BlackBerry has spent the last three years restructuring. The outcome of all that shuffling is a new smartphone released by BlackBerry this week called the Passport.
Unlike the phones that tried to compete with Apple’s iPhone and failed miserably, the Passport brings BlackBerry back to its former roots. The company is, once again, concentrating on smartphones that were made and built for business.
The Passport Design
This smartphone is big. It’s also really square. So, it’s a big and square smartphone that’s huge in size and makes no effort to hide. At 5.03-inches tall and 3.55 inches wide, this phone is really hard to miss. It’s also a phone that’s solely focused on productivity, and on making it much easier for businesspeople to get everyday tasks done. The problem with a phone of this size and weight (it’s much heavier than an iPhone, by the way) is that it’s awkward to hold, use, and multi-task with.
This isn’t a phone that you will want to slip inside of your pocket (and it probably won’t fit), and it’s not a phone that you can easily use with one hand. On the plus side, it is a seriously rugged phone with a frame that just feels sturdy. This isn’t a phone that’s going to bend if you put it in your pocket, and it’s not one that will easily drop either. BlackBerry is banking on the fact that the Passport will stay intact no matter what you throw at it.
There’s a reason why BlackBerry went with such a strange size and shape, and it has to do with this phone’s display. The Passport comes with a high-resolution, 4.5-inch, 1,440 x 1,440 pixel IPS LCD display. Why such a big screen and great display? The Passport was built so you can read things like spreadsheets and clearly view emails. This is not a phone that was made for the app world, it was made for business purposes, and that’s why the Passport might just work out for BlackBerry.
Here’s what might get you really excited if you miss the old BlackBerry models. The Passport comes with a physical keyboard. You won’t find a virtual keyboard with this phone, and that’s welcome news to anyone that loves the old design. But, some reviewers have noted that the Passport keyboard feels awkward, and the company has split the keyboard in a strange way, so you may not be as comfortable using this keyboard as you were with BlackBerry keyboards past.
The Passport runs on BlackBerry 10.3, which is a slight upgrade from BlackBerry 10. 10.3 runs mostly based on something that BlackBerry calls “The Hub,” which is really a central notification center for everything from emails to Tweets. Basically, you can access the Hub, and get all the notifications that you want and need in one quick place. The idea is a good one, but there is a slight learning curve.
If you want a sturdier phone that’s also a strict business tool, the Passport might be a good option, but it is much larger than most phones you’re probably used to. The Passport retails for $249.