Mobile Reviews Mobiles

BlackBerry Passport Review

Written by Lisa Scholfield

BlackBerry is still around?

I’ve heard that question quite frequently yesteryear couple of days, as I’ve used the BlackBerry Passport. Unlike what lots of people within my social circle believe, BlackBerry is definitely still around and is able to make itself relevant once more.

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For a long time, BlackBerry attempted to battle the iPhone, however that would be a fight it extremely lost. Now it’s departing that fight behind and returning to the roots: making tools to get work done. The perfect BlackBerry user does not have enough time to experience games, does not have enough time to transmit Snapchats, and does not have enough time for just about any nonsense. This individual has only here we are at business. BlackBerry really includes a reputation for these folks: “Power Pros.” The Passport is perfect for Energy Pros.

Customers sometime ago abandoned BlackBerry mobile phones for eco-friendly, application-filled pastures. But the company’s typically strong enterprise position has been overtaken. Why have a BlackBerry I do not enjoy using after i have access to our company’s data and tools around the iPhone or Android phone I curently have? BlackBerry’s response: double-lower on productivity once again.

The $249 ($599 unlocked) Passport may be the greatest, squarest, most inside your face BlackBerry the organization has ever created. It’s the culmination of all things BlackBerry has ever done, a productivity giant much more comfortable within the boardroom compared to the family room. (It also appears like it’s putting on a suit.) Other mobile phones are frequently belittled because of not being efficient productivity tools, however the Passport’s sole focus is on getting work done.

BlackBerry states the Passport will place it in the battle, in the boardroom, and in the coat pocket of the Brooks Siblings suit. But in excess of one reason, there may not be room inside for that Passport.

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Don’t forget mince words: the BlackBerry Passport appears like a huge square drink coaster. It’s large: 5.03 inches tall, 3.55 inches wide, and .37 inches thick. It’s heavy: 6.91 oz .. It’s odd-searching: it’s as though a vintage BlackBerry spent a while inside a medieval torture tool and got extended it in most four corners. It’s really not far from exactly the same size of an worldwide passport, surely not by accident. It’s heavier and wider than both Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and also the Apple iPhone 6 Plus. Obviously, the Passport is awkward to make use of and awkward to hold inside your pants’ pocket. I’m able to hardly utilize it in one hands, and that i dropped it more often than once within the the couple of days I’ve used it. I can not utilize it effectively when I am holding coffee at the back of an urban area Vehicle, nor can one cruise through my mailbox while possessing a railing around the subway.

Its weight and size does result in the Passport feel sturdy. Its stainless frame and matte plastic construction are durable and functional, otherwise exciting. Despite the fact that I dropped it more often than once, my review unit still appears like it simply arrived on the scene from the box. Energy Pros can’t get anything done if their iPhone or Galaxy phone breaks once they drop it, and BlackBerry is comfortable with that. The Passport does not require a cumbersome Otterbox to make certain it survives.

THE PASSPORT DOESN’T NEED A CLUNKY CASE TO SURVIVE A FALL

The Passport’s awkward dimension is to support its square display. It’s a higher-resolution, 4.5-inch, 1,440 x  1,440 pixel Insolvency practitioners LCD having a dense 453PPI. It appears great: viewing angles are tremendous, colors are accurate, and pixels are invisible to my eyes. BlackBerry designed this display for reading through and you may see a lot of things onto it.Untitled

It’s a really purpose-built screen for conducting business-y such things as looking at excel spreadsheets and slide presentations. However that causes it to be not so proficient at most of the other activities that people use our mobile phones for today. It’s much simpler to navigate a spreadsheet or browse a web page using the Passport, but reading through my Twitter feed requires lots of scrolling, and videos have annoying black bars eating up 1 / 2 of the display above and underneath the content.

Underneath the screen is the reason why the Passport a real BlackBerry: it features a honest-to-goodness physical keyboard, something not one other modern device offers. It’s a throwback towards the keyboards that made BlackBerry mobile phones very popular years back, and BlackBerry states it’s required for efficient productivity on the run. However the Passport’s three row layout isn’t just like the older designs. It’s too wide, which makes it basically impossible to type the easiest words with one hands. And for whatever reason, the spacebar is jammed up in to the third row of letters, splitting the keyboard and leading to a myriad of confusion in my thumbs. Irrrve never got accustomed to it and that i remain a much faster and much more accurate typist on the good virtual keyboard. It isn’t obvious in my experience why BlackBerry didn’t simply make the Passport slightly longer to support a 4th row of secrets – it’s already a large phone, another quarter-inch wouldn’t make a improvement in size but would go a lengthy method to enhancing the keyboard.

