BlackBerry Passport: The most unique phone of 2014?

News 8 Jul, 2014

BlackBerry Passport to feature 4.5in square display, 3GB RAM and 3450mAh battery

The BlackBerry Passport is expected to launch in September 2014, marking the introduction of a large square shaped 4.5in screen with a physical keyboard.

The experimental design comes as BlackBerry continues to seek a form factor to pair its well-designed physical keyboards with a large screen. Current generation devices, such as the Q10 and Q5, have screens which are limited to 3ins in size and while the Z10 has a 4in+ display, it is touch-only.

Think of the BlackBerry Passport as a phablet with a physical Qwerty keyboard.

So what can we expect in terms of specifications?

Display

The Passport is set to include a 4.5in screen with a 1440 x 1440 resolution. This helps to give it a mammoth pixel density of 453ppi. To put this in context, it should be sharper than existing flagship devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 (432ppi) and the Apple iPhone 5s (326ppi).

The most interesting feature is the square screen - which gives the device its unique look. This means users will no longer have to switch between portrait and landscape modes. This is crucial when you take into account the physical keyboard.

BlackBerry claims the Passport's screen size will make it ideal for looking at everything from schematics to x-rays, word documents and spreadsheets. Of course it's also going to make the handset ideal for web-browsing.


Keyboard

BlackBerry has cut down the keyboard to three rows. The physical keys are for letters input alone. Punctuation, numbers and even the ALT key have been given the chop and will appear on-screen depending on the context. It will be interesting to see how this works in practice.

The keyboard is touch sensitive too, so users will be able to ‘flick up’ on the keys and mimic predictive typing introduced on the touch-screen Z10.


Performance

The Passport will run the BB 10.3 operating system. It will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor and 3GB of RAM, specifications which are comparable to phablets in Samsung's Galaxy Note range.

Internal memory is shaping up to be 32GB with space to expand this with a micro SD card slot (up to 64GB). 

Battery life

The Passport will pack a large 3450mAh battery life, so usage times could be one of the standout features, particularly for enterprise users. 

Whilst testing out a pre-production device, CrackBerry claimed the handset retained 15 per cent battery life after 16 hours of usage.

Early impressions

So far CrackBerry has been the only publication to get extended time with the Passport. Although it looks like it could take users a while to get used to the unique design and keyboard, conclusions have been positive.

“It fits in dress shirt pockets and you can hold it with one hand. You just need two hands to use it. The battery lasts forever and the screen is a breath of fresh air for the 'cramped' Q10 users,” CrackBerry noted.

“The phone (if we can call it that) is meant for executives and serious businessmen who will now do more on their BlackBerry smartphones.”

With BlackBerry managing to retain customers in the enterprise market, the release of a truly big screen device is likely to be welcomed by those who still crave a physical keyboard. 

This article was updated on 8 July to include the first official image from BlackBerry

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