BlackBerry takes a bold step designing a phone that looks completely new and different, just as they did with their first BlackBerry a decade ago. A device which screams professionalism from its looks to productivity, this is the phone that will keep you amazed for a very long time.
The BlackBerry® Passport smartphone challenges the smartphone status quo with a large square touch screen and touch-enabled keyboard.
The BlackBerry Passport is one solid smartphone. It is built with a stainless steel chassis which not only gives remarkable durability but also looks and feels premium overall. The wide square 4.5″ IPS LCD Q-HD display is shielded with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and is one of the most fascinating features of this device. Just below the screen is the all new redesigned 3-row capacitive physical keyboard. The phone is as said, two handed operational, but I assure you that anyone can build up the ability to use it with one hand for most tasks.
The rear panel has a soft touch rubberized material giving a nice sturdy grip with a neat look. A long steel bezel connecting two ends bridges the 13MP camera and LED flash light in the top-middle.
The top side of the phone holds a 3.5mm headphones jack and a Unlock/Standby button placed on the right end.
On the right, you have the volume rocker up and down keys along with the BlackBerry Assistant shortcut button which also serves as Play/Pause multimedia.
The bottom features a microphone, microUSB slot and those loud dual speakers.
And the left side holds nothing, just a beautiful solid stainless steel bezel.
The screen resolution is 1440×1440 holding pixels upto 453PPI, which is undoubtedly the clearest display for a mobile this size. The width takes web browsing experience to the next level and holds upto 60 characters in a line where others fall to around 40. The phone is weighed at 194gms precisely, which may sound heavy but actually fits just right in a user’s hands for its wide form-factor.
But does it fit in all pockets? – Yes! This is one question everyone has been asking me in the last 7 days. It is fascinating as the Passport fits perfectly in all clothing. Even in a pair of jeans, it slides in & out easily. In fact, the wide size in pockets feel more comfortable than long tall phones. Moreover, it fits perfectly in breast pockets of any formal shirt you own.
BlackBerry Passport is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked at 2.2Ghz along with 3GB of RAM. It also comes with the latest BlackBerry 10.3 OS which makes the device experience even more smooth for seamless productivity and stability. To get that long lasting impact, BlackBerry installed a large battery of 3450mAh capacity which officially states to last about 30hrs on mixed usage profile. For us, it easily made through a day over extreme usage. In moderate use, it shall give you more than 20hrs. Unfortunately, this battery is non-removable.
The in-built 32GB of storage memory can be expanded upto 128GB by installing the microSD card inside the removable top cover. Unlike any other BlackBerry, the Passport requires nanoSIM card in the slot placed just beside the microSD slot. We believe BlackBerry will continue to produce phones with nanoSIM slots from now on.
The Passport is not just for business individuals. It’s for every professional out there! Watching videos on this big and beautiful 4.5″ screen is a pleasure. The size of the screen is as big as an iPhone 5s (98% in comparison to be precise). Although, due to 1:1 ratio you will see two black bars at the top and bottom of videos but honestly, that doesn’t really matter. No one watches long length videos on mobiles but even if you do, it’s not bad at all.
Last year’s flagship device from BlackBerry was the Z30 which had the loudest speakers found on any smartphone but the Passport beats it by a respectable difference of 15-20% louder. The phone also has four microphones – one at the top, another at the bottom, and two fitted on either side of the rear camera.
Thanks to BlackBerry Natural Sound system, the calling experience on BBM Voice and Video is what I believe the max quality you can ever get. It actually feels like you’re talking to the other party in person. It really does! BlackBerry Passport also has a unique feature called Active Leak Compensation which automatically adjusts the call volume based on how close you hold the smartphone to your ear. For instance, when you go busy with both hands & hold the phone with your shoulder, the sensors will increase and decrease volume.
BlackBerry Passport has a slim-port microUSB slot at the bottom which not only charges and syncs phone to desktop but also mirrors the phone to large screen TVs and monitors via HDMI through Slim-port dongle. You can also wirelessly mirror your phone by connecting through Miracast or DLNA enabled devices.
Let’s talk about the newly designed BlackBerry keyboard. It’s not the same keyboard that we are familiar with, it looks different and also works differently. BlackBerry takes physical keyboard on smartphones to the next level by adding touch sensors beneath it. In short, the whole keyboard is a trackpad and brushing the keys around will function on the basis of requirement.
