First look: BlackBerry Classic is a killer smartphone -- for keyboard lovers

The BlackBerry Classic is the best smartphone the company has ever released, but it won't lure away many iPhone or Android users

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BlackBerry Classic: My conclusions

The BlackBerry Classic is designed to look, feel, and function like one of the most popular BlackBerry devices ever made, and it achieves all three of these goals. The Classic is great-looking and well-built. The keyboard can't be beat. It's a great size for a "candy bar"-style phone. It does notifications and alerts like no other mobile device. A new set of keyboard shortcuts adds value and brings back something BlackBerry lost in its first set of BlackBerry 10 devices. The Classic gets great battery life, and the company's sharp focus on security shines thanks to an advanced set of valuable privacy and security features.

blackberry classic marble final Brian Sacco

Unfortunately, the Classic reminds me of early "bricklike" BlackBerrys because of its weight. The BlackBerry "app gap" may be smaller than it once was, but it still exists, and Android apps just don't run as well as they do on Android phones. The Classic is available only with 16GB of storage, and its battery is fixed so it can't be removed or replaced. The Classic's low-resolution display is weak. Its camera also leaves something to be desired in certain environments. 

The BlackBerry Classic is a wonderful device … for BlackBerry users. BlackBerry says that's what it was going for, and it succeeded admirably on that front. The company says the Classic is for its current users, who've purposefully chosen to forgo other device alternatives and stick with their "CrackBerrys." If you fit that bill, you will love this device. 

Would I recommend the BlackBerry Classic to an Android or iPhone user who is looking for a change? Maybe, but I'd also make sure they read the "Bad Stuff" section of this review.

[Related Review: 10 things BlackBerry Z10 does that the iPhone can't]

I like the BlackBerry Classic. It's my new "work phone," and it has secured a home in my pocket for the foreseeable future. However, I carry two phones, and if for some reason, I had to pick just one, it would not be the Classic. Thankfully, I don't have to pick one.

The BlackBerry Classic is currently available for pre-order from BlackBerry's website for $449. It is expected to ship in mid-December. Unfortunately, the version that BlackBerry is selling is not compatible with Verizon Wireless or Sprint in the United States. Individual wireless carriers are expected to announce their specific release details soon, though, and Verizon or Sprint-compatible versions could become available.

This story, "First look: BlackBerry Classic is a killer smartphone -- for keyboard lovers" was originally published by CIO.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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