BlackBerry Passport first impressions: Aimed at professionals, but does it strike the right chords?


BlackBerry's latest smartphone dubbed Passportis the first phone to come with an unconventional 4.5-inch square shaped touchscreen along with a dedicated QWERTY keypad. BlackBerry is clearly looking to target the professionals with the Passport. Has it struck the right chords?

The Passport, aimed at business professionals carries a unique enterprise look, with a 4.5-inch 1440x1440 square display and a stainless steel frame. According to Blackberry, the touchscreen allows 60 characters per line to make it ideal for reading emails and editing documents. Also, the square screen means there's no switchable landscape/portrait modes.

Along with the touchscreen display there's a a dedicated QWERTY keyboard, which doubles up as a touch-sensitive swipe pad. The QWERTY keyboard does not have dedicated number keys, instead, you'll need to swipe to use the existing keys for typing numbers. The Passport is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC which will come with a quad-core processor clocked at 2.2GHz along with 3GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable memory. Except for a thin upper slot at the top for the SIM and micro SD cards, it has a non-removable cover so you can't access the battery. BlackBerry Passport will sport a 3450mAh battery which will BlackBerry claims will give you a 30 hours usage time.

There's a 13MP rear snapper and a 2MP one on the front. The front camera captures video at 720p resolution.

The Passport runs BlackBerry OS 10.3, which focuses on helping users gets work done. The BlackBerry Assistant is BlackBerry’s first digital assistant and can be used with voice and text commands to help users manage work and personal email, contacts, calendar and other native BlackBerry 10 applications. BlackBerry Assistant intelligently determines how to respond to you based on how you interact with it – if you type, it responds silently, if you speak, it speaks back and if you activate over Bluetooth, it speaks back with additional context because it assumes you might not have access to the screen. It allows you to interact with personal as well as professional data, which may be behind secure servers. BlackBerry claims that its Assistant can do more tasks than Siri or Google Now.

BlackBerry Natural Sound technology has been around since the Z30, but the speaker on the Blackberry claims the Passport is 18 per cent louder than HTC One M8. It also adapts the volume levels of calls based on your environment with the new microphone in the earpiece.

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