Three weeks ago, the BlackBerry Passport made its debut, and the reviews are still coming in, with more to come as it launches in other regions. Reviewers are discovering for themselves what “being different” can bring to the table, and a few are even having “conversion experiences” where their preconceptions were blown out of the water.
Take the case of Richard Goodwin of smartphone-centric site Know Your Mobile. He writes:
- “I didn’t want to like this handset. I had A LOT of preconceptions about the way it looked, switching back to a physical keyboard, and having to use BB10 for a week or more for the purpose of this review. Like a lot of people, I’d made my mind up about the Passport without even using it –– and this was wrong. Like all new ideas, once you’ve accustomed yourself to its ways you feel right at home banging out emails, editing documents and tweeting . . . The battery is excellent, ditto call quality, and there’s more than enough power inside to ensure everything operates in a silky smooth manner. I really enjoyed the improvements BlackBerry has made to the camera, and the screen is just marvelous. If you want a powerful piece of kit that is excellent at multitasking, has a gorgeous keyboard, brilliant battery, and an excellent notifications hub, as well as a growing selection of applications and market-leading security, then you could do A LOT worse than the BlackBerry Passport.”
A similar change of heart occurred for International Business Times’ Anthony Cuthbertson:
- “I laughed when I first saw the BlackBerry Passport, but after a few days with the device I’ve actually warmed to it . . . BlackBerry has taken a bold step with the Passport, breaking convention to create something that is neither an evolution of a previous device or replicating market trends set by its competitors . . . [The screen’s] wide design makes reading comfortable and it boasts one of the best pixel densities on the market. [The camera is] by far the best BlackBerry camera to date . . . There’s no doubting the build quality . . . Overall 9/10 – BlackBerry doing what it does best, brilliantly.”
ZDNet’s Matthew Miller, also changed his mind – hard:
- “The design seemed rather ridiculous at first, but after a week with the new BlackBerry Passport I am convinced BlackBerry is serious about competing for the enterprise customer…The BlackBerry Passport is not lacking in any single area and the only other smartphone we have seen with such industry-leading specifications in a single handset is the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. The display and keyboard are unlike anything you have ever seen before; and it turns out they work together to provide an experience unlike anything else out there. I was skeptical when I first saw the rumors and thought it was all some kind of joke. It turns out that the BlackBerry design team was able to deliver one of the first modern smartphones targeted primarily to the business user — while everyone else focuses on the consumer…BlackBerry has always had the best hardware QWERTY keyboards. BlackBerry took it to the next level with the Passport and it is easily the finest hardware keyboard ever created for a mobile device…Contributor’s rating: 9.5 out of 10
Over at Digital Trends, (where the BlackBerry Passport is a “Digital Trends Recommended Product”), Ted Kritsonis writes:
- “BlackBerry’s Passport reestablishes its reputation as a maker of tools, not toys, making it obvious who the phone is aimed at . . . In going with something that no one else has really done . . . BlackBerry is right to care less about making a big splash and more about taking care of its core base . . . We found [the BlackBerry Passport’s screen] easy on the eyes and had no complaints about the sharpness, color balance, brightness, and viewing angles, [while] the 3,450mAh battery [is] the largest of any current phone or phablet of its size. We found BlackBerry’s 30-hour estimate pretty spot on . . . we almost went to 40 hours on one charge. That’s pretty good running on a 2.2GHz Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor. The 3GB or RAM more than handles multitasking, and 32GB internal storage with a MicroSD slot ensures space isn’t an issue.”
Tech Radar’s Jeff Parsons writes:
- “[I]t’s just as weird in real life as it looks in the promotional pictures, [and] yet, dig a little deeper and there might just be something there after all. The 4.5-inch slab boasts a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM. There’s 32GB of storage, a microSD slot and a rear-facing 13MP camera. In other words, the Canadian company has thrown everything at this device when it comes to specs . . . The battery life is fantastic on the Passport. I used it for a couple of weeks and found that it would easily manage up to a couple of days of fairly heavy usage and still have battery remaining . . . Aspects of BlackBerry’s OS have also really come forward and the BlackBerry Hub, I feel, was very useful in filtering the daily slew of emails, text messages and social media updates I get. I liked the keyboard – and the fact it has touch functionality overlaid as well . . . Early indicators seem to show that people are responding to it well . . . Props to the company for attempting something a little bit different.”
