BlackBerry Passport: BB back in business, but is it enough?

BlackBerry Passport: BB back in business, but is it enough?And so the final act of September Madness has been played out with the official announcement of the BlackBerry Passport yesterday.

The Canadian firm's latest smartphone offering is arguably also its most important ever, as its success or failure could ultimately now determine the fortunes of the company itself.

Either way, the Passport is without question one of a kind. It somehow manages to accommodate both a square 4.5in display and a full QWERTY keyboard without looking completely ridiculous.

One thing it is not, however, is small. Its 128 x 90mm footprint is pushing the boundaries of pocketability, and even that is only achieved by cutting the physical keyboard down to three rows rather than the traditional four.

The Passport compensates for that by offering additional context-sensitive options on-screen, such as punctuation marks while typing.

Overall, BlackBerry says the screen size and resolution mean you can fit 60 characters of text on screen, which BlackBerry boss John Chen is happy to point out is way more than the iPhone's 33.

Component-wise we're talking Qualcomm's MSM8974AA Snapdragon 800 chipset, including a 2.26GHz quad-core Krait 400 processor, as well as 3GB of RAM and a decent 3450mAh battery.

The Passport arrives together with the latest BlackBerry 10.3 OS, and debuts the new BlackBerry Blend feature, which allows you to securely access info stored on your BlackBerry on a PC or Mac either via Wi-Fi or USB.

The unavoidable downside of the Passport, and BlackBerry OS in general, is the relatively tiny selection of apps versus what you get on Android, iOS or even Windows Phone. BlackBerry's decision to partner with Amazon's Appstore is a good one, but only to a point.

And the renewed focus on enterprise needs over more consumer-friendly considerations may be BlackBerry refocusing on what it does best, but then wasn't a failure to see business users as consumers too one of the main reasons for the company's decline in the first place?

The BlackBerry Passport is available immediately from Amazon or BlackBerry itself for a SIM-free £529.

Add a comment

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 25, 2014 at 11:41

Never seen such ridiculous dismissiveness as yesterday's bloggery frenzy.
Most quoted 'review' was Joanna Stern's WSJ 'review'... The woman spent 1 (!!!) sentence on the camera! But 5 paragraphs about the olden days....

And most comments everywhere are pure drivel....
I'm not saying the Passport is good or it will be a hit.... But with an excess of 10,000 unique Android phones people try to explain how there is no market for something a little different? LOL

satchef1  Sep. 25, 2014 at 15:45

I kinda agree with you Jan. I mean, the Passport seems to be exactly what a modern Blackberry should be. Unlike other recent handsets from the company, it isn't trying to do everything, isn't trying to compete with Apple, Samsung et all. As a modern smartphone, it seemingly sucks. I'm not sure that's actually a bad thing though.

Somewhere along the line, bloggers seem to have got all nostalgic and doe-eyed about classic Blackberry handsets, like they were something more that a tool for doing work with/on. They weren't. Like the Passport, they were **** for multimedia, **** for gaming. The Passport is merely a modern take on the classic formula - it's a work tool, not an entertainment device. This is back to basics Blackberry in a 2014 device.

The question is, is there still a place in the market for a Blackberry? Do people really still need them? Every modern smartphone can handle email and spreadsheets, so is the Passport enough of a step up in these areas to counteract its own weaknesses? I'm not sure it is, but then I'm not the target audience.

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 25, 2014 at 18:09

I'd buy one without trying.
And that's all the market I care about :p

JanSt / MOD  Sep. 25, 2014 at 18:39

Was kidding... but I do want to try one.


You don't need an account to comment. Just enter your email address. We'll keep it private.