Correspondent Al Sacco told CIO.com about five undoubted merits of this unique and innovative device and its four features that most likely you do not like.
BlackBerry company officially announced the sales of its new smartphone Passport. I managed to get to know him better – it turned out that the new device like no one smartphone that I’ve seen before. It has a large, square shape and a lot of physical buttons that are not too comfortable. And definitely do not suit everyone. But this is the highlight of most, perhaps, interesting and unique device ever produced by the company.
Before proceeding to the description of its features, I would like to say that my article is not intended to be a comprehensive overview and assessment of the Passport. It was painted directly on the device during a flight from Boston to San Francisco.
Smartphone remained in my possession less than a week, but this is not enough to fully cover all the features of the hardware, software and multiple functions of Passport.
Those who want to get an idea of Passport and the ideal for this smart phone user, I want to tell a number of facts (both good and bad), which you probably do not know.
What I liked
A truly unique feature of the BlackBerry Passport is its keyboard, which combines both traditional BlackBerry physical and touch keys. Three rows of physical buttons are supplemented by four rows of soft keys displayed on the screen. However, the physical buttons also supports touch technology, allowing for faster dialing and navigation, you can use a variety of gestures.
Presenting in January 2013 review model BlackBerry Z10, I just fell in love with her on-screen keyboard and predictive text input system. It was quite unique and I liked very much. But on speed dial touch pad can not be compared with the physical (at least, on the way to enter text, which I adhere). And when a few months later was released smartphone BlackBerry Q10 – the first BlackBerry device 10 with the “real” physical keyboard, I immediately pushed Z10 pigeonholed table.
Availability of Passport as a sensory physical buttons and on-screen keyboard takes us into the world of mobile standard keyboards. This solution helps to improve the efficiency of your smartphone. Trying to type this text in its new iPhone 6, I did it very slowly. Can not say that typing on Passport is ideal, but it is still better than trying to squeeze into the seat airplane in economy class, along with a laptop equipped with 15-inch screen.
Get used to the keyboard Passport was not easy. It is clear that not everyone wants to spend more time mastering the system. (More on this later.) But I must say that the smartphone is equipped with the most innovative Passport keyboard, which I only ever met so far, and the more time I spent for it, the more I liked it.
Model BlackBerry Passport has a large and capacious battery. According to experts BlackBerry, capacity in 3450 mA.ch should be enough for 25 hours of work in mixed mode. And if Apple claims that under certain conditions, iPhone 6 Plus can be in standby mode for 16 days, developers Passport say as much as 18 days.
At eight o’clock in the morning, right before takeoff in Boston I have included a fully charged smartphone BlackBerry Passport, which is in the network AT & T. For three hours during a six-hour flight, I was gaining on his keyboard text of the article, and then started to listen to music. Upon arrival in San Francisco, I was able to climb over the Internet, perform other tasks and evaluate the quality of photos taken the night before. Then I looked at the end of a baseball game and responded to incoming messages. All this time, Passport does not have access to an electrical outlet. And after 29 hours after the device is left in the battery showed 38%. An impressive figure.
Unfortunately, the battery is a fixed structures, and replace it is not so easy. Of course, it is sad. Most previous models of BlackBerry phones were equipped with removable batteries, why all grown accustomed.
Design and Build Quality
BlackBerry Passport device is classified as high-end models, with appropriate design and build quality. Director BlackBerry Management software products Klyuli Michael once said that the idea was inspired by the design of the device internal steel structure tower TD Centre in Toronto. Stainless steel band encircling the entire body of the phone. It is made from a single piece of metal and has no joints. All this gives the device a solid appearance.
However, I received the first copy of Passport had hardware imperfections, and so serious that we had to exchange it for another device. Get the smartphone out of the box and tried to turn it on, I noticed that the removable panel covering the SIM card and memory card slot, half out of her nest. Snap into place she did not want, and I had to open it fully. And after I replace the cover, Passport started cyclically reboot, and it all went as long as I do not detach the cover again. Once the cover is installed in its place, the device starts to reboot. After several attempts, it turned out that the cover is just touching the power button and put the device into sleep mode, so that it restarts.
