Blackberry has ditched its legacy designs -- as well as industry wisdom -- to create the radically new Passport... but it takes learning to love it.
By Vishnu Anand
Over three days using the Blackberry Passport, I had a niggling thought: The radically new keyboard concep-- two rows of hardware keys, morphing seamlessly into three more rows of virtual keys -- reminded me of a very similar concept -- but what? Finally I got it! The Passport keyboard is the infinity pool of smart phones. Remember those seaside swimming pools in luxury hotels, where the pool seems to merge seamlessly with the waterline of the sea? Well they transferred the idea to the first phone where hard keys and soft keys just flow into each other.
Radical may not always be right: I had some problems getting used to the combo keyboard. But the Young and Restless, I'm guessing, will lap it up.
The other big departure with the Passport is its square 1:1 screen -- a departure from conventional wisdom which suggests we are all into a 16:9 era. A 4.5 inch square screen with a 1440x1440 pixel HD display, featuring Corning Gorilla Glass 3 gives a rugged feel to the phone. Spreadsheets, presentations and other business applications are easier to view and edits on a square screen, but the experience is not as pleasant for viewing videos simply because videos do not come in a square format!
Size Height 128 mm / 5.04 in; Width 90.3 mm / 3.56 in;
Depth 9.3 mm / 0.36 in Weight 196g / 6.91 oz
Display Resolution 1440 x 1440 resolution
Screen size 4.5" diagonal; 1:1 aspect ratio
Operating system BlackBerry 10 OS;
Desktop software BlackBerry Blend & BlackBerry Link
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 with
2.2GHz Quad-Core CPUs
Memory 3 GB RAM; 32 GB Flash
Battery: 3450mAH integrated non-removable battery
Camera & video: Rear camera: 13 megapixel auto-focus camera;
LED flash, continuous and touch to focus, image stabilization;
5x digital zoom; 1080p HD video recording at 60fps.
Front camera: 2MP fixed-focus; Image and video stabilization;
3x digital zoom; 720p HD video recording
Network band : FD-LTE; HSPA+ 1, 2, 4, 5/6, 8;
Quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac; 4G Mobile Hotspot; Wi-Fi Direct
FM Radio; Bluetooth 4.0; GPS; NFC
As a brief run down of the specs will show, the Passport is tops in almost every category: future proof with 4G mobile WiFi hotspot capability and NFC- ready for the tap-and -ay options that will soon be the norm worldwide. 32GB on on board memory is generous by any standard and the WiFi is "ac" not "n" which again is as far as one can go today.
If you have been a regular BlackBerry user, the transition time to adapt yourself to the 1:1 format for viewing emails and presentations might be slightly lesser, but if you are migrating from say an Android device , it will take some getting used to.
Bottomline – The Passport is a daring departure to square phones, with a rugged form factor and a design which screams ‘I mean business’. Complete with good battery life and an innovative keyboard experience, this one is for the adventurous buyer, someone who questions the normal and takes on the future based on his or her own terms. Presuming of course, that one thinks the future is worth the asking price of Rs.49,990.