NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The new BlackBerry (BBRY) Classic is aptly named. It is the ultimate, secure email-centric device/smartphone. The latest in the company's long heritage of secure email devices. It's a terrific handset in many ways. Just don't expect it to be something that it's not. The Classic is an email device that's also a smartphone. Apple (AAPL) iPhones and Google (GOOG) Androids are smartphones that handle email. It's a subtle but important distinction.
BlackBerry isn't trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. The Classic was designed to replace its still popular (in some circles) but now very long-in-the-tooth Bold 9900 and even older smartphones that "CrackBerry" loyalists refuse to retire. As the story goes, when John Chen took over as CEO a year ago he wondered why requests by rabid fans for a new "classic" device were being ignored. He promptly ordered the development of this new phone.
Long-time BlackBerry fans won't be disappointed. The Classic rewards users with a square, 3.5-inch, 720 by 720 pixels (294 pixels-per-inch) HD touchscreen on top and the company's famous 4-row, 40-button, QWERTY keyboard below. Separating the two halves is a narrow row of navigation buttons and a tiny, touch-sensitive, trackpad pointing device.
Inside there's a 1.5 GHz, dual-core Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage (expandable to 128 GB with an optional microSD card). There's an 8 megapixel camera on the back and a 2 MP shooter facing forward. There's Wi-fi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC and a micro USB port. It measures 5.2 by 2.9 by 0.40 inches and weighs-in at a solid 6.24 ounces. AT&T (T) retail stores will carry the GSM version of the Classic. Our unlocked GSM test sample ($449) also worked perfectly using a T-Mobile (TMUS) SIM card. Verizon (VZ) will have a model designed for its network in the new year.