BlackBerry today announced the BlackBerry Classic, making official the smartphone that CEO John Chen has teased for the better part of a year. The Classic has a throwback look, as its name alludes, with a full QWERTY physical keyboard, physical navigation keys, and a nearly indistinguishable design from BlackBerry smartphones from years ago, such as the Bold. The Classic is significantly smaller than the Passport, which BlackBerry launched earlier this year, and is actually possible to use in one hand, unlike the gargantuan Passport. BlackBerry says this phone will appeal to those looking for the traditional BlackBerry experience that made those devices so popular so many years ago.
The Classic has a square, 720 x 720 pixel, 3.5-inch touchscreen perched above the keyboard and navigation keys. It's a bit smaller than the 4.5-inch screen on the Passport, and much smaller than the average smartphone's display, but it makes it possible to use the Classic in one hand and still have the physical QWERTY keyboard. The phone is powered by an aging dual-core Qualcomm processor from 2012 paired with 2GB of RAM. That likely won't cut it for modern mobile gaming, but it should be fine for plowing through thousands of emails a day, which is what BlackBerry expects Classic users to do. There's an 8-megapixel camera on the back of the phone, with a 2-megapixel unit on the front.
The Classic runs BlackBerry 10, which offers productivity tools like the Hub, Assistant, and Blend. It also can run Android apps, which are accessible through the Amazon Appstore that's preloaded on the device. BlackBerry diehards will be happy to know that the BrickBreaker game is also available on the Classic and can be played like it was on older BlackBerry smartphones.
The Classic is a very specific device for a very specific smartphone user
Appropriately, BlackBerry announced the Classic in the heart of New York's Financial District, an area of the country where BlackBerry smartphones are still a fairly common sight. Perhaps even more so than the Passport, the Classic isn't a device that's going to appeal to the mainstream smartphone consumer, but rather it's for people who like BlackBerry devices and aren't looking to browse the web or play a lot of games on their phones. BlackBerry hasn't been on the minds of consumers for years, so now the company is doubling down on its core business users, and the Classic looks like the strongest play for that field yet.
BlackBerry says the Classic is available starting today "through local carriers around the world," and AT&T and Verizon have confirmed they will sell the device in 2015, though carrier pricing has yet to be announced. The Classic is also available unlocked through BlackBerry and Amazon's online stores for $449.