An Argument For Buying the BlackBerry Classic

The Passport is the best! No, the Classic is the best!

I guess, I might have gotten more clicks if I used “Why the Classic is Better than the Passport” as my title, but that just feels disingenuous cause from what I know, I really like both devices. However, some chatting in a BBM group cemented my motive to offer my thoughts to everyone on why I’m 95% sure the Classic will be my next BBRY device. It has been my experience that arguing over the virtues of the Classic or even PKB vs VKB can get as heated as a discussion on politics or religion. It seems many BBRY fans are afraid of the Classic a little, I believe,  because they don’t want to associate with the BBRY that suffered dwindling market share and financial woes in the years preceding BB10. These folks seem to believe the Classic harkens back to a time we’d all rather forget. But I really think there’s more going on.

Work Vs Play Two Way Street Signs Time Off Fun Recreation

I can’t say for sure, because I don’t have access to BBRY executives or internal marketing materials, but it seems safe to assume that BBRY users can be divided into two primary groups: 1) those that are concerned with productivity first, whom might see their device primarily as a business/work device, and 2) those that are interested in media/entertainment first, whom may not use their device at work very much. Undoubtedly, all BBRY users are interested in both productivity and entertainment, but I think it’s obvious, one of those values or categories tends to drive the use of BBRY mobile devices, over the other, and therefore drives purchasing decisions. It’s also safe to say that many users from both categories are concerned with their privacy and the security of their data and location.

Classic in hand2
Awesome!!! Woot!!!

I think the forthcoming Classic may epitomize the “spirit” of BlackBerry, or the brand, better than any other device. Maybe this is a grandiose statement; maybe I should back off a bit and simply say, I believe the Classic on BB10.3,  will fulfill the promise of BBRY ownership better than any other device; FOR ME.

I love my Q10. I have the Z10 and Z30 as well and generally swap the SIM from the Q10 to the Z30 (Both with pretty much weekly and keep my Z10 in the car for music. I use Link to do backup and restores so I don’t lose anything, which does take a little time, but on weekends I generally have the Z30 and weekdays, I use the Q10.  I love all three devices, however, if I had to chose one, it would be the Q10. The reason is I guess, because I value productivity and efficiency over media and entertainment and I’m willing to give up the screen real estate. It doesn’t mean I’m necessarily more productive, it just means, productivity and efficiency are more important to me. I went to BB10 from my Bold 9900 because I wanted the faster web browser and access to a platform that promised more apps. The Classic will be my Bold all over again, only with all the goodness of BB10, which has been getting significantly better with each version and is awesome with 10.3. Here’s why the Classic has my attention.


1) PKB. The BBRY physical keyboard on the Bold and now Q10 is absolutely the best typing experience of any mobile device ever. The only device that comes close was the Palm Centro. I can hammer away 15oo words-plus on this keyboard without thinking about it, all while my thumbs work furiously using “muscle memory” as my eyes watch the screen much as I would do on a PC keyboard. It’s not just the ability to type fast without looking, it’s the use of all the built-in keyboard shortcuts as well. I can scroll web pages and SMS or BBM threads  by using the spacebar, go to the top or bottom of a web page or thread in BBM or SMS by using “T” or “B” keys, view a page in reader mode by hitting alt-“R,” search a page of content by using alt-“S,” perform a universal search from my home screen just by starting to type, search for a contact in my contacts app the same way, etc. etc. I haven’t really even learned all the shortcuts, but those are some of the useful ones. The shortcuts are something you learn to use, and once you get into the habit, they become super cool and very efficient.

Classic in hand
Everything is zip, bang, boom!!!

2) The form factor. I love my Z30, but it’s too big for my daily driver. I know plenty of people use the Z30, and it’s an awesome device, but it’s cumbersome compared to my Q10. The Q10 is almost the ideal size, I believe it could be just a little bit taller, maybe a half inch or so, and still be excellent, but you can really use the device with one hand with minimal adjustment, meaning, you don’t have to adjust your grip to reach the entire screen or keyboard. When you are on the go and out of the office, using your phone with one hand becomes important. Having said this, I think with all devices, PKB or VKB, there are really two grips, one for when you’re vigorously typing and one for when you’re either surfing, selecting apps, or just doing moderate short messages on BBM and swiping words.

