16 -3.00 82,764,994


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