The beginning was not very successful, and I do not know, was the cause of all this bad design of the case, or something else. Whatever it was, a copy of Passport, used by me now, looks good and seems to be very strong, but if it turns out that I was not the only victim of unsuccessful placement of the power button, I was not surprised.
Stainless steel bezel gives the device a solid appearance.
Speaker and sound quality
BlackBerry Passport model is equipped with a very high quality speaker. And this is important, because it is, after all, talking about the phone, and keep the device dimensions 128×90,3×9,3 mm at the ear is not always convenient, especially if you have small hands and head.
Two connectors for external speakers will help amplify the sound and distribute it in the desired direction. I regularly use the speakerphone on a variety of devices during the interview, and built-in speaker Passport – one of the biggest that I have met so far. Klyuli even believes that in some cases it may well replace the speaker Polycom or other external speakers.
The model Passport implemented a number of different audio technologies to improve the quality of sound, but my very short experience with a smartphone does not allow arguments to judge.
Two openings for speakers to help amplify the sound and distribute it in the desired direction.
BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Blend
BlackBerry Blend – a new software component that provides access to applications on the BlackBerry Passport PC, Mac, iPad and tablets Android. (On the iPhone and Android it will not work.) Blend allows you to link corporate smartphones Passport with devices not related to the BlackBerry, and safely treat them to e-mail, contacts, calendars, and other resources on channels VPN. The devices connected to the Blend, the data is not stored, however, from the viewpoint of safety, there is no risk here. (You can not, however, using the Blend share BlackBerry Connect to the Internet.)
However, try this application I have not failed. On my BlackBerry device company it somehow is not supported. I only managed to see a detailed demonstration. I have seen the software interface looks quite functional, but, frankly, seemed too cumbersome and outdated.
The very appearance of the component BlackBerry Blend can be considered no less important than its appearance and functionality. Smartphone BlackBerry Passport is the first in many years, the device BlackBerry, about which we can just say that this is what is intended. The designers did not try to cover them all that is possible, and to offer everyone. Among BlackBerry clearly understand that their target audience are also Mac users and PC, and possibly the owners of the iPad and Android. Software Blend will help to improve the interaction of all your existing devices and platforms.
According Klyuli, software components Blend should please and IT departments as they help to reduce the total cost of ownership per user and implement the concept of BYOD (bring your own device). Blend on the example of the company can explain corporate users of smartphones Passport, that they should not connect their personal devices to corporate networks. Enough to have just one model Passport, which can be accessed from the different equipment.
Summing up, it is worth noting that the BlackBerry Passport has a bright personality and a clear purpose, so that its appearance is quite capable of causing a new interest in the products BlackBerry.
BlackBerry Blend provides access to applications on the BlackBerry Passport PC, Mac, iPad and tablets Android.
What you may not like it
Personally, I liked the keyboard Passport, but there are probably those who deem it not too comfortable. As previously mentioned, it requires an addictive time. Some sensory functions and gestures work better than others. Specific time will it take to learn that it makes sense to use and what to avoid.
I think many of those who have already had grown to love the old keyboard BlackBerry, consider a combination of sensory and physical keys excessive. You will not only learn how it all works, but also actively train, otherwise you will not be able to appreciate the unique functionality offered by developers. So if you like to dig in the instructions and numerous opportunities to learn new techniques, Passport will be a good acquisition. For those who need a clear and intuitive interface that does not require time and effort to learn, Passport hardly suitable.
Big and bulky
Like the keyboard BlackBerry Passport, size and shape of the device also require getting used to. This product can be called the largest phone (or even Phablet, although BlackBerry prefer to talk only about the phone), but essentially it does not change – you have in your hands is something big and square. The presence of a physical keyboard and a square display (as opposed to elongated and thin screens of most modern phones and tablets) make this device is largely ambiguous and even repulsive.