In any event, the size of the Q10 allows for any and all functionality to be done very easily with one hand. It also fits nicely in the pocket and is easy in and out of whatever pocket you have or place you might keep it, and it’s not cumbersome to wear on your belt in a holster if you want to take advantage of the magnet actuated, out of holster wake-up that BBRY offers. Finally, it is not big when I put it in my windshield mount on the dashboard of my car. (Unlike the Z10 or Z30, it also has the USB charging port located higher up on the side, allowing me to charge it in the mount I have, although I can’t make a big deal of that.) I understand the Classic will be bigger than my Q10, and even Z10, but smaller than the Z30, and I expect it will be the ideal size as, I said earlier, the Q10 could be a little bigger.

Just a big bigger than the Q10…

Another aspect of the form factor I will enjoy is the 1:1 screen ratio. Again, this is another thing that productivity oriented people may like that media oriented people might not. On a 1:1 ratio screen, pictures you take never have to be edited to fit your screen. This may seem silly, but here’s how it works for me. On all my devices I have Wallpaper Changer HD loaded and have about 50 gorgeous nature pictures that alternate every 15 minutes. ON my Q10, I get a very nice resolution and regardless of where the pic came from, it always looks crisp. On the Z30, some of the pics are out of whack, they are cropped and magnified out of focus. Also, while looking at pictures or video on my Q10, I never have to re-orient the phone. On my Z30, I typically like to have the screen rotation lock on so I have to adjust this in order to turn the screen sideways and enjoy the speakers and big screen. This effect also applies when I scroll through pictures in my albums. I go to car shows and fairly liberally take photos of cool cars; when I scroll later, sometimes I have to fiddle with the orientation of the picture in order to make it match the others. Sometimes this involves again, having to turn the rotation lock off; it’s a little clumsy.

Absolutely gorgeous. The belt rocks!

3) The belt. The Classic will have the belt of physical keys that control making or ending a call, the trackpad, back button, and menu button, just like the Bold. These physical keys are awesome to have for someone concerned for productivity more than entertainment. If you use your phone as your primary device for work, you have probably been on conference calls over bluetooth or speakerphone as you took handwritten notes or looked at an email, document, or Remember memo on your phone. In these cases, you had the phone app minimized. Being able to hang up the phone with a hard key that is easily accessed rather than minimize your current app, open the phone app and hit the end key is something I am looking forward to. This may be particularly useful when you’re running a conference call from your device. I imagine conference calls may be a bit easier if you are on the go and using one hand, but I don’t know for sure. It will be interesting to see how the menu button comes into play, that is, will it be programmable at all, or will it always open the settings, or some other screen. In any event, being able to use the hard keys without glancing down will be great and another little aspect making the device more efficient. But the jewel of the belt is the trackpad. The BBRY trackpad is awesome. I’m not afraid to say it. It’s a super ingenious feature for placing your cursor on a screen of text to type or select text when editing or creating emails, documents, memos, etc. When filling out forms online, it is second to none. It is also an awesome way to navigate a webpage without touching the screen, or move through screens of apps on your device and select one. I suspect the Classic will allow you to set the sensitivity of the trackpad as I could do on the Bold.

In Chen we trust, all others can pound sand!

The last point I will offer in favor of the Classic is that BBRY produced this device with John Chen at the helm. When you go to the track to bet the horses, you always consider the jockey. Chen has my complete confidence, and frankly, I am not an armchair CEO and don’t pretend to be able to second guess him on too many issues. The point is I believe he sees a market for this device. Whether these people are only those that will not move off the Bold otherwise, or, just people like myself who are productivity oriented and are willing to give up screen size in order to gain a physical keyboard and other hard keys including the trackpad, I frankly don’t know and haven’t heard Chen comment on it to know for sure. Either way though, it’s a circular argument; people who love the Bold like the functionality of the form factor, including the “belt,” and they’re probably like me, productivity-oriented (and exceedingly handsome and trustworthy).

Last comment of this post is that BBRY has a whole lineup of devices that range the cost spectrum and the feature/form factor spectrum that all run the most secure, efficient OS on the market. This is a benefit, not a problem. I’m getting very excited about the Classic as I hear more and more about the specs and the design and I fully expect it to be my next BlackBerry.

james pisano

RIM/BB fan since 2009. Wouldn't consider entrusting my career, life or privacy to another platform. Foremost, I am a student of life. Some likes: longboarding, nature, Baltimore Orioles, technology, driving, music, reading and Taoism. Politically independent.