New images show off the contextual portion of the BlackBerry Passport keyboard

By Bla1ze on 25 Jun 2014 06:29 pm EDT

Although BlackBerry CEO John Chen has gone hands on with the BlackBerry Passport and despite the fact we now know more about the keyboard on the whole, we've yet to really see the keyboard as it was meant to be used in action. As it was described by BlackBerry, the keyboard will offer different options depending on where you are in the OS and what application you're using.

In addition to the Passport's very clean physical QWERTY keyboard, we have added a dynamic virtual row on-screen that smartly shifts depending on context. So if you're typing a password on-screen, numbers and symbols commonly used in passwords will automatically pop up. Or if you're typing an e-mail address, the '@' symbol will be displayed. Or if you're surfing the Web, the colon and backslash characters needed to type in a URL will be displayed. And if you need access to any special symbol or character, just swipe down on the keyboard to see all of them at once.

It's an interesting idea and a new way to make use of the keyboard but how does it all look? Well, some new images offer up a first look at how it will all be implemented though they do in some ways raise even more questions about how the keyboard will work. Have a look through them, there's only three for now.

I'm not so sure about the on-screen buttons on the side, they seem to be too small to me but maybe it's just the images. Of course, leaked images never tell the full story anyway as we all should have learned from the first batch leaked images of the Passport. People hated the device and have now fallen in love with it. I really want to see someone who has been using the keyboard for a while now actually putting to use. A video of that would be nice right about now.

Reader comments

New images show off the contextual portion of the BlackBerry Passport keyboard


What is the point of having a physical and touch screen keyboard simultaneously??
I personally find it is really useless to have such a gimmick feature on a square uncomfortable to grip phone.

Skip.. and will eagerly wait for the full touch high end Z50.

Posted via CB10

I had a similar thought, but we will justly have to wait to see how they exactly implement it. Blackberry has always been strongest in their keyboards, so i expect this to be quite amazing. Prove me right Blackberry!

Posted via CB10

Think of the Passport as a landscape touchscreen phone with extra left/right (or top/down) screen space. The extra space is used to show extra functionality to augment the extra large touchpad that has physical keys.

That's what I'm thinking, too. Landscape phone with extra vertical space for scrolling and keyboard extensions. Awesome.

Pasted via CB chen

Can't agree more. With the additional soft keyboard on screen, the 4.7" screen shrinks even more.

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry has a long history of taking one step forward and two steps backward. My three-row physical keyboard on the BlackBerry Q5 has letters, numbers and various symbols. Why can't the BlackBerry Passport provide the same? Yes, I know there is a fourth row on the BlackBerry Q5 but it is left and right shift, symbol, and spacebar.

Posted via CB10 on BlackBerry Q5

You all raise very valid points but there is another way to look at this. Firstly, countering the screen estate argument, this is only there when you are typing. When not typing, you have all the screen real estate available. Secondly from a productivity perspective, could this increase typing speed having the keyboard and symbols and number up all at once eliminating the need to hold down the shift key when typing but instead directly just press the required symbols or numbers. I mean, when I looked at the picture, I wasn't at all fond of the virtual keyboard but I think this might be their logic. Personally though, I wish it wasn't too late to add symbols and a dedicated shift key at least. We'll see where BB is headed with this.

I think were looking at a hybrid electromechanical and touch-screen keyboard combination. Typing speed, ease of use and productivity could the three driving factors here. If so it's a radical solution combining old and new school together.

Think about the quick search feature on the blackberry Q10 where you can get to anywhere in the os by just starting to type a word.

This is the advantage I see to the 3-row physical keyboard.
Not sure if this phone is easily pocketable. If so, I may have to get it.

Actually I have wondering what that is too. It looks like a camera or sensor, been seeing that in many images.

Posted via CB10

Contacts, docs, settings, music, video, pictures, browser, calendar. Can't make out the rest. Not sure what the purpose is though

The more I learn about the passport the longer these months will feel before Verizon come around to releasing the passport.

Posted via Z30 C0002FDEF

No kidding. I'd be surprised if there isn't a delay between when Canada/UK/other countries get the Passport and when the U.S. gets it.

Give yourself a pat on the back for admitting it. :-)

People have judged the Z10, and then the Q10 prematurely, but you have to commit to a device for a month to learn the ins and outs of it, after that you're entitled to pass valid judgement or even write a review....

Pasted via CB chen

Speaking of Verizon, is there any word on what carriers will have this? Hate to get excited about something my carrier will not have. I just left Sprint for Verizon to get the Z30 (and I was totally fed up with dropped calls).

Posted via CB10

Looking at the image, it seems like the first row will show up. Then there is an "up" arrow or "@123" to extend more characters above it. And then also a "down" arrow to minimize it again. As seen on the far right and left of first row.

So for the most part it will only take up one row of the screen when needed.

Posted via CB10

Two points: 1) it's only there while you're actually entering text. If you're browsing a web page, for instance, the top row will only appear when you tap inside a text box. 2) Even then, it will only be one row (not "half the screen") unless the user needs symbols.

Posted from CB10 running on my awesome Z30 2B6927F7

Yup and from what I gather the one row will remain and change depending on the situation i.e. regular punctuation or numbers. The full three rows will show up only if you swipe down on the keyboard like you would on the Z touchscreen keyboards.

Posted via CB10

Still having two keyboards in a device? Virtual keyboard takes half the screen if numbers and symbols are required, and yet there is another huge physical keyboard below.

Yeah but only when you need the full virtual keyboard will it show up. Like stated before, common punctuations will show up on screen for one row when in certain context, but if you need the full virtual keyboard just swipe down and bam it's there.

So really it's only small occasions when you'll have the full virtual keyboard covering the screen.

Posted via CB10

Small occasions? whenever you need to type numbers you need the virtual keyboard thus taