BlackBerry Passport review: A smartphone going nowhere
Has BlackBerry passed its 'use by' date?
- High resolution screen
- Good processing hardware
- Secure emails
- Awkward form factor
- Stiff QWERTY keyboard
- Limited application support
A suit, tie and buttoned up collar go best. It’s held in one hand with coffee often in the other. There’s no time to waste because time is money and money is money.
“Hi. My name is BlackBerry Passport, and I’m a workaholic.”
The Passport is an unusual smartphone from BlackBerry, a company no longer part of mainstream lexicon. This is the company's attempt at bringing innovation to the popular touchscreen form factor.
There’s a 4.5in screen up front joined by a three row QWERTY keyboard. BlackBerry has meshed these together in a body the size of an international passport.
Why a passport? We don’t know. It’s not like a passport comfortably fits in pants pockets.
BlackBerry’s reps claim the shape comes closest to the pages of a book as the screen can display 60 characters per line. There’s credence backing the claim with text and web pages looking less compromised and more like they would on a computer.
Older BlackBerry’s circumvented not having a touchscreen by including an optical trackpad. Swiping your thumb over it caused the on-screen content to scroll fluidly, either horizontally or vertically. The Passports performs an interesting trick by doubling the keyboard as an optical trackpad. Using it means fingers don’t get in the way of the screen; however, most people will continue to use the touchscreen because it offers more control.Read more: Top Twitter reactions to Windows 10
The three-row keyboard covers only letters, a backspace and an enter key. It’s hard typing at pace because you’ll have to reach up to the screen for numbers and special characters. Lugging such a large smartphone should pay dividends in how quickly texts can be written and emails can be drafted, but between the layout of the keyboard and the stiffness of its keys, typing on the BlackBerry Passport is not easy.
Receiving texts and emails is, though. BlackBerry’s Hub feeds all notifications into one informations savvy interface. Notifications from social networks can be viewed and actioned here, such as accepting a LinkedIn request or replying to a tweet. Viewing the hub can be done quickly from any part of the menu by gesturing an arc and, although Windows Phone offers a glace at different notifications, BlackBerry’s Hub offers a lot more detail. It is the most information centric interface available and will appeal to people who are always plugged-in.
BlackBerry smartphones run BB10 and the Passport comes with the current 10.3 version. The software has been geared for business use first and it is supplemented by frayed application support.Read more: Windows 10: a new platform that runs on every device
BlackBerry offers its own application store, BlackBerry World, on the Passport, however, it doesn’t have a large app population. That’s why the company has made its operating system compatible with Amazon’s application store. Amazon’s Appstore hosts some 250,000 applications, and although that’s just one-quarter of Apple and Google’s, it’s on par with Microsoft’s.
Theoretically, the BlackBerry Passport will work with applications from Google’s Play store. Don’t get excited because you’ll have to download the installation file (.apk) separately before it will work, and that’s an inelegant solution reserved for hackers.
Hardware tells a better story with the Passport proving one of the best kitted BlackBerrys in the company’s history. The 4.5in screen has a 1440x1400 resolution for a density of 453 pixels-per-inch. Inside is a 2.2GHz quad-core CPU, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, with the option of adding a microSD memory card. The smartphone bristles with connectivity options, while long-lasting battery life remains a hallmark of BlackBerry phones.
During our testing of the BlackBerry Passport, we had all of our social networks and email accounts actively refreshing. This type of usage would’ve flattened an iPhone 6 within 17 hours, but the Passport endured 33 hours before going flat.
Snapping a photo with the BlackBerry Passport is just another reminder this smartphone is reserved for business use. Photos captured with the rear 13MP camera suffer from too much image noise when viewed at their native resolution. The Passport’s camera falls behind what’s on offer from Sony, Apple, Samsung, HTC and Nokia.Read more: Nikon Coolpix AW120 review: Tough and then some
The BlackBerry Passport is the Fort Knox of smartphones. Only those with for-their-eyes-only information will value its proficient security, though we’d recommend the BlackBerry Z30 in those cases. The Passport does few things well, but it is let down by doing too many things not well enough.
Join the newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Huawei Y5 (2017): Full, in depth review
- 3 LG G6 Plus: Full, in-depth review
- 4 First Look: Nikon D850
- 5 OnePlus 5: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Huawei go big on AI, announce Mate 10 + Mate 10 Pro
- Huawei's flagship tech trickles down to mid-tier with new Nova 2i smartphone
- Incipio Adds Pixel 2 Cases To Roster
- Survey: 20% of Aussie Apple users wouldn't switch to Android for a million dollars
- Tech21 Announces New Phone Protection For Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL
PCW Evaluation Team
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.
It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.
- Canon 6D MK II
- Panasonic’s EX600U UHD HDR TV + HTB688 soundbar:
- Which case should I buy for the Samsung Galaxy Note 8?
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
Product Launch Showcase
- FT.Net DeveloperNSW
- FTSAP Lead Solution ArchitectOther
- CCSAP Finance AnalystNSW
- CCPricing AdministratorVIC
- FTSolution ArchitectWA
- TPBusiness Analyst - RoboticsNSW
- TPProject Manager - 3 days per weekQLD
- TPSenior Project CoordinatorVIC
- FTJunior-Mid level .Net/Front-End Developer (Brisbane location)VIC
- FTSenior Strategy Consultant - Large CorporateOther
- FTSoftware Developer - Banking SolutionsOther
- TPProject CoordinatorNSW
- FTAndroid DeveloperSA
- FTSenior Systems Engineer/Veeam SpecialistOther
- FTHR Analyst - Remuneration & PerformanceOther
- FTGovernance Manager (Systems Assurance)Other
- FTSenior Project ManagerOther
- CCSalesforce DeveloperNSW
- TPIT Security EngineerQLD
- CCMulesoft DeveloperVIC
- CCFinance AnalystVIC
- FTLead Solution ArchitectSA
- FTEmail Campaign Production SpecialistOther
- CCMobile DeveloperNSW
- FTRobotic Process Automation Developer LeadOther