With an unusually wide display, the BlackBerry Passport is a new take on the modern smartphone. The phone offers a large, square touchscreen along with a physical keyboard with touch gestures. The phone also includes a 13-megapixel camera with OIS, a 2-megapixel front facing camera, a memory card slot, NFC, and mobile hotspot capabilities. Plus, with a 2.2 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor and 32 GB of internal storage and 3 GB of RAM, the BlackBerry Passport is one of the most high-powered phones on the market.
Most people can probably remember a time when BlackBerry was a heavy player in the smartphone market, especially at the enterprise level. However, as Android, Apple, and Palm (now extinct) platforms made their way onto the scene, BlackBerry slowly receded behind the competition. The ideal smartphone evolved into the slim, touch-screen device that we know today, but BlackBerry failed to align with user demands and standards. BlackBerry now maintains barely any market share at all, and it's currently pulling out all the stops to turn the proverbial tide.
BlackBerry has rolled out a number of handsets in the past that have netted mixed reactions, but the company recently unveiled a new flagship model that is proposed to change the smartphone game forever.
There's no denying that the BlackBerry Passport is intended for both the corporate and individual user. It includes BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Service), BlackBerry Balance, and BlackBerry Blend as part of its feature line-up.
The Passport features a 4.5 inch screen, as well as the recognizable BlackBerry keyboard just below it. This unique design definitely stands out in comparison to the traditional smartphone model.
The handset is size-able in terms of dimensions. It measures a whopping 90.3mm by 128mm. The Passport features a thickness of 9.3mm. Many users that like to use their phones with a single hand will find that this model is virtually too large to do so. It also carries significant weight; it measures at almost 200g.
To get an idea for how big the BlackBerry Passport is, it's useful to consider the dimensions of other handsets. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 measures 153.5mm x 78.6mm x 8.5mm and weighs roughly 176g. The iPhone 6 Plus measures 158.1mm x 77.8mm x 7.1mm and weighs 172g. The Sony Xperia Z3 measures 146mm x 72mm x 7.3mm and weighs 152g.
The screen alone on the BlackBerry Passport is measured to be 81mm x 81mm. The screen features a 1:1 aspect ratio and is rotatable when using certain apps. The keyboard allows users to scroll using a sweeping motion, and it appears to be extremely efficient with testing. For those wondering, the screen is sensitive to touch. Therefore, it can also used for scrolling and tapping.
The screen's resolution measures out at 1440x1440 pixels at 453ppi. Simply put, this combination creates an extremely sharp display of text and images. There are only a few other smartphones available now that are capable of rendering a higher density of pixels. These include the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Motorola/Google Nexus 6, LG G3, and the HTC One. The screen definitely looks impressive from various angles, and the company has expressed on many occasions how effective the device is for viewing maps, editing documents, and viewing spreadsheets.
As for the keyboard, users will find it to be simple in appearance. It only features a key for each letter, a space bar, a backspace key, and an "enter" key. Other buttons used for texting and navigation can be pushed via soft keys. The combination of physical buttons and soft keys seems reasonable, but it was discovered that typing with one hand was an issue.
This problem is heavily noticed when messaging with the BlackBerry Hub. BlackBerry Hub is designed to integrate email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Evernote and other notifications into one spot. While the message list can be retrieved using one hand, responding to any messages requires the use of two hands. There's no doubt that the BlackBerry Hub is a great communication center, but it lacks certain features. For example, BlackBerry Hub appears to support a single Twitter account. For people who work heavily in social media, this is a problem.
There's no doubt that the Passport is designed with the businessperson in mind, and it also aims to enhance his/her home life. One of the features included in BlackBerry 10 OS 10.3 is the option for enterprises to create protected work spaces that allows users to work and engage in personal content and apps at the same time.
For those looking for app downloads, the Amazon Appstore delivers lots of different options. The Blackberry OS fully supports Android apps, and those who want to branch out from the BlackBerry interface will find them helpful. It's good to keep in mind that the Amazon Appstore only contains a percentage of all apps included in the Google Play Store.
The BlackBerry Assistant is BB's "Siri" equivalent, and you'll find that it operates in largely the same way. The software is designed to take spoken queries and commands, and it's also intelligent about responding to written text. Typing out commands is useful in scenarios where you need to use BlackBerry Assistant in quiet places, such as meetings. The search is not limited to the device; it will also search remotely to find what you request. It was found that BlackBerry Assistant saves quite a bit of time, and it's easy to use with a single hand. The service can be activated by tapping the button on the right side of the device. The command is spoken and the Passport responds with various options and features.
BlackBerry Blend, included on the device, will impress office workers for the most part. This service makes important email/SMS messages, documents, and calendar items readily available for other devices in the "blend." Devices running anything from the Android OS to Mac OS X can access content in BlackBerry Blend. This service makes it extremely easy to access files between devices in a seamless way.
As far as the BlackBerry Passport's specifications, it is extremely comparable to other smartphones in the same price range. In fact, the BlackBerry Passport is priced similarly with the App iPhone 6 16GB. The device features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core processor and 3GB of RAM. Start-up times were observed to be a bit slow (comparable to older BlackBerry devices), but the Passport appears to be quickly responsive once it's running.
Along the top side of the device, MicroSD and Nano-SIM slots rest side by side. A panel must be removed to access them. The phone provides for 32GB of storage space, and nearly 25GB is freely usable once after box opening. The included MicroSD adds the possibility of increasing storage space with MicroSD cards. The card reader can accept cards with a maximum of 128GB of storage.
The camera can shoot 13MP photos, and the user can pick from three different aspect ratios: 1:1, 4:3, and 16:9. Certain pictures come out "washed out," but overall, the quality of images is comparable to that of other smartphones. Features that come with the camera app include HDR, geo-tagging, face detection, and the self timer. Users can also take advantage of time shift, panorama, and burst modes. For those that like using scene modes, there are a number to choose from: action, night, auto, whiteboard, and beach/snow. The camera on the front shoots 2MP photos, and it shares all of the same features as the back one.
Battery Life / Performance
One of the BlackBerry Passport's best features is its battery life. A user can realistically talk for 24 hours on a 3G network connection before the phone will ever die. The device utilizes a 3,450mAh battery. The phone can realistically remain on standby for 14.5 days, play audio for a continuous 91 hours, and play video for a continuous 11 hours.
During testing, it was found that the phone can easily run for two days between charges. When on standby, the Passport appeared to lose barely any battery life at all. Even during days of low usage, a little under 1/4 of the battery was drained.
The CPU was assessed with the Geekbench 3 CPU benchmark, and it was found to have similar performance to other current phones such as the iPhone 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S5.
It's predicted that BlackBerry has high hopes for the PassPort; mainly that it will be the company's golden ticket out of the current rut. The phone is being heavily criticized over its sheer size, and many users don't seem to care for its lack of "blingy" features. However, it makes up for these downfalls with a few pluses: the screen is sizable and suitable for productivity and the keyboard is the most functional one we've seen from BlackBerry yet. Business users will appreciate the Balance, BES, Blend, Assistant and Hub features. Arguably, the most positive aspect of the Passport is its battery life
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