BlackBerry announced its long-anticipated BlackBerry Classic device, which John Chen, the company’s CEO, described as “everything you know about BlackBerry, upgraded”.
The device sees the return of the familiar BlackBerry keyboard and trackpad, coupled with the company’s BlackBerry 10 platform.
Comparing the device to the BlackBerry Bold 9900, the company said that the new smartphone offers a three times faster browser, 60 per cent more screen space, 50 per cent longer battery life, and a greater variety of apps via BlackBerry World and Amazon Appstore.
With BlackBerry Classic having been expected for some time, and BlackBerry Passport launched in the interim, Chen said that achieving the familiar user experience on top of the new platform is “not as simple a technology as people think”.
BlackBerry Classic has a 3.5-inch touch screen alongside the keypad, and runs BlackBerry OS 10.3.1, which offers “a fresh look that incorporates updated icons and an instant action bar so that each user’s most commonly accessed features are in the centre of the screen”.
It is powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm processor, has 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage (expandable via microSD slot), and 8MP rear and 2MP front cameras.
Also highlighted by BlackBerry was an expansion of its app catalogue to support BlackBerry Classic, with the company arguing in a statement that “the growing catalogue of enterprise applications focused on specific industries – including healthcare, financial and professional services – signals that more and more partners are choosing BlackBerry and its new BlackBerry Classic as the platform of choice to offer secure and productivity enhancing solutions to customers”.
Chen said that the core customer base for BlackBerry Classic is BlackBerry loyalists. “When I went to visit customers, and these are like the CEOs of top banks, a lot of them pulled out their BlackBerrys and said ‘don’t mess around with these things’,” he said.
But it will also appeal to “people who have touch screens and struggle to compose two sentences that make sense,” he said. “Try it, I think you might like it.”
BlackBerry Classic is available now “through local carriers around the world and online through ShopBlackBerry.com and Amazon.com”.
The company is already taking preorders: the unlocked GSM/WCDMA/LTE device for the US market is priced at $449, with shipping expected to start at the end of December 2014.
In the UK, the device is listed on BlackBerry’s store for £349 unlocked, with shipping expected in mid-January.