There are few things these days (especially smartphones) that have the ability to surprise me. I walked into work yesterday and a friend of mine points at me asking me to come over. He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out this slate-looking thing and turns it around. It was a BlackBerry Passport. I have not stopped smiling since then.
I'm guessing the excitement is there among BlackBerry users considering I woke up to a fully drained phone this morning from all the twitter chatter and I figured no better place than CrackBerry to share my experiences with it. In this pre-review, I'm not comparing it to any other devices because in all honesty, there is no real comparison to be made. It's in a league of its own.
[Editor's Note: This is a pre release pre-review of the BlackBerry Passport. It was written by @halobandit based on his views of using the device personally. Some of the information in this review is certainly subject to change because again, it's based on a pre release BlackBerry Passport that has been confirmed to NOT be a final hardware revision. Upon official release of the BlackBerry Passport we will have our own CrackBerry review as always when new BlackBerry smartphones hit the market.]
This is not your traditional BlackBerry. It's unlike anything you've ever held and an entirely new form factor. With this device, BlackBerry has created its own niche market. You won't find any university students using this. Don't expect the passport to be your go-to for selfies, or your music player at the gym. The much-loved Q10 was and still is a phenomenal device. It has now grown up and you are in for a treat.
The Passport is a completely different feel when you pick it up. It's not the classic design, not at this size. For a second it felt like I was picking up a sexy new twist to the original Gameboy and that's a compliment. The keyboard has a different feeling too. It's too wide for one hand. The keys are smoother than anything before. They're almost a tad slippery. I've been told that they have been improved upon since this generation of prototype. The backside had a felt-like feeling to it. Not like the Q10, but more like the Z10 and was easy to grip. With a phone this size and weight, the grippiness goes a long way.
This is not your traditional BlackBerry.
The Passport weighs in at 6 and 7/8th oz. Also, it's really wide. I know the screen is just as tall, but the keyboard makes it feel wide. I had a passerby say it looked like a flattened Sidekick. I couldn't help but agree. What it truly reminded me of was my trusted 8800. It had the same feel. The keys were wide too. I'll get to the keyboard in a bit, but the keys felt empty visually. It's because there were no other markings on it. No punctuation of any sort. Just plain dedicated QWERTY. It really threw me off.
The screen is one of such elegance, that it even made the most diehard iPhone user smile. It's got one of the sharpest screens out there and the UI that felt cramped on the Q10 now is unleashed in a fashion that renders you hopelessly in love. It's not the traditional screen. You want to type. On the left and right sides, it very gently curves down as it goes to meet the side. It's nothing that would change the looks of the phone, but it feels nicer. More buttery.
I have purchased every single iPhone. My biggest complaint about how thin they are is that, as they get thinner, they become increasingly more difficult to pick up off of a table if they are not in a case. The Passport has dealt with it. The bottom curves up enough to make it very easy to pick up. The sides have a sort of brushed aluminum look and the buttons on the right side are very nicely spaced out. On the top sits the familiar lock / standby / power button while the speaker opening is on the bottom.