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BlackBerry Passport Hands-on, First Impressions: Bringing QWERTY Back

by John Nieves  November 25, 2014

BlackBerry Passport 04

We go hands-on with the BlackBerry Passport!

After being announced a few months ago, BlackBerry’s fairly unique Passport smartphone is now in the PH. The Passport made waves when it was initially announced because of its unique square size, in a mobile landscape dominated by rectangular devices. The Passport is also a smartphone with a unique and innovative QWERTY keyboard and top tier specs, but will it be able to withstand the full Android (and iOS) assault being waged by its competitors?

BlackBerry Passport Specs

  • 2.26GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 4.5-inch IPS display, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 1440 x 1440 resolution
  • 32GB of storage, expandable via microSD up to 128GB
  • 13-megapixel rear camera with AF, OIS and LED flash
  • 2-megapixel front camera
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • 3G, LTE
  • BlackBerry 10.3 OS
  • 3450 mAh battery
  • 128 x 90.3 x 9.3 mm

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Initial Impressions: Great device for gettings things done, but is that enough?

The build quality of the Passport is undeniably premium, and feels extremly good to the hands. The back of the Passport feels a bit rubbery, probably made that way to help you grip its rather large frame. Speaking of grip, the Passport is impossible to use one-handed something that may make or break the device depending on the needs of the customer.

BlackBerry Passport 09

Probably the most unique feature of the Passport is its 4.5-inch square display and accompanying square body. Because of the square display, the passport has a 1:1 aspect ratio, which is quite unique in the market. The unique size and aspect ratio of the Passport isn’t an accident, or a gimmick – it’s been made that way to tailor to a very specific type of customer: people who value productivity above everything else.

BlackBerry Passport 03

The screen resolution is perfect for checking presentations, word documents, excel files and websites. The bigger real-estate allows you to see more of what you’re working on, and browsing sites are a real pleasure. The 4.5-inch IPS 1440 x 1400 display protected by Gorilla Glass 3 and has rather excellent color reproduction and viewing angles.

BlackBerry Passport 02

The other unique feature of the Passport is its QWERTY keyboard, a feature not seen since the Q10. BlackBerry’s tweaked the keyboard a bit this time around, and have since deleted the capacitive pad that was present on their previous devices. Instead, the entire keyboard is now thte capacitive touchpad, allowing you to scroll through websites quickly and easily. When you’re viewing webpages, you can turn the passport to the side and use the keyboard as a scroll bar, which we’ll admit, is a very nice touch.

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The Passport uses BlackBerry OS 10.3. Interestingly, BlackBerry is pre-loading the Amazon app store for Passport for consumer apps, and is moving BlackBerry World to more enterprise-specific apps (or at least, apps that can take advantage of BlackBerry’s improvements built into their OS). The Passport can still download and install Android applications, and can support every other Android app store out there except the official Play Store.

BlackBerry Passport 05

In the PH the Passport retails for a surprising Php 35,790. It’s a rather high price for what amounts to be niche device, but we’ll have to get our hands on it and review it ourselves to be sure. It’ll also be available both through Globe and Smart, though we’ve yet to see the pricing tiers for both telcos.

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