The secrets are in least clicky and responsive, and also the keyboard comes with a couple of unique methods up its sleeve. The top of keyboard is really responsive to touch, so that you can scroll through webpages or emails by just gliding your thumb over the secrets. It’s a strange, satisfying feeling to scroll using the keyboard also it keeps my fingers from obstructing the information I’m searching at on screen. The keyboard may also be used to maneuver the cursor around when typing, but it is just simpler to make use of the touch screen for your.

I NEVER FELT COMFORTABLE WITH THE PASSPORT IN MY HANDS

For those that BlackBerry has been doing to help make the Passport a productivity tool, its design felt enjoy it was fighting me more frequently of computer was helping me. Between your awkward dimensions and odd keyboard layout, Irrrve never felt confident with the Passport within my hands rather than felt comfortable getting work done onto it. Being confident with your tools is important for any Energy Pro: it ought to get free from my way and merely allow me to have completed what I have to have completed. Too frequently, the Passport did not get free from my way.

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The Passport does its focus on BlackBerry 10.3, a refinement from earlier versions of BlackBerry 10 – it appears better, works better, and it is generally just easier to use. However it still uses large amount of gestures and swiping, a few of which aren’t intuitive, and it is no easy operating-system to understand and rapidly get proficient with.

BlackBerry 10 centers round the Hub, which is advisable performed poorly. The concept would be to group all the notices and messages you obtain into one place – basically a notification focus on anabolic steroids. However it doesn’t always seem sensible to possess all your Twitter or Facebook messages, work emails, personal emails, Foursquare alerts, texts, and BBMs in the same location. Marking all individuals read needs a lengthy press on the small date after which another button press next, and lots of occasions it simply didn’t work. The Hub can display me my approaching calendar visits, that is super helpful, however i can’t determine which calendars to display there, so our shared Google calendars appear inside it. It is not productive whatsoever.

THE HUB IS A GREAT IDEA EXECUTED POORLY

BlackBerry 10’s undertake icons is sort of a mixture of Android’s icons and Microsoft’s Live Tiles, but it’s less helpful than either. Recent apps appear inside a power grid around the homescreen, however they aren’t permanent and it is never obvious in which the last application I made use of will land. And when I open your camera, a lot of my recent apps will shut lower by themselves accord.

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The main new feature in BlackBerry 10.3 may be the va, BlackBerry’s undertake Siri, Google Now, and Windows Phone’s Cortana. It may do the majority of the stuff you expect an online personal assistant to complete: add memory joggers, send emails, lookup sports scores, search the net, making calendar visits, with just your voice. BlackBerry’s voice parsing technologies are really very good, however the system is reduced compared to assistants on other platforms. It doesn’t do the predictive items that Google Now and Cortana provide, but it’s a good first effort.

BlackBerry 10’s greatest fault happens to be its insufficient third-party apps, and BlackBerry is smartly outsourcing this issue for that Passport. The Passport can run Android apps, so BlackBerry has preloaded the Amazon . com Appstore onto it, supplying use of insightful apps which were never open to BlackBerry customers before. Oddly, the BlackBerry Application World remains around the device, but BlackBerry states that’ll be centered on productivity apps as the Amazon . com store handles the relaxation.

Getting the Amazon . com Appstore around the Passport is a big improvement for BlackBerry’s application situation – you will find much more apps inside it than BlackBerry’s Application World ever endured. And most of them run all right around the Passport’s square display – I could cruise through my news feeds in Feedly and browse articles within my Pocket queue with no issues.

MANY ANDROID APPS RUN JUST FINE ON THE PASSPORT, BUT INSTALLING THEM IS A CHORE

But really setting up apps in the Amazon . com store is really a chore: it takes believe it or not than three taps on several install buttons, a minimum of two loading bars, along with a fair quantity of persistence before you really make use of the application you are attempting to install. It certainly seems like this guitar rock band-Aid solution that it’s. And Amazon . com continues to be missing important apps, for example Instagram and Snapchat, plus none of Google’s excellent Android apps can be found. That’s most likely no problem for that customers BlackBerry is focusing on using the Passport, but it’s for that relaxation people.

