It was February 4th that Adam Doud posted his ‘first impressions’ on the BlackBerry Classic over at Pocketnow. Let’s just say that Adam’s first impressions didn’t go over to well. I spent some times arguing in the comments along with several BlackBerry users. Our own Trev posted about it here at UTB, and did a fine job of it.
I recall from the comments there, that one of Adam’s supporters stated the article was a first impression and not a review, I suppose he meant that we BlackBerry users shouldn’t be concerned with the errors in the post because of this. Oh well, here we are, 8 days later, and Adam returns with his full review. Normally, I’d hope a reviewer would spend at least a couple of weeks with the phone before posting an “in-depth” review of a BlackBerry. Especially when the reviewer “had never carried a BlackBerry” and showed in his first impressions that he had no understanding of it. But here we are, 8 days after his horrifying first impressions, and it appears, some things have changed.
The hardware of this phone is exceptional. The device has a bit of girth and a bit of weight, but it feels great to hold. You don’t mind the heft of the device, because it feels, as Michael said in his video, “important.” The weight belongs there because this is a powerful device – not “powerful” as in top-of-the-line specifications (good God, not even close) – but “powerful” as in it’s a productivity powerhouse in a small package.
It looks like Adam might be on the verge of ‘getting it’. He probably doesn’t realize it, but he’s touched on something that many BlackBerrians already know, that BlackBerry’s power has nothing to do with specs. The Androidians around us prove everyday that having topped out specs have nothing to do with speed and efficiency when actually trying to get stuff done.
The most notable part of the phone, as with almost every other Blackberry, is the keyboard. Physical keyboards are about as “in” as bell-bottoms and pet rocks. The Classic’s keyboard is a fine exception to that rule. Personally, I prefer the HP Pre 3’s physical keyboard in that it combines the right amount of squishiness and clickiness, but the Classic’s keyboard is responsive and surprisingly fast, once you get used to it.
I can understand where Adam is coming from. He started out on Palm. It’s a fond memory. I started out with a BlackBerry Curve, and that Tic-Tac keyboard will always be a favorite to me. I know it’s the very reason why I prefer the Q5 to the Q10.
One of our readers pointed out one keyboard shortcut that Michael failed to mention in his review. Start typing an email address in an email field, and press the spacebar where the “@” is supposed to go, and BlackBerry intelligently puts in an “@” symbol. The same happens with the dot after the domain name. This is life-changing for me on the BlackBerry, and I appreciate the tip.
That was me. And he called me ‘snarky’. And he was right. But at least it was helpful. You’re welcome Adam.
The display on the BlackBerry is small. It is a 3.5-inch square with a resolution of 720 x 720. Some will point at the screen as a failing. I see it as simply the reality of having a BlackBerry physical keyboard present. It’s small, sure, but not so small as to diminish the experience. Scrolling exists for a reason, and the BlackBerry makes it even easier with the space bar shortcut key. Other than that, the screen is not remarkable.
Again, I understand this, even if I don’t agree with it. There are several here at UTB that just can’t wait to see the next full touch BlackBerry arrive, because of the screen size. Personally, I don’t see me ever going back to full touch. As a primary phone, I’ve gone full touch once in my life, and that was the BlackBerry Z10. And I loved it. But the screen size for me, simply isn’t worth giving up the BlackBerry physical keyboard. And Adam has obviously actually used the phone this time, as he now sees that the smaller square screen isn’t quite the problem that most detractors say it is.
The software on the BlackBerry is also very well done. Far and away the most famous feature of BlackBerry OS 10 is the BlackBerry Hub. This is your one-stop shop for all things communication on your phone. I had five email accounts, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, iGrann, and probably a few other accounts that I’m forgetting to list, yet the Hub doesn’t miss a beat with any of it. At first I wasn’t sure about it. Now it’s growing on me. I still like to have my life compartmentalized, however I no longer object to having everything in one place. I mean, I know you can customize the Hub to only display certain things, but isn’t that missing the point?
Wow what a difference 8 days make! In his last post, Adam said “The software for the BlackBerry is very distinct, and not all in a good way”. Adam has just proved a point that BlackBerry users try to make on almost every negative review. And that is if the reviewers would actually give the BlackBerry devices a try, there reviews would be much different. And here we see it. The initial review, after a quick run through of the Classic, left Adam very negative. Actually using the device, seems to have won Adam over.
With the Voice Assistant, you can compose an email. Sure, any service can do that, but you get granular control over the composition. You can change recipients, add or change the subject of an email, and add or change the message of an email, all with your voice. That kind of control is awesome. You can actually write a full and proper email with the power of your voice. Maybe I’m geeking-out here a bit too much, but I found it to be absolutely fabulous, and I will miss that part of it.
In this case, Adam seems to have really spent some time with the BlackBerry Assistant. Quite honestly, probably more time than I have. I tend to use assistant to send quick text messages and e-mails while driving, which I’m able to do hands free thanks to the power of BlackBerry and the Bluetooth in my car. But this aspect of BB10 seems to have really won over Adam.
Then of course, there’s a downside to the software. We’re going to breeze over this section because it has already been said, over and over (and over and over): the app selection sucks. Yes, there is the Amazon App Store. Yes, you can side load Android APKs. Yes, you can even install Google Play and buy all the apps you want directly. But to do so, you have to use a fair amount of hackery, and a little Googling to find out how. Again, I thank the commenters from my first impressions editorial.
Again with the apps. Apps apps apps. Always apps. As Trev pointed out, in terms of quantity, BlackBerry 10 now has more apps available to run on it than Adam’s choice platform of Window’s Phone. Are there missing apps? Sure. Are there big name missing apps? Yes there are. Will those apps run on BlackBerry 10? Yes they will. But thanks to the powers that be at Netflix, Snapchat, and Instagram, those apps are not in our app stores. But Adam figured out how to get them it seems, I suppose in this case, arguing in comments was actually helpful.
In the end, I’m guessing Adam probably won’t be switching over to BlackBerry. Not now anyway. He see’s the Classic for what it is. A device that was aimed at a specific group of people. Actually, a few specific groups of people. Those BBOS users that haven’t moved on to BlackBerry 10 yet, those former BBOS users that want to come back to what they remembered, and those of us that have moved on to Z’s and Q’s and have seen the Classic in action and have realized that we missed that toolbelt! But the Classic has done something else that I don’t think it was planned to do. It has changed the mind of someone that already had their mind made up about BlackBerry 10. What I’d like to see now, is Adam to use a Z30 for another 8 days. Something tells me he may just make the permanent switch to BlackBerry with a nice full touch Z30.