The BlackBerry Passport is getting a lot of press. Rightfully so, it is new, and it is different. It is BlackBerry, so everyone in the world has an opinion about what they should be doing to “regain the glory” they once had. I’ve never understood this “regain the glory” bit as BlackBerry has more users now than it did in its “glory days”. But, that makes for a separate editorial, I’m here to talk about the BlackBerry Passport.
On June 19th BlackBerry held an Annual Special Meeting, as they do each year, board members are voted in, and discussions about the business and financials happen. What doesn’t normally happen is the introduction of new products. During the meeting BlackBerry’s CEO, John Chen, addressed the room as he spoke about the BlackBerry Passport. Those of us who avidly follow BlackBerry news thought Chen just slipped up on the Windermere’s production name. Not exactly, Chen was prepping us for the slide that soon followed.
Behold the BlackBerry Classic, and BlackBerry Passport. Chen asked of the audience who has a BlackBerry Passport? Two devices emerged from the crowd for Chen to show off. Before this, I was pretty meh about the BlackBerry ‘Windermere’ Passport. I have a BlackBerry Q10, and I do like it. I knew of the Classic coming soon and that was planned to be my next baby — Q10 plus the BlackBerry Utility belt — my Bruce Wayne BlackBerry is becoming Batman!
But, after getting a look at the Passport, even from the second row of the auditorium, I was interested and intrigued. The Passport was far more attractive in person than previously leaked pictures. Over the last week we’ve got to see videos and pictures of the Passport from all angles. It looks so much better than the original Windermere leaks made it appear.
Why the sudden shift from planning to buy the Classic and now to the Passport? First it has a keyboard. I’m a keyboard aficionado, so I was very interested in the Passport’s keyboard. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to try the Passport. I expected the keys to be stiff and flat being that they are touch-sensitive.
I was pleasantly surprised that typing with two hands was actually more enjoyable than on my Q10. The pressure on the keys was excellent, with just enough of a push back to give the sense you were clicking something. The transition from Hard keys to Soft Symbols was a bit of an oddity, but to be fair my time with the device I didn’t get a chance to get used to it. Nevertheless, the keyboard felt immaculate.
Next, was the screen. FINALLY a screen that even a touchscreen user can love. With 4.5 inches of 1440 x 1440 and 457PPI goodness, you are reading 60 characters across the screen. For the iPhone carrying crowd, that is better than holding your device in landscape. This is a device to get stuff done. Lots of viewable area, hard keys, and a slim lightweight package.
Unfortunately, I can’t comment about the OS. We were told time and again the OS was not a final build. Many of us have already installed OS 10.3 onto our devices so we relatively know what is coming. However, what I can talk about is why I think the BlackBerry Passport is more than just a phone.
BlackBerry is pushing the boundaries. This is their first break away from the tried and true BlackBerry keyboard, yet it doesn’t feel like it. Looking at the pictures of this phone it doesn’t scream the stereotypical hotness like a Kaley Cuoco, or Sarah Rafferty but you find yourself with a Melissa McCarthy. A little bigger, but every bit as funny and can anchor a series.
BlackBerry is getting back into the Hardware of mobile phones by testing out a different form factor, in a time when all the phones on the market look like the same slab of glass. BlackBerry is trying to make a splash and show you can have your big screen, but you can also have a great keyboard.
The Passport will be BlackBerry’s second most innovative product since the Storm and its click-tastic touchscreen. BlackBerry 10 is an operating system that is suitable for both keyboard and touch. Software won’t be holding the BlackBerry Passport back, the only thing that could prevent the Passport from being a hit, is people afraid to try something different.
I’m still looking forward to the BlackBerry Classic, but I have to say after seeing and using the BlackBerry Passport, I will be giving it a run as my daily driver when I can finally get my hands on it later this year.