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BlackBerry can also be attempting to rectify being able to access your projects email, documents, and communications over the various products inside your existence with BlackBerry Blend. Blend allows you connect your iPad, Android tablet, Windows PC, or Mac for your BlackBerry via USB, Wi-Fi, or cellular systems and access your BBM messages, email options, calendar along with other things without obtaining your phone. It’s made to keep everything segregated – your projects email and calendar never integrate with your own personal ones with no work data will get saved on the pc or tablet. BlackBerry couldn’t give a way that i can test Blend prior to this review, however the demo I had been proven carried out as guaranteed. It’s something which will probably allow it to be managers at BlackBerry’s corporate clients happy, otherwise the BlackBerry customers themselves.

Such as the Passport’s hardware design, BlackBerry 10.3 got when it comes to me being productive greater than it assisted me. I can’t archive anything within the email application, that is soul-crushing with this Gmail user. Working together on the internet Drive documents with my co-workers is basically impossible around the Passport. I additionally can’t consult with my colleagues around the Passport with this group chat application of preference (Slack), therefore it was hard to fully integrate it into my mobile workflow.

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Performance-smart, the Passport has got the most effective hardware that BlackBerry has ever introduced towards the table. Its quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM make sure that most things are fluid and smooth, and also the browser is actually fast. However the Passport still slows lower after i attempt to multitask or do greater than one factor at any given time, that is frustrating for any device with your effective hardware.

The brand new 13-megapixel camera is the greatest camera any BlackBerry has ever endured, but it is not really saying much. It’s autofocus, can shoot 1080p video in 30 or 60 fps, and it is display quality is generally good, otherwise great. But it’s reduced compared to competition, and often it requires multiple seconds to produce (whether it launches whatsoever). Additionally, it takes pictures within the Passport’s square screen format by default, despite the fact that there isn’t an Instagram application open to share individuals square photos.

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Unlike BlackBerry mobile phones of old, the Passport’s integrated battery isn’t detachable. But it’s huge (large phones beget large batteries) also it didn’t have trouble lasting a complete day for me personally. Many occasions, I possibly could get better into day two without needing to hook it up. That’s great: it’s challenging to get any work done in case your iPhone is pleading for any charge at 3PM.

The Passport also offers great call quality and knowledge performance (as examined on AT&T’s LTE network), despite being really awkward to support along side it of the face. The speakerphone is actually noisy and obvious, too, that is essential for impromptu conference calls.

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I perform a large amount of focus on my phone. It’s second simply to my laptop if this involves getting my task finished. The BlackBerry Passport ought to be the right phone for me personally: it had been designed in the ground-up to obtain work done.

But despite getting numerous things right, like awesome battery existence along with a solid construction, the Passport got when it comes to getting work done greater than it assisted. Nobody would actually reason that iOS is really a super productive platform, but my iPhone provides the tools I have to get my task finished, and also the Passport doesn’t. BlackBerry confesses that lots of its Energy Pro customers continue to be prone to carry two phones, despite the Passport. But when I’m able to get my task finished with only one device, why bother transporting two?

THE PASSPORT JUST DOESN’T OFFER THE TOOLS I NEED TO GET MY WORK DONE

That’s the struggle that BlackBerry is facing – regardless of how much it attempts to place the emphasis back on “carrying out work,Inch people will work with apps on their own phones. Awkward dimensions and confusing connects aside, the Passport’s greatest failure is it just does not have what I have to get my task finished. Also it certainly can’t replace the many other a few things i use my smartphone, like play games watching video.

That is not to state it will not be suitable for many people – I know you will find a couple of individuals who want a tool such as the Passport (possibly Energy Pros which have no real interest in YouTube out on another use any one of Google’s services). Individuals individuals will endure its weak points just to possess a giant screen along with a hardware keyboard (however problematic it may be). The Passport is really a shrine to everything BlackBerry has been doing during the last fifteen years, but none of them of that’s very relevant currently. It’s apparently the very best that BlackBerry can perform, but it is not enough.

About the author

Lisa Scholfield

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