16 Reasons Why Everybody Should LOVE The BlackBerry Passport

dsc_4470Bored of Android? Sick iPhones? Maybe it’s time you tried something a little different –– something like the BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry Passport. It’s a pretty weird name for a phone, but appropriately so when you consider how weird that phone is in the first place. BlackBerry’s most recent flagship launched to many raised eyebrows and quizzical looks from the tech press, but the consumer reaction was highly mixed, it’s become the definition of a “Marmite” device – people either love the thing like it’s going out of fashion, or can’t stand the sight of it. Here at KYM, we were actually quite intrigued by this squarish handset’s peculiar charms while it was still a leaky rumour, and we couldn’t wait to get to grips with it to see if it lived up to our expectations.

And as it turned out, it did. We’re not in the majority though, most other sites seem to have given it a good kicking. We remain impressed though, giving it 4.5 out of 5 in our BlackBerry Passport Review, which if you’re interested in this gadget at all, you should definitely check out if you have not already done so.

But as Mr. Dylan said: The Times They Are A Changin’…

And, lord knows, BlackBerry needed something big to get it out of its three-year downward spiral in the consumer space. Back in 2012, many thought Thorsten Heins proposals would propel the company back in to contention with an emphasis on THE PLATFORM and enabling as much productivity as possible but sales did not reflect confidence in the man’s vision. New CEO John Chen has built on what Heins’ developed and added in a lot more besides. And the result was an excellent finish to 2014 for the company.

BlackBerry’s 2015 was pretty quiet, by and large. The company released a mid-range handset in the form of the BlackBerry Leap and drilled down on its BB10 software, adding in new features and refining the overall experience. However, things began heating up BIG TIME in Q2/Q3 once word got out about the company’s plans to release an Android-powered handset called the BlackBerry PRIV. That handset is now official and available inside the UK and it is EASILY one of the most exciting releases of the year.

BlackBerry’s John Chen detailed why his company had chosen to move to Google’s Android platform: “At the same time, we are focused on making faster progress to achieve profitability in our handset business. Today, I am confirming our plans to launch Priv, an Android device named after BlackBerry’s heritage and core mission of protecting our customers’ privacy. Priv combines the best of BlackBerry security and productivity with the expansive mobile application ecosystem available on the Android platform.”

BlackBerry still has a long way to go before it is in the clear, however, and a recent note from investment firm Morgan Stanley doesn’t paint a particularly pretty picture for the firm’s current hardware lineup. Sales of the Passport and Classic were way below expected levels –– BlackBerry needs to sell between 2 and 3 million before the close of 2016. The company also plans to generate $500 million from software in the same period. Morgan Stanley is not confident it will achieve either.

BlackBerry 10.3 is a great platform, though, replete with excellent features and a much-needed new look that makes it instantly more appealing than previous builds seen on the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10. I really enjoyed getting reacquainted with BlackBerry 10 and a keyboard and, generally speaking, had pretty much all my expectations blown out of the water by the Passport. Prior reviews I’d read had simply lampooned the handset, which made me start to question my judgement –– was I even reviewing the same device? Turns out I was, but that as they say is another story entirely, so we’ll just put that down to different strokes for different folks.

Here are 16 things that make the BlackBerry Passport stand out for the crowd.

Design –– Different is GOOD

Everything looks the same these days. Just look around you: all handsets are a variation on a theme, using the same rectangular proportions and screen layout. The BlackBerry Passport is like no other, however, with its squared-off design, ultra-wide chassis, physical QWERTY keyboard and premium build materials. Like the Tesla Model S, it’s eye-catching and more and more people are slowly waking up to the fact that, actually, this style might just work.

Display

Unlike a lot of Android handsets these days, BlackBerry –– like Apple –– has opted to stick with 1080p resolution displays on its flagship handset rather than the now-flavour-of-the-month QHD standard. And the upshot of this is a still-awesome visual experience with excellent colour and contrast as well as brilliant battery life (QHD panels guzzle juice like a lush in a distillery).

DAT QWERTY

Yep, the keyboard is definitely one of the high-points of the Passport. Prior to my review of the handset, I was initially a bit dubious about switching back to a physical QWERTY but after just a few minutes it all started to come back to me and a day or two later I was hooked. Also, the keyboard on the Passport is perhaps the best BlackBerry keyboard I’ve ever used –– and that’s saying something when you consider the lineage of handsets the company has produced. It just seamlessly straddles the hardware and software, making everything quicker and emails a dream.

Battery Life’s Great
The BlackBerry Passport is in the top 1% of smartphones in this regard. With medium use you’re looking at a good couple of days. Heavy usage, which, lets face it most of us do, will see you through a full charge in just over 24 hours. No other handset –– including the excellent iPhone 6 Plus –– can hold a candle to the BlackBerry Passport in this context.

Awesome Specs AND Hardware
BlackBerry handsets of old often lacked a lot of the hardware and spec capabilities found inside their Android and iOS-powered counterparts. The BlackBerry Passport bucks that trend completely and features a raft of high-end spec and hardware, including a Snapdragon 801 CPU, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage AND an updated 13MP camera with Optical Image Stabilisation.

It RUNS Android Apps
With BlackBerry 10.3 it is EVEN easier to install Android applications on your BlackBerry Passport because all the .BAR converting is done on device, saving you oodles of time. This is a brand new feature of BB10.3 and the long and short of this new ability is this: access to Google Play. I know, amazing! All you need to do is download SNAP and you’re away. That’s it. Simple –– and it also pretty much solves the whole app-gap problem, too.

BB10 Native Apps Are Actually Really, Really Nice
But let’s not forget just how nice native BB10 applications can actually be. Just look at this one for USA Today. It’s easy to use, looks great and takes advantage of all that wonderful screen real estate you have at your disposal. Now all we need is more!