BlackBerry Passport hands on review: treat for physical keyboard lovers

BlackBerry Passport is company’s new flagship. The device has a powerful hardware, a slew of clever features, and a great foundation in BlackBerry OS 10.3.

BlackBerry has always been known for its hardware QWERTY keyboards. BlackBerry says the Passport will put it back in the fight, back in the boardroom, and back in the jacket pocket of a Brooks Brothers suit. But for more than one reason, there might not be room in there for the Passport.

BlackBerry-Passport

The company is also sure that the new form factor will suit the business customers. The company says the screen will incorporate 60 characters in a line, compared to the 40 on an average rectangular smartphone.

Is the BlackBerry Passport worth buying? Can it compete with the recent smarphones in the market? Lets check out in our review of the BlackBerry Passport.

PROS

  • Excellent keyboard
  • Long lasting battery life
  • Brilliant outdoor visibillity
  • Solid construction and build quality

CONS

  • Difficult to use with one hand
  • Awkward shape and size
  • Not media friendly
  • Clumsy software

VIDEO REVIEW

DESIGN

The most talked about feature in the BlackBerry Passport is its awkward design. The 4.5-inch BlackBerry Passport is about the same size and shape as a US passport.

However the phone has a solid construction and build quality. It’s a square shaped phone and has no portrait or landscape mode.

All the ports and buttons are placed along the stainless steel frame. They include the power button, 3.5mm headset jack, microUSB 2.0 port, left & right speakers, microphone, volume control.

BlackBerry-Passport

It also has a quick key button placed in between the volume control that acts as a pause/play function, as well launching BlackBerry Assistant with a long press.

The rear cover is removable made of soft-touch plastic and users can access its nano SIM and microSD card slots, but the battery is non removable.

The front face is all shiny glass, and the keyboard has BlackBerry’s trademark silver lines between each row.

DISPLAY

The Passport sports a 4.5 inch 1440 x 1440 IPS LCD display, which is the sharpest resolution among BlackBerry devices.

The display is touted as being 30 percent wider than average 5-inch smartphones with the capacity to show 60 characters across while most devices show 40 characters across the display.

It’s easy to use spreadsheets, read eBooks, browse web pages, manage communications in the Hub, and more with the wide display.

BlackBerry-Passport

The screen shows some high quality elements as it produces a maximum brightness output of 894 nits, which makes it extremely visible outdoors with the sun present.

Movies are well reproduced on the 1440 x 1400 screen, because of the 453 pixel density. But there will be the letterbox lines that appear on the top and bottom of the screen.

USER INTERFACE

BlackBerry Passport uses the BlackBerry 10.3 OS, the latest version of its BB 10 platform. The OS is focused around BlackBerry Hub that compiles all users notifications from various email and social network accounts.

By swiping the screen to the right, it takes user to open apps screen and a second right swipe takes user to the grid layout for app shortcuts.

Active Frames panel, and BlackBerry Hub are all connected together in the homescreen. BlackBerry Assistant manages to be a great addition in helping to keep us organized, as it works similarly to other voice assistant services.

The full Amazon Appstore are available to use on the Passport, it has around 250,000 apps. There is also BlackBerry World, which is the company’s own app store with content that, is aimed towards the business user.

The Passport is not very good at supporting third party apps , many popular Android apps can be downloaded, but the majority of them do not run properly.

CAMERA

BlackBerry phones usually do not boast a great camera, but the Passport surprisingly has a good 13MP camera with optical image stabilization and LED flash.

The camera can take images at 16:9, 4.3 and the Passport’s own 1:1 aspect ratio. Full HD 1080p video is also supported.

Users will be able to get video calling at 720p with Passport’s 2MP front camera. BlackBerry has built optical image stabilisation (OIS) into the Passport’s camera to eliminate judders.

Users can also make a slide show of their pictures and videos using the story mode and also add music to the slideshow.

The camera also has shooting modes such as panoramic, burst, time shift, and HDR modes.

THE KEYBOARD

BlackBerry is known for having the best QWERTY keyboards and with Passport the company continues to do so.

Passport has the finest hardware keyboard ever created for a mobile device.

Using the keyboard is a really good experience – there is a decent travel on the keys and each button is backlit so you can type away in the dark.

The keyboard has touch functionality built into it so a swift double-tap activates a bubble-like cursor that you can use to scan your message or email.

BlackBerry-Passport

Users can swipe their finger over the keyboard to place the cursor in a specific spot, which is a lot more intuitive than other touchscreen-only implementations.

Also its enhanced predictive text feature allows users to swipe up from the left, center, or right areas of the keyboard to select a specific predictive word.

UNDER THE HOOD

The Passport is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Krait 400 processor paired with 3GB RAM and Adreno 330 GPU.

The internal storage of the device is 32GB which can be further extended to 128GB via microSD card.

On the connectivity front it has Bluetooth 4.0 LE, NFC, Wi-Fi and LTE in terms of wireless and a single physical microUSB port. BlackBerry provides a SlimPort HDMI adaptor that plugs into the port and lets user hook the Passport up to a monitor or TV.

Multitasking on the phone works well, due to 3GB and the tiled homescreen that shows currently running apps lets user quickly dive in and out of active programs.

Battery is also been BlackBerry’s strength over the years, the Passport has a 3450 mAh battery.

WRAP UP

The BlackBerry Passport has enough under the hood to challenge any other smartphone available in the market. It can be considered as the best Blackberry 10 smartphone so far.

BlackBerry-Passport

Priced at Rs 49,000 the Passport has a lot to offer mainly to the work enthusiasts. BlackBerry calls them “Power Pros”.

You may not be thinking to buy it over iPhone 6 or HTC One M8 to take pictures, play games or watch movies but if you need a phone for work-based emails and need to edit or compile reports, the 1:1 HD screen and physical keyboard are a good choice.

BlackBerry has created a device for the physical keyboard fanatic who is willing to choose productivity over comfort.

Vishal Kawadkar
editor@gizmolead.com

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