First Look: BlackBerry Passport
BlackBerry does an about-face, back towards its enterprise roots.
So BB 10 didn’t work out so well, did it?
Which helps explain why, with the new Passport smartphone, BlackBerry is ditching the years-late emphasis on competing for consumers and refocusing on the enterprise users on which the company was built. The Passport is uniquely focused on being a device for work first and personal stuff second – take a look at how it’s turned out.
It’s hip to be square
We’re just not used to square screens anymore, are we? I think the last one I used was on a flip-phone, circa about 2005. So in a sense, BlackBerry’s not putting the Passport in great company there. Given that this screen is 4.5 inches and boasts 1440×1440 resolution, though, it’s probably OK.
Big in Canada
It’s a big device, there’s no getting around that – as the name suggests, it’s the size of a U.S. passport. That said, it’s no more outsized than other recently released phablets like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or the iPhone 6 Plus.
Of course it has a keyboard
It’s a new design, and it incorporates some intriguing touchpad functionality, like swiping to select auto-suggest entries. And it’s a business-focused BlackBerry device – of course it has a physical keyboard.
A voice search thingy!
One of many catch-up boxes checked by the Passport, the new voice search functionality appears to work more or less the same way as Siri/Cortana/Google Voice search, et al.
The impressive BlackBerry Blend system provides an app that can run on other mobile devices, as well as on desktops and laptops, that brings files and messages from the Passport to whichever device you happen to be using at the time, and segregates them into personal and enterprise spaces.
BlackBerry bolsters its own somewhat limited app offerings with access to the Amazon App Store, which provides a larger selection of Android apps for use on the Passport.
Under the hood
The Passport’s specs bring it into line with the latest Androids and iPhones – a 2.2GHz, quad-core Snapdragon processor, 3GB of RAM, a 13MP camera with optical image stabilization and 32GB of on-board storage, with a microSD slot for expandability. It’s also got a big 3450 mAh battery, which BlackBerry was eager to talk up.
The Passport goes on sale tomorrow from Amazon and BlackBerry directly, for $600 unlocked. It’ll be available on-contract from as-yet unspecified carriers for about $250, BlackBerry said.
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