I’m a convert. I’ve dumped my Android for… a BlackBerry. That’s right, I got a device made by the company which, as far as I (don’t) know, may not be in the handset making business next year. I may be wrong, but it could be that the Canadian company is moving away from the products business into (security) services. It’s hard to tell at the moment…
Nevertheless, I got the BlackBerry Passport; you know the one that’s been touted as the “world’s first business phablet.” It’s a huge phone but not in the way you used to. Forget the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Apple iPhone 6 Plus; it’s wider – not taller.
But I love it. That keyboard is awesome. Finally, I’m able to type a lot on the phone. While virtual keyboards are getting better with the day — I keep recommending SwiftKey to everyone I know — they can’t match physical keyboards. And if they [keyboards] also happen to be smart and touch sensitive, that’s even better.
So here are 5 reasons I wanted to give to anyone considering buying the Passport. Let’s roll…
This is obviously the first reason anyone would want a BlackBerry. But wait… I’ve already mentioned that’s smart keyboard, which is unlike any other BlackBerry smartphone rocks. Although it has just three rows, you won’t notice the difference (efficiency-wise). Special characters appear on the screen. Plus, thanks to the touch sensors built inside the keyboard, you can use it to scroll around web pages and quickly erase whole words while typing.
The Passport packs top-notch hardware that includes Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 quad-core chip, along with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. This combo ensures smooth scrolling with no glitches whatsoever. I’ve been using it for a month now, even running Android apps (more about that in a sec), and it keeps working like it’s brand new.
This “thing” has a screen that’s so different from anything we’ve seen before. We saw square displays in the past but not a single one with resolution like this one. The 4.5-inch display has 1440×1440 pixels for a ppi pixel density of ~453. That’s rather impressive when you think about it. In comparison, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has a ppi count of 518 (it’s slightly better), while the iPhone 6 Plus tops at 326.
Yes, apps. Thanks to BlackBerry’s partnership with Amazon, you get to run Android apps out of box. Amazon’s Appstore doesn’t have all of the apps Google Play Store has, but there’s SNAP to help you out. Basically, that’s a Google Play Store client for BB10 which you’ll have to sideload to be able to run all of the Android apps you want. You will have some problems with apps requiring Google Play Services, though. This also happens to be related to the only downside I’ll list in here.
5. Different (with a reason)
The BlackBerry Passport is different than any other phone on the market today. And it’s not just different for the “sake of being different.” It’s a novel product many have been waiting for. That being said, it’s also important to add that Passport is not made for everyone; rather the Canadian company is targeting busy professionals who desperately want the physical keyboard. For them, this is a God-send device that will also happen to be a head-turner and instant conversation starter.
The downside – wearables support
Here’s one thing I don’t like about the Passport. It doesn’t support many of today’s wearables, and wearable device makers seldom consider making their products compatible with BlackBerry 10 OS. You can use Pebble with Passport, but no Android Wear watch will work with it. Smart watches running Google’s wearable platform require Google Play Services, which at the time of this writing, is not possible to install on the Passport.
So the question is — presuming you do want a big phone with physical keyboard — do you need an Android Wear (and Apple Watch, for that matter) support or not? If you answered no, the BlackBerry Passport may be the device worth buying. What do you say?