BlackBerry. Back in 2009 the name meant phones, security and success. If you wanted a smartphone, you only had one real option – a BlackBerry. Fast forward to 2014, however, and Canada’s biggest export since double-denim, following two years of lay-offs, tanking share prices and CEO switches, has come to stand for something else entirely. So much so, in fact, that BlackBerry is now an outsider (fourth, behind iOS, Android and Windows Phone) in the very industry it helped create.
That’s an odd way to begin a review. But to give BlackBerry’s latest handset, the Passport, as thorough a review as possible, I decided to type the entire thing from the phone itself. My twisted idea came from a realization that this (mostly) square oddity is the first phone with a physical keyboard that I’ve used since the Motorola Droid 4 in 2012 or the BlackBerry Q10 in 2013. It’s not even a normal keyboard by modern smartphone standards — it’s a flattened, hybrid setup with both physical and virtual elements and a curiously placed space bar. Needless to say, it’s an odd device, one that truly deserves the ultimate test: Can I use it to crank out several thousand words of text?
The BlackBerry Passport is big –– very BIG –– it’s square AND it has a physical keyboard, which also doubles as a trackpad for scrolling around menus, apps and webpages. And all of that has caused a lot of people to write the handset off as nothing more than a mobile version of a bearded lady, labelling it a freak that’s kind of interesting but hardly convenient in normal, everyday life. But here’s the thing: this sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth.
Blackberry Passport Full Specification
Operating System: Blackberry 10. Camera: 13MP. Screen: IPS, capacitive, Corning Gorilla Glass 3 touchscreen. Memory: RAM 3G/ Internal: 32GB. Battery: 3450mAh Lion battery. SIM: Nano SIM. Network: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 19003G Network: HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 21004G. Network: LTE 850 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600LTE 700/800/850/900/1700/1800/1900/2100/2600. Body Dimensions: 128 x 90.3 x 9.3 mm, 194 grams (5.04 x 3.56 x 0.37 inches, 6.84 ounce). Keyboard: Touchscreen, QWERTY keyboard. Colors: Black. Cover: Plastic. Size: 4.5 inches, 1440 x 1440 pixels, 459 pixels per inch.
Memory And OS Card slot: MicroSD, up to 128GB. Internal: 32GB. Processors: 2.2GHz quadcore Krait 400 CPU, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Chipset, Adreno 330 GPURAM: 3GB. Audio Alert types: Vibration, MP3 ringtones. Loudspeaker: Yes. Audio port: 3.5mm jack. Connectivity 2G: GPRS – up to 85.6 kbps; EDGE – up to 236.8 kbps. 3G: Up to 42.2 mbps downlink; Up to 5.76 mbps uplink. 4G: Up to 150 mbps downlink; Up to 50 mbps uplink. WIFI: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
- Keyboard doubles as touchpad
- Long battery life
- Fantastic outdoor visibility
- Good camera
- Robust build
- Don’t even try using it one-handed
- Keyboard is difficult to get used to
- Awkward size and shape
- App selection is better now, but still needs some work
- Occasional hiccups in performance
The Passport is the best BlackBerry 10 device you can buy, and comes with a number of flagship-caliber specs. But its odd shape and size, as well as its weird keyboard, may be a turnoff for many.