In the Classic, QWERTY lovers might have finally found a device to look up to, notes Nitin Sreedhar.
A couple of weeks back a fellow journalist replied to one of my tweets on the BlackBerry Classic's launch.
Her response was an apt description of what went right - and wrong - for QWERTY lovers: "bb (BlackBerry) fanatics are still alive although dormant".
When we look at the smartphone community, especially in terms of input, touchscreens rule the roost. Tangible keyboards are virtually non-existent.
While BlackBerry did venture into the touchscreen territory as well, coming out with the likes of the Z10 and Z30, the company has now brought back the features that established its credentials in the first place.
The BlackBerry Classic has a sturdy design. At 178g, it is heavy, but built to last.
The Classic's outer frame is made of stainless steel and the major ports, volume and power keys, speakers have been integrated nicely into the body.
The best thing about the frame is that it's not prone to fingerprints. The back has a grainy textured design, which provides a strong grip.
The screen - with Corning Gorilla Glass - is 60 per cent bigger compared to the Bold 9900. The physical keyboard has been optimised to produce better, error-free results.
A fresh OS
The BlackBerry 10 operating system 10.3.1 has a flatter design, with new icons and user interface elements, that provides smoother navigation.
You can wake the device up by merely swiping up from the navigation bar. There's so much one can do even in standby mode - preview notifications, keep a check on the number of messages and even start the camera by pressing and holding the icon.
When you are swiping through the apps menu, you will notice that the BlackBerry Hub (which manages all your conversations email, texts, BBM and so on) and Camera icons are always present at the bottom.
And once you have enabled Universal Search, you can start typing and searching for anything you are looking for - on the device and the internet. You can also access the Quick Settings menu by swiping down from the top of the screen.
The operating system is supported by a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor and 2GB RAM.
You will notice the occasional lag when launching a few apps. While the processor isn't a stumbling block, it will make you wonder, "Wait a minute, this could have been better."
There is good news on the apps front though. Since the BlackBerry Classic runs the 10.3 operating system out-of-the-box, the Amazon Appstore is pre-installed on the device.
So users will have no problems in accessing Android apps. And if that doesn't whet your appetite, then BlackBerry World has plenty of productivity apps to offer.
Another new feature in the operating system is BlackBerry Blend. Blend allows users to bring all the data from their BlackBerry to a personal laptop or tablet.
The most secure feature about Blend is that it does not store any info on your personal devices.
Classy camera; battery
Just like the screen, the battery on the BlackBerry Classic is bigger, too. With a capacity of 2,515mAh, the Classic will easily last you for a day on moderate usage.
The eight-megapixel rear camera on the Classic performed brilliantly. When it comes to using the rear camera in dark conditions, we advise you to use the flash.
The front-facing camera (two-megapixel) produced decent results, too. As mentioned before, the camera is an integral part of the Classic - you can access it directly from the lock screen too.
QWERTY: Keys to success
BlackBerry is betting big on the Classic, but it's also expecting a lot from the 35-key backlit keyboard, for it could finally wake up the 'dormant BB fanatics'.
And, there is no reason why the Classic cannot do that. The new keyboard, along with the navigation bar and trackpad, have been designed exquisitely.
A new BlackBerry user could take time to get used to the system and the art of typing with a QWERTY keyboard. But for all the loyalists who have been following the company closely and used the Bold 9900, the transition should be effortless.
So, does the Classic come at a classic price? Actually, a bit higher - Rs 31,990. Eyebrows will be raised and questions will be asked when it comes to the price.
Frankly, a stronger processor would have eased the pressure. But take nothing away from the BlackBerry Classic because QWERTY lovers finally have a device to look up to.
Processor: 1.5 GHz Qualcomm 8960; dual-core
Cameras: 8 MP (rear); 2MP (front-facing)
OS: BlackBerry 10 (10.3.1)
RAM: 2 GB
Battery: 2,515 mAH battery
Price: Rs 31,990