Business Insider’s Peter Farquhar talked up his favorite features:
- “Nothing on the market comes close to organizing all your messages quite as neatly as the Passport. There are clearer displays on the market, but none that come to mind that are better optimized for browsing and document work. The battery is by far the best in its class under strain. BlackBerry Blend — the software that allows you to manage everything your phone does on your desktop, works. It’s a great way to keep your mind on the job in front of you without having to constantly switch between devices. I can’t stress how helpful this tool is on the train. It’s still the most intuitive OS on the market when it comes to swipe-ability and navigation. It’s a productivity tool, perhaps the best you can buy in the mobile space. As much as BlackBerry probably doesn’t want to hear this, you can actually get yourself a Passport for no other reason than simply because you like it.”
IT World Canada’s Chris Lau points out “Why BlackBerry Passport makes a great business device”:
- “It looks as though BlackBerry really pushed the right buttons with its launch of the Passport. BlackBerry is top in offering mobile security solutions . . . Hardware specifications are excellent . . . The powerful external speaker also stands out . . . The display makes viewing on “landscape mode” redundant and unnecessary . . . Recent security iCloud leaks make users appreciate the importance of security. BlackBerry still has the reputation of offering the best level of security . . . [C]orporations should consider replacing their old fleet of devices with the Passport. The device is most appropriate for users that rely on higher productivity, through the use of a physical keyboard.”
VentureBeat’s Simon Cohen notes the innovations:
- “The [BlackBerry Passport’s] screen is superb, [and] better than that of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and the Samsung Galaxy S5. It’s so good that, even though it’s a phone, you’re tempted to view the desktop version of websites . . . [The internal speaker] sounds good — it’s now as good as the iPhone 5s . . . If you [like physical keyboards], you will like the Passport’s keyboard a lot . . . the tactile feel is superb, as is its responsiveness. [With] the way BlackBerry has made the keyboard touch-sensitive, allowing it to respond to gestures . . . it marks the first time a physical keyboard has been more than just a keyboard . . . [BlackBerry Blend] just be the most exciting thing BlackBerry has produced since the original BlackBerry Bold – a brilliant way to bring your phone’s capabilities onto a bigger screen and to provide productivity-insurance for those times when you accidentally leave your device at home or the office . . . [T]hose who take the plunge will be rewarded with the best BlackBerry experience the company has ever created.”
And while TechnoBuffalo has yet to put out their final review, in their hands-on video (embedded below), the site’s Jon Rettinger listed some of the BlackBerry Passport’s strong features. In the accompanying article, Brandon Russell wrote:
- “[W]e were surprised (pleasantly, I might add) when the Passport was officially unveiled; we can all agree it isn’t your average smartphone . . . That unusual form factor, however, might be the device’s biggest strength . . . Typing feels familiar and natural, and swiping across the display is similar to any old touchscreen phone. But there are some neat software tweaks that bring the two experiences together . . . Overall, we’re really impressed with the Passport experience so far. It’s certainly different from many of today’s top flagships, but we think that’s a good thing for BlackBerry. A lot of the ideas seem catered for both power and casual users, so the Passport definitely appeals to a wide range of people.”
As the BlackBerry Passport becomes more widely available, there will be more reviews and commentary percolating online, and we expect plenty more “conversion” stories to pop up.
Pricing and Availability
You can get your factory-unlocked BlackBerry Passport from ShopBlackBerry.com at these links:
…and at Amazon HERE, with AT&T offering it for $649.99 unsubsidized or $199.99 with a 2-year contract. The BlackBerry Passport is also available in Canada via Rogers for $249 and Telus (for as low as $150 up front) and other carriers.
For those outside the North American market, you can get your BlackBerry Passport directly from us at our global shopping portal HERE.
(Check with your local carrier for device compatibility.)
Remember – the BlackBerry Passport has a battery capacity that exceeds all rivals in milliamp hours:*
|BlackBerry Passport||30 hours|
|Samsung Galaxy S5||23 hours|
|iPhone 6||21 hours|
|iPhone 6 Plus||25 hours|
(*Based on third-party lab testing sponsored by BlackBerry, under 4G and 3G wireless conditions, using a mixed-usage profile. Results will vary by carrier and network conditions.)
Do you have one? Let us know in the comments below!