Yes on top of the Blackberry Passport launch we have a new scandal. Apparently if you put your new iPhone 6 in your back pocket and sit down it bends. Granted I think anyone who puts their phone in their back pocket is an idiot but this showcases some of the design tradeoffs that Apple makes that Blackberry reverses. For Apple design, weight, and thin are high priorities which tends to result in phones that are very attractive but also relatively fragile. For Blackberry battery life, security, and practicality dominate and that makes for a very different phone and experience.
A phone for professionals
On the cover of my reviewer’s guide is a saying “Hot to be successful at everything: How I learned to get the most out of every week’s 168 hours”. This refers I’m sure to the fact that professionals don’t work a 40 hour work week and put in far more time than many of us might consider normal. Whether you are talking professional mechanic, chef, driver, or technician these people tend to buy relatively expensive tools that they use to do their job. These tool soften take longer to learn but once learned can get the job done more quickly and reliably.
The Blackberry Passport is like that. It isn’t an iPhone knock off, far from it, it is a very square phone with a physical keyboard. This means that when you are typing, and as a pro you are likely typing more often then you are watching videos, you have more of the screen to look at and documents and spreadsheets are far easier to read and use.
The keyboard is very unique piece of hardware in that it is both physical and virtual. You see the keys have sensors in them so you can swipe over the keyboard for fast swipe typing and you can also learn gestures to more quickly get you to special phone features.
This phone is sturdy and it uses a stainless steel frame rather than the aluminium frame that has been getting Apple in trouble this week and its antenna placement avoids the historic Apple Antennagate problem as well.
As mentioned above the phone is designed to be more secure and it is far harder to hack into a Blackberry and its included messaging service, BBM, is more secure as well and favoured by governments and intelligence agencies.
Battery life is impressive with an advertised 25 hours in mixed use. For many it should mean they can get away with around 3 days without charging for power users they won’t sweat the phone being out of power before their work day ends.
Memory is expandable and it will accept the new MicroSDXC (secure digital) cards as well as Micro SD cards again showcasing the performance focus.
One of the apps showcased at the launch was from Bloomberg and it targets traders and it is in this category, apps that target pros, that the Blackberry still has an advantage. While it still lags with consumer apps it now uses the Amazon App store which also supports the Fire Phone and Kindle platforms.
This means more apps are available now on the phone that a lot of us use (like Slacker Radio, Waze, and ADT’s Security App) and the increased potential customer base coupled with the relative ease to port apps from Android to this store should close the app gap significantly over the next few months.
Wrapping up: Impressive phone
The Blackberry Passport is an impressive and unique phone. It is really for pros who will take the time to learn the unique features, it isn’t for folks who just want an easy to use smartphone.
If you take the time it should be faster, it always will be more secure and more robust, and it should also give you an edge in terms of how much work you can get done on it. For those where getting ahead and every little advantage is important this is a unique and powerful tool for their toolkit.