Starting with the typing – It’s nothing like the old ones so don’t even think about comparing it. It takes around a day or two to get used to the new design and positions. The keys are larger than before and you will hardly make any typos once you get used to it. Unlike older phones, you won’t find numbers and special characters on keys but they are there, hidden. BlackBerry has added a row of software keyboard just above the physical one to play with.
Leveraging the touch sensors, BlackBerry added their BlackBerry 10 software keyboard techniques into this tactile physical keyboard. Now you can brush your fingers over the physical keys to perform gestures as on the Z30, Z10 & Z3. The moment you start typing, you’ll see word predictions above the keyboard just like on Q series. But this time, you can just flick within its vertical alignment on physical keyboard to type in the word instantly. Other gestures like swiping right to left to erase words and swipe down to get numbers and characters also work on the Passport. The numbers and special characters appear on the screen with a similar design as the keyboard below. Each of these soft keys has a letter assigned on top-right which is actually a shortcut, and pressing it on the tactile keyboard will enter the number or character and close down. But if you want to continue typing on these soft keys, you can just tap them on the screen and swipe down on keyboard when done. This is a big achievement because it works absolutely stunning without any delays or failure.
It doesn’t stop here! BlackBerry adds in more to the keyboard for a flawless and fast typing experience. You can double tap on the keyboard to get the cursor and pan around for any correction in between messages. This eliminates the hassle of placing & blocking the view on any other smartphone. Also, if you hold down the shift key and slide the cursor by brushing the keyboard, it lets you select the text to copy, cut, paste, and delete instantly.
Typing with one hand is possible, but not very comfortable. Well I never was comfortable typing one handed on a QWERTY so this speculation doesn’t even count in my views. For everything else, one hand operation is manageable.
The primary 13MP camera at the rear side of the phone takes beautiful crisp pictures. This camera also features Optical Image Stabilization which helps to shoot clear pictures even with shaky hands. The camera also records videos upto 1080p with 60 frames per second. Anyhow, this can be lowered from settings. The LED flash does a pretty good job at night and you can hardly spot any grains, but you do see soft edges. The 2MP secondary camera on the front does a fine job for video chats, but it is not so good for selfies. It records videos upto 720p at fixed focus.
BlackBerry Passport Camera Gallery
The new BlackBerry 10.3 OS brings a lot more options to the camera app. The Camera app lets a user snap a picture, record a video, and switch between the front and back cameras from the main screen on a single tap. Users can even take a picture while recording a video. The camera also automatic detects and suggests users to change the conditions of the scene the user wants to take a picture or video of. Suggestions are interactive and appear at the top of the screen. To turn on the suggested setting, the user taps the suggestion.
|Low light||Night mode|
|Variations in lighting||HDR|
|Normal conditions||Auto or HDR off|
There are many options to choose from in the extended menu. The new Time Shift mode lets you you rewind real time for capturing perfect moment. Unlike before, you can now save the whole series of scene and choose the best later. Other features like burst mode and panorama also included. HDR pictures produced by Passport is one of a kind. Although the camera launches in 1:1 ratio by default, you can change the ratio anytime between 4:3 or 16:9.
BlackBerry Passport comes with the latest BlackBerry 10.3 OS which is by far the heftiest update we’ve seen from the company. This new operating system brings plenty of new features & user interface refreshments. BlackBerry adds in Amazon Appstore for filling the app-gap the platform has. Now you have best of two worlds on one device. Amazon appstore offers more than 200,000 apps, offering one paid app for free every single day! This new store also misses a few big name titles but you can just download them from Browser & install directly.
BlackBerry introduces its all new voice commander app making it more powerful than ever! It can be launched anytime from anywhere by holding the middle volume rocker key or just start typing on homescreen for universal search. BlackBerry Assistant helps you do task over voice or by typing in words. A few examples of what users can do using the BlackBerry Assistant app include:
- Search for directions, weather forecasts, and information about restaurants or shopping
- Update or comment on a status in social networking apps, such as Facebook or LinkedIn
- Post a tweet on Twitter
- Search for music
- Set an alarm
- Make a phone call
- Search for an email by Subject
- Create a reminder in BlackBerry Remember
- Start a BBM chat
BlackBerry Assistant also keeps track and lists the most frequent used queries right on main screen.