In its form and size Passport is really very similar to the traveler’s passport, though, of course, and noticeably thicker. It’s pretty great device, but compared to the bulky iPhone 6 Plus Sizes its not that great, at least for me.
I’ve been adjusting to the fact that I was comfortable to hold it in your hands. It is in your hands, because to hold it with one hand is quite impossible. Typing with your thumb while holding Passport other hand, very uncomfortable – so uncomfortable that this process, if not impossible, it really definitely irrational.
I have big hands and I experimented a lot, trying to find a comfortable position for himself when typing. Wide and short physical keyboard at the bottom of the device. When typing is necessary to clean the base of the palm of the keyboard, which is hardly an ideal situation. The device at the same time seems to be too heavy and unbalanced.
Display size Passport I liked. The large screen you can see more information on Web pages, for presentations and viewing documents. But when typing long messages or writing articles such a display is not very convenient.
Passport square shape contrasts with the long and thin screens of most modern phones.
The main claim to the BlackBerry Passport for me are the errors and incompleteness of its software. (On my device was installed operating system BlackBerry OS 10.3.0.675.) Applications often crash or stop responding when you switch to them from other programs. From time to time I have had problems with switching camera modes. Does when changing settings podvisal and terminates. And just a few examples of many.
Dampness software surprises. In memory up memories of past models of BlackBerry, in which software is also not all was well. But in the current situation I expected from a new device more.
Passport on the device already installed Amazon App Store for Android.
Passport – the first model of BlackBerry, on which the application is installed Amazon App Store for Android. There is also access to the official app store BlackBerry (BlackBerry World), which stores the programs developed for BlackBerry devices in the past, and applications for corporate clients. Shop Amazon App Store, where more than 200 thousand. Applications Android, designed primarily for end-users. At least, I think so, although I’m not sure. Whatever it was, the presence of two stores in any case confuses users confused.
On the device, Passport applications are running Android. Theoretically, all of the programs featured in the shop Amazon, should work well. But in practice, some do not run, and some do not work as claimed. I, in particular, had several times to restart the Passport, to launch the application Amazon Kindle, Instant Video and Music. Often necessary to further customize the application by adjusting the size of their windows, designed for other screens.
Shop Amazon App Store increases the number of offers for users of devices BlackBerry, but overall, the experience is poor compared to other leading mobile platforms.
Thanks to the responsive touch technology, you can scroll through web pages, play a clicking sound when you press the button and move the cursor on the screen by sliding your finger across the keys.
From my description is clear that the device is intended for Passport quite specific users: those who already have two (or more) phone, a tablet (or maybe two), PC, wearable device, and even some appliances, and who first performance and efficiency values. Productivity – a word that at a meeting with the production of BlackBerry I repeat often.
Passport – business destination device, excels under certain conditions. But at the same time, it is in many ways inferior to competitors, which means that to access other popular smartphone features you need another phone.
About worn with a straight two smartphones are mentioned. But if you’re like most business people are accustomed to be limited to one, Passport, probably will be not the best choice. My experience has shown that this smartphone in many ways inferior to high-end devices offered on other platforms. And if I had to look for a single phone, suitable for both work and entertainment, they obviously would not Passport.
In many ways, BlackBerry Passport liked me. This is not something the device with which I can easily say goodbye ready immediately after writing the review. Excellent keyboard, but somewhat bulky design. Battery life is worthy of all praise. A good build and a large display that increases productivity on your mobile device. If you are among experienced users who primarily value the business functions and then opportunities for entertainment, Passport you enjoy.
However, the software leaves much to be desired. This is largely due to the large number of remaining errors in it. The keyboard requires some getting used to, and some gestures do not work as we would like. The device has a large size, which for some users will be too great. And if you want to carry only one device, you should look for some other option.
To summarize, it should be said that the company BlackBerry deserves praise for trying to create a truly innovative and unique smartphone that is different from all the others on the market today. The world of smartphones is getting too boring. Many manufacturers simply copy ready-made solutions from each other. In these circumstances, see the new product, such as BlackBerry Passport, I was pleased.
Read another very interesting article about alternative energy of the Sun, water and air.