Remember that weird-looking device thing BlackBerry showed us last July? Back then I said the BlackBerry Passport was “proof that the company has gone nuts.” I still stand by what I said, as this is one nutty device, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, a little crazy is never bad.
Some say the BlackBerry Passport is the company’s last gasp of air before dying. Is it? We got some hands-on time with the Passport and must say we walked away with mixed feelings. While the form-factor is a bit odd, the device has some features and characteristics that make it unique.
BlackBerry is not the first to attempt a larger, wider screen ratio. We have seen the LG Vu take rounds across the hall of shame, and we must say BlackBerry did do a better job with this 1:1 screen ratio. We are not sure it will help BlackBerry take its honorable place in the market, but it will sure turn some faces.
BlackBerry Passport specs
- 4.5-inch 1440x1440p display
- 2.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor
- 3 GB of RAM
- 32 GB of internal storage (microSD support for up to 64 GB)
- 13 MP rear-facing camera (f/1.8)
- 2 MP front-facing camera
- 3450 mAh battery
My first impression after holding this phone was: “DAMN, this is crazy!”. Once you move past the shock phase you will realize this is actually a very solidly built device. It’s mostly made of plastic, but it all fits very snug together and the keys are as good as we remember BlackBerry keyboards to be.
The wide screen also has its purposes. Engineers wanted to make this a very productive smartphone. This means you would be viewing websites and reading texts for longer periods of time (as opposed to watching movies). The square display makes these tasks much easier to perform.
The keyboard is also touch sensitive, which is about the funnest feature I saw in my quick encounter with the Passport. When in landscape mode, one can actually scroll up and down by dragging your finger over the keyboard.
Otherwise, the phone works just like any other Blackberry device would. It runs on BlackBerry OS 10.3, so you know what to expect.
Price is set at $599 off-contract or $249 on-contract. It’s available today in 5 countries, including the US, France, Gemany, the UK and Canada. It should be released in a total of 30 countries by the end of the year. You can get it off-contract from the online BlackBerry store, or wait until it comes to your carrier.
Who is signing up for one of these? I may try it for a while. It’s a monstrosity, but I kinda like it.