Contributing member Matthew Miller is the latest tech reviewer to take a look at the BlackBerry Passport and give it a thumbs up (or is that two WIDE thumbs up)?
In a world of black slabs, one company dared to be different. 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.
Initially Matthew was skeptical about the viability of such an oddly shaped device that flew in the face of (what has become) traditional design for smartphones. I have to admit, when images first leaked online of the Passport, I completely shared that pessimism:
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.
Not only that but Matthew, like many BlackBerry QWERTY faithful, had some serious concerns about the radical rethink of the keyboard (losing alt, sym and non-letter mappings):
When I first saw that the Passport only had three rows of keys, I thought it was destined to fail. Once again BlackBerry showed me the error in my initial impressions: Additional characters show up in one to four rows above the hardware keyboard, based upon the context of the text entry field. This behavior is absolutely brilliant and I was able to figure out how to enter text quickly in no time.
And about those ‘concerns’ that the BlackBerry Passport is a two handed device? (it isn’t entirely, but let’s go with it):
The Passport is clearly a two-handed device, but the era of single-handed smartphone use is over so that is not something to worry about. The width allows BlackBerry to provide you with ample key sizes, angled to perfectly support thumb typing. The space bar is a bit small — the width of two typical keys — but I haven’t had a problem missing it or anything.
Sometimes a picture isn’t worth a thousand words – sometimes you need to experience the real thing. That proved to be true for Matthew, and it seems to be the case with many others. Anecdotally, I know that when I’ve handed my Passport to friends and colleagues for the 2 minute demo, their initial surprise at the size is quickly overcome by the beautiful wide display, learning of the battery life, and just feeling the device in their hands. A big favourite is watching me scroll through a web page or document by lightly sliding my thumb up the keyboard.
In his concluding remarks, he makes a note that confirms my suspicions about some other tech reviewers out there (regarding a bias on BlackBerry) and kudos to Matthew for pointing it out and being honest:
I was going to skip testing out the BlackBerry Passport, but my curiosity got the best of me and I am thankful that it did. The BlackBerry 10 OS has always interested me with the fantastic BlackBerry Hub, swiping interface, and app expansion through Android.
Anyway, he goes into more of the details of using the device but I won’t copy and paste his entire article here – the link to the full review is posted at the bottom. Only one thing I’d note: he mentions under CONS that the Passport is “Missing Native BB10 Apps”. I’m not entirely sure what he means by that as I don’t see any missing but if you know, please drop a comment.
And in an ironic reversal, Matthew makes a interesting observation:
BlackBerry has always been known for its hardware QWERTY keyboards and when the company moved to the BlackBerry 10 OS, consumer-focused all touchscreen devices were launched first, with the QWERTY Q10 coming a few months later. Enterprise and government BlackBerry users continued to use older QWERTY devices. (I still see many government employees using BB 7 devices.) Now they can jump to the Passport and stop carrying around an iPhone to satisfy their modern smartphone needs.