There was a period when the name of BlackBerry was absolutely essential to the smartphone industry. At one time even using the word BlackBerry Ltd was more likely to make people think of the iconic smartphone than the common-or-garden fruit. But times changed with the introduction of the iPhone, and the prominence of BlackBerry as a corporation has diminished rapidly. Today they find themselves attempting to cling onto the coattails of massive consumer electronics brands such as Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, even though they have retained a significant share of the corporate market.
But they are not completely out of the smartphone race just yet, and have just announced the release of their latest handset, the BlackBerry Classic. This mobile is forced to compete with the likes of the Apple iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S5, so how does it stack up against the two industry-leading smartphones?
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The BlackBerry Classic greatly resembles the BlackBerry Bold 9900, but features a larger touchscreen. Of course, the most notable physical feature of the BlackBerry is always its trademark keyboard, and the qwerty device is still very much in place here. It’s certainly not an unattractive design, but it perhaps looks a little dated next to the sheeny magnificence of the iPhone 6. The Galaxy S5 features a rectangular design which is not to everyone’s taste, but it has been fairly well critically received compare to previous iterations of the series.
As ValueWalk was discussing last week, Steve Jobs once asserted that the ideal screen size for a smartphone is 3.5-inches. Of course, this sort of relatively small display is hardly in vogue at the moment, but this is precisely the screen size that the BlackBerry Classic offers. With its 720 x 720 resolution, it produces a respectable ~294 ppi pixel density. It is fair to say this is not a device for people that like to watch videos on their smartphone on a regular basis.
Both the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6 offer higher pixel density, much larger screens, and superior resolution. In particular, the Galaxy S5 with its 5.1-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 full HD Super AMOLED touchscreen greatly dwarfs the BlackBerry Classic in terms of quality, and both the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S5 would be superior choices for people that really want a quality, modern display included in their smartphone.
The BlackBerry Classic isn’t shifting the sort of images and picture quality around its screen that the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6 have to deal with, and also benefits from its proprietary operating system. So the processor included in the BlackBerry Classic is notably weaker than the Galaxy S5, with this new BlackBerry device running off a Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait.
Samsung always arms its devices with extremely powerful processors, and the Galaxy S5 is no exception to this rule. With its 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Krait, it is probably the most powerful smartphone on the market, while years of development has ensured that Apple delivers an incredibly slick smartphone experience. In this sense the BlackBerry Classic doesn’t deliver the same quality as the market’s two leading smartphones.
BlackBerry handsets certainly aren’t associated with their photographic capabilities, so it is something of a pleasant surprise that a decent snapper has been included in this new BlackBerry Classic device. The 8-megapixel lens, which produces a resolution of 3,264 x 2,448 pixels produces some pretty nifty pictures. However, unlike both the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S5, there is no optical image stabilization here.
The Galaxy S5 has been lauded for the quality of its camera, with the smartphone featuring a 16-megapixel device. The iPhone 6 takes outstanding photographs in low-light conditions, and additionally its optical image stabilization system has been particularly praised, as has its video recording capabilities. While one can’t really expect the BlackBerry Classic to deliver the same quality of pictures as either the Samsung or Apple devices, it does a more than sufficient job for office purposes.
The BlackBerry Classic actually has more internal memory (2GB) than the iPhone 6, and marginally less than the Samsung Galaxy S5. But it has been armed with enough internal memory to ensure that its operation is extremely fast, particularly as the smartphone doesn’t produce the level of resolution and image quality that its competitors must contend with.
The BlackBerry Classic delivers excellent storage specifications. In fact, the manufacturers have ensured that the BlackBerry Classic can compete with any smartphone on the market in the storage department. The BlackBerry Classic can be ramped up to 128GB of storage via micro-SD functionality. This is a pretty good level of storage for a device which is seen primarily as an enterprise-related handset.
Neither the iPhone 6 or Galaxy S5 offers a superior product in this department. The iPhone 6 does offer its 128GB storage without the need to upgrade via micro-SD, but it is not currently possible to acquire a roomier iPhone than this. The Galaxy S5 is very similarly endowed to the BlackBerry Classic, so BlackBerry can be praised for their efforts to deliver a flexible device in this area.
Similar to the iPhone 6, BlackBerry benefits from its own propriety operating system; BlackBerry 10 OS 10.3.1. This means that the device runs most slickly than the Galaxy S5, which is reliant on the latest Android L operating system.
The BlackBerry Classic remains a smartphone which is very much aimed at a corporate audience. It lacks some of the frills that we have become accustomed to with Apple and Samsung handsets. What it does provide is an outstanding telephoning and message sending smartphone, with the keyboard included still likely to curry favour with many users. However, it doesn’t stand up to either the iPhone 6 or the Galaxy S5 as a multimedia device.