UTB Reviews – 10 Days With A BlackBerry Passport

Drool level, 1000

Many of you have entered our Passport competition and one of the reasons is that the Passport is just so damn hard to get a hold of.

Especially in the US. Thanks AT&T!

I was, like I suppose all of us, completely taken by surprise by the initial wave of demand and missed out when the first batch of stock sold out so quickly. Undeterred I placed an order with Carphone Warehouse on 30th September and then sat and waited for some more stock to arrive.

And waited…

And waited…

Until FINALLY I went to pick it up at the local store last Monday.

This was good, as when I walked in this was one of those stores that has NO BlackBerry’s on sale, whatsoever. No stands, no mentions – NOTHING. Just iPhone, HTC, Samsung and Nokia. Even the ‘Best of the Rest’ stand has gone. So I was definitely going to get a reaction from the staff.

So, march up to the counter and ask for my order. A bit of shuffling around in the back (and I’m sure a derogatory comment but I couldn’t quite hear) and out it came in it’s courier bag so, just for fun I thought I’d unbox it there and then. No derogatory comments now…

Turns out this is the first one the staff have seen in the flesh and they wanted to have a look. Of the 3, 2 were VERY impressed, the other asked me to hold it to my ear (whilst barely concealing a smirk) which was wiped off by the other guys with words such as ‘THAT is cool!’ and ‘Wow! Look at that! Can I hold it? Niiicce!’ So, job done although I think I’ll pop back at some time now it’s all loaded up.

Nipped next door to EE for a Nano SIM (plonked the box on the counter and loudly exclaimed to the rep there to tell his bosses I’d have bought it from them had they bothered to stock it) and then it was off home as quick as possible as, to be fair, the EE service worked extremely quickly and by the time I had left the shop my Micro SIM in my Z30 was dead and I had no service.

After gazing at it it the box it was time to fire it up and perform a Device Switch via BlackBerry Link. My Z30 was packed so this wasn’t a short process but there has obviously been some major improvements since I swapped from Z10 to Z30 as all my Android apps copied across fine AND the saved data too. Very sweet. That might sound silly but as I had to go back to the beginning on Candy Crush (yes, yes, I know but the Mrs wanted it so I had to test it) that had put Mrs Biggly off upgrading as she is on level 400 and something. Now that path is clear so that one simple thing just got BlackBerry an extra sale too!

So, we’re all fired up, email accounts added, signed back in to my apps (guys, make sure you keep your passwords in Password Keeper is all I have to say) and we are good to go.

First up, the size. When you first hold a Passport in comparison to a rectangular phone it feels and looks HUGE. But that passes very quickly. Actually, it’s shorter and wider than the Z30 so I was pleased to note that it fitted comfortably in my front jeans pocket along with my wallet. In fact, it is pretty much the same size as my wallet. Can I hold it with one hand? Yes I can and it balances nicely, in fact I would say the squarer shape makes it more difficult to drop. You can reach the top of the screen and the fact that it is slightly shorter in length means that you are less likely to accidentally reboot it when bending over or sitting down (as happened sometimes with my Z30 as the top of the phone was pressed against my body). In fact I’ve had no incidences of that at all.

The screen is great. Sharp and clear and the extra space for apps (along with the ability in 10.3 tp make multi-page folders) just makes SENSE. Scrolling up and down is beautiful and smooth and web pages are a pleasure. BlackBerry Maps and Be Weather by the way look amazing! Documents just work better and they weren’t lying about the ability to work with spreadsheets.

Photographs on the Passport are superb. The detail you get is incredible and the addition in 10.3 that allows auto switching to the correct mode for the conditions revolutionises phone photography for amateurs such as me. I’ve taken low light and high background light shots with the Passport that I’d given up trying on with the Z30 – only because it turns out I didn’t know which mode to use. Now it’s a breeze. And that 13 MP camera isn’t too shabby either. Very clean and crisp.

Phone calls are clear and crisp, the microphone is better if, like me, you spend a lot of time with the phone pressed between cheek and shoulder then there’s no problem there, sometimes with the Z30 people would say I was muffled. No longer. And signal ability is as you would expect, superb and on a par with the Z30 I would say.

Battery life is also as you would expect… LOOOONNNGGGG….

Now, onto the meat – that keyboard.

I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t sure about going back to a physical keyboard. My last BBOS device was a Torch and I swore by it then, even refusing to touch the onscreen keys. I could blaze away all day and night. I was VERY nervous about going all touch but all that changed with my Z10. Suddenly I had all that and more with the ability to flick in the suggested words and let the space bar auto correct me. By the time I had a Z30 I was merrily writing articles here without a thought. So to go back to keys?

Well, for the first day or so it was difficult. I kept tapping the keys rather than pressing on them as that’s what I was used to. I kept hitting Z for Shift and M for comma. But after 2 or 3 days you get used to where things are and it all falls into place – even better than before! That fourth top row is a work of art changing to exactly what you need when you need it and the ability to still flick the suggested words up on the keyboard gives you the best of both worlds. PLUS swiping once from right to left to delete a word was a feature I used extensively on my Z series phones and was a major factor as to why I couldn’t get on with the Q10 when I tried that, I kept doing it across the keys and it drove me mad.

By today (day 10) I’m typing almost without looking at the keys. Something I never did with my Z phones (not that I wasn’t fast on them) but I’d forgotten that THAT’S WHAT I DID BEFORE. there’s something about a physical keyboard that allows you the accuracy but the Passport also gives you the speed that the flicking and swiping does on the Z phones.

To sum up, the wider aspect is great, you see so much more. The phone, antenna, screen and camera are fantastic and the capacitive keyboard gives ex physical or virtual keyboard users the best of both world, speed and accuracy, without having to compromise either. It fits neatly in the pocket and, my God does it turn heads! If you are going to own a Passport be prepared to be an object of interest!

So, that’s me after 10 days – I could go on about Blend and other 10.3 features which are just jaw dropping in places but if you haven’t got a Passport you’ll see those soon enough anyway. In the meantime, if you’ve got a Passport and want to let us know your ecxperiences feel free, or if you are looking to get one and have any questions please ask!


Bigglybobblyboo is a legend almost nowhere at all. He is a founder member of UTB and spends his spare time taking out his anger at the world with a fishfork and a spatula. He is also a Cribbage Master, having won 1 fight online as the other guy refused to turn up out of fear for his life.