It’s been a long time since anybody has taken BlackBerry phones seriously. The company’s product line, once innovative and groundbreaking, has become little more than a collection of antiquated technology. Their stock has collapsed and the company has been scrambling to find its base again. BlackBerry’s keyboard is no longer the saving grace it used to be, even if Kim Kardashian and Barack Obama still haven’t relinquished theirs. There’s something about BlackBerry, particularly ownership of a BlackBerry, that means something to people. But BlackBerry cannot survive on sentiment alone; what the company needs is to develop a great phone. This it has tried, and failed, to do with the BlackBerry Classic.
From the looks of it, the BlackBerry Classic is a phone inspired by nostalgia. With the return to the classic design of BlackBerry’s glory days, it looks like the phone you used to want. The physical keyboard is as beautiful and refreshing as ever, and you feel as though just by holding it you could receive an email from Mark Cuban about investing millions into your startup. It’s got the look, and the feel, of the most powerful phone in existence.
But for all of its positive points, the Classic is simply marred with flaws that make it impractical for everyday use. In development, BlackBerry chose to lock down on the characteristics of their phones that make them most appealing to businesses: the keyboard, email and some of the best security on the market. They do this, and they do it well, but the feeling is much more like iteration rather than innovation. The Classic is an old dog with the same old tricks and, while the company would like to make old seem new again, it just doesn’t have the power to keep up with other phones on the market. It’s a shame too, since the Classic boasts an impressive 22 hours of battery life.
BlackBerry has long survived on the idea that people need two phones: one for work and one for home. However, as competing phones from both the Apple and Android camps get more secure, businesses, especially younger ones, are forgoing that “need” for a second phone. With the aging business elite nearing ever closer to retirement, BlackBerry needs to create a phone that combines the demands of public and private life. They’ve waded in these waters with the Classic’s compatibility of Android apps (perhaps the best idea they’ve ever had), but with the phone’s antiquated chipset, its processors just aren’t up to the challenge of running these apps at acceptable speeds. It doesn’t matter how addicted you are, nobody is waiting more than five seconds to play Candy Crush.
The Classic was an honest attempt at a comeback that missed the mark. For those still hacking away at the keyboard of their old BlackBerry Bold, the Classic will serve as a sufficient upgrade. But for those used to the speeds and cultural relevance of iOS and Android, there is little in the Classic other than novelty. Perhaps it’s the phone you’ve always wanted, but it’s just not the phone that you need right now. Amongst rumors of Samsung’s possible acquisition of BlackBerry, it’s starting to seem that maybe selling the company is BlackBerry’s only viable option if it is to survive in today’s fast-paced market. The obvious benefits of a SamBerry revolve around the iconic BlackBerry platform running a native Android environment. The possibilities, from there, seem endless.