But there’s more! Since BlackBerry Maps is now available in India, I tried looking out for movies around me saying “What’s playing tomorrow night?” and the BlackBerry Assistant showed up the list of movies playing in theaters near me. Clicking on search search item expands details with its summary, star cast, genre, theaters with movie timings & also offers trailer within.
The most incredible thing I find in BlackBerry Assistant is the natural way you can communicate. For example, I tried saying “I feel like eating pizza” and it gave me the list of restaurants offering pizza near me. I can simply select an option & hit go to launch BlackBerry Maps for directions. Like I said, there are many hidden possibilities in here. Just tap and ask “Who directed Titanic?” and the assistant gives you its detailed answer. “Did I get any new BBM messages about tonight’s plan?” and it searches for the ‘Plan’ in new BBM messages. This virtual assistant is really smart! You can do a lot more than what Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana & Google Now do but it has its own drawbacks. First of all, BlackBerry made this assistant very work-people oriented. So, everything that’s related to work is all there! “When did I get the last Email from Irfan?” – The date with last Email from Irfan shoot up! “How many Emails did i get from Ali this month?” – You’ll get the whole list. You can also shift appointments just like you would say to your assistant – “Move my Doctor’s appointment to 2:00 PM” and its done! No need to go into calendar app and check. Similarly, you can say “turn on WiFi” or “Bluetooth” or “Flashlight” etc. to switch it on for you.
In comparison to other voice assistants out there, BlackBerry Assistant is a solid tool for getting things done. I never experienced such natural recognition on any other assistants. I never thought I could ever say “Shoot a BBM to Adnan and let him know I’ll be late” to a voice assistant. To me, BlackBerry Assistant feels much more like an ‘Assistant’. Where as i ploy Siri as an overly attached girlfriend who does almost any task you want along with tons of silly answers you ask. I refer ‘girlfriend’ because Siri can’t perform task management as good as BlackBerry Assistant does. There are few missed actions in Siri that you can perform on BlackBerry. Siri also cannot peek into your Work Emails, Contacts, Calendar etc. but the assistant here on Passport will do it. But Siri takes a lead when it comes to entertainment. You can literally talk to Siri for hours and kill time but personally, I would never do that. On the other hand, Google Now lacks far behind to BlackBerry Assistant. It offers search cards and thats it! You can’t interact with it with your phone content. You can’t ask it to “Read out my last Email from John” and stuff like that. The only thing I like about Google Now is the voice recognition accuracy and speed. But that’s about it. Microsoft’s Cortana is very similar to BlackBerry Assistant to be honest. She does almost everything that Windows Phone offers, which unfortunately makes it lacking because the whole Windows Phone platform isn’t as wide as others.
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Excellent review. Now I want to get one badly.
Now this is how a review should be presented. Thanks you. Getting the Passport next week by the way.
The best part of this article is that it is NOT at all biased.
Made me more desperate to get a Passport to enhanced productivity.
Very curious indeed to buy. The only dampener is the price tag. Everyone in India were expecting the price below 40k, which didn’t happened. Let’s hope after initial euphoria, the price will settle down at around 40k, which I feel the right price.
This is a premium device. Why would anyone in India expect it to be cheaper?? If they can’t afford it then they should look at a cheaper phone. Quality products need to be priced as such. I think the price is perfect.
Beautiful review, I truly enjoyed reading it. I will be picking up a Passport soon!
Hi can you tell me about how can we type hindi on blackberry passport?
Is other emails account such as Gmail, Yahoo etc official email would work without having Blackberry Account or Service in Passport? Please reply as in other black berry it doesnt work…!!
Yes. It will work without BlackBerry Service
Mr. Shahzoor Ali, thanks for your reply. May I know are you using this Phone? If yes, May I have your number as I hv some few queries regarding same….plz help!!
My Z10 to Passport journey
Hi all, I have purchased BB Passport in Feb-15, unfortunately in May-15 it fallen on earth from some height and its front glass broken. Can anybody tell that from where I can get it repair ? I am in Ranchi, JH and local BB Ser Center not able to fix it, they need 30 days for it. My second query is can I avail any Guaranty Warranty facility for the same ??
Thanks & Regards / Vinay / email@example.com
Warranty can’t be claimed on hardware damage done by user. You can check some local stores for new screen or online
Do we have the 10.3.2 version update in India with Vodafone or any other local carriers?