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BlackBerry Classic review: A killer smartphone for keyboard lovers

Al Sacco | Dec. 19, 2014
The BlackBerry Classic is the best smartphone the company has ever released, according to CIO.com's Al Sacco. However, it's not going to lure away many iPhone or Android users, or significantly increase BlackBerry's market share. And that's just fine with BlackBerry. Here's why.

Just to be clear: The BlackBerry Classic is really heavy. You get used to the weight, but the Classic is awkwardly hefty, and that's a turnoff.

This next point feels tired to me, because I've written about it more times than I care to remember. It is, however, a major drawback of the BlackBerry OS -- perhaps the major drawback. The app selection, performance and overall experience on BlackBerry 10 pale in comparison to Android and iOS.

The few apps I use that I got from BlackBerry's own app store, BlackBerry World, run well. The problem is the "few" part; I probably only use half a dozen BlackBerry-specific apps. Moniz-Bennett told me that she thinks the company "closed the app gap" with the Amazon App Store.

It did make major gains when it brought the Amazon store to BlackBerry 10. However, the Android-app-on-BlackBerry experience is quite poor. For example, I read a lot, and I use Amazon's Kindle store to purchase most of my books. I like to read on my phone when I'm on the train. So the Kindle app is important to me. Kindle for iOS works very well, as does the Android version ... at least on an Android device. Kindle for Android is available for the Classic, and other BlackBerry 10 devices, via the Amazon App Store, but every other time I open the app, it shows me a progress symbol and gets stuck. If I close the app and reopen it a few times, it works. It's a poor, and often frustrating, experience.

The fact is that the Android apps in Amazon's store simply weren't built to run on BlackBerrys, especially BlackBerrys with square displays. Some of them run better than others. Many of these apps have only on-screen controls, so they won't work with the Classic's new tool belt navigation keys. Android apps that run on BlackBerry 10 are better than nothing, but the overall experience leaves something to be desired.

While the BlackBerry Classic's battery life is a plus, I had a significant issue charging my battery. It will not charge beyond the 63 percent mark, no matter how long I charge it, which cords I use or what outlets I connect it to. I let my device charge overnight the first two nights I had it, and it charged to 100 percent. However, the following four nights it was at 63 percent charge when I grabbed it in the morning, after more than eight hours of charging.

BlackBerry says it has not heard of any other similar reports from reviewers or early users. This may be a fluke incident that won't affect all Classic users, but it was an issue with this particular unit. I also wish that the Classic had a removable battery, but with 22 hours of mixed use, a replaceable battery isn't as important as it used to be.

 

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