BlackBerry Goes Back To The Future With Launch Of $449 Classic Smartphone

If you’re ready to party like it’s 2008, BlackBerry has a smartphone that is right up your alley. We already brought you news earlier this week that pre-orders for the Classic went though the roof, with the initial North American allotment selling out, but BlackBerry today is officially launching the device.

If the Passport was a whacky, unorthodox take on the modern smartphone, the BlackBerry Classic is simply a time machine to the past. “BlackBerry Classic is the powerful communications tool that many BlackBerry Bold and Curve users have been waiting for,” said BlackBerry CEO John Chen. “It’s the secure device that feels familiar in their hands, with the added performance and agility they need to be competitive in today’s busy world.”

Classic clack front

The company points to key upgrades compared to the BlackBerry Bold 9900 that include a faster browser, 60 percent great screen real estate, and 50 percent longer battery life.

Powering the Classic is a 2012-era 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 2GB of RAM, which is quite a step down from the 2.2GHz Snapdragon 801 in the Passport. The tiny 3.5” screen has a screen resolution of 720x720, which is one inch smaller than the 4.5” 1440x1440 display on the Passport.

Other features include 16GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD), an 8MP rear camera and a 2MP front-facing camera. And we of course can’t forget the built-in QWERTY keyboard below the screen — a throwback to the BlackBerry’s glory days atop the smartphone leaderboards.

Whereas the BlackBerry Bold 9900 series ran BlackBerry OS 7, the new Classic is running BlackBerry 10 OS 10.3.1, which put it right on part with the Blackberry Passport. That means you’ll have full access to the BlackBerry Blend, BlackBerry Assistant, BlackBerry Hub and full access to both the BlackBerry World and Amazon Appstore app storefronts.

Classic Front 2

“This device underscores our commitment to helping BlackBerry users be at their most productive and respond to the demands of business from anywhere, at any time,” said BlackBerry CEO Chen. “By bringing back the trusted functionalities, incorporating our latest operating system and building a speedier browser, our users can feel confident they are using the best communications tool out there.”

To us, it just seems more of the same, and not enough to boost BlackBerry’s global smartphone market share from its current, dismal 0.5 percent. Perhaps BlackBerry will nab quite a few of the BlackBerry faithful (at witnessed by the pre-order sellouts), but I just don’t see users of Apple iPhones or Samsung Galaxies tossing their smartphones aside to even give Blackberry a fighting change to survive in this cutthroat market.

The BlackBerry Classic will be available from AT&T and Verizon Wireless early next year. You can also purchase it unlocked from the BlackBerry's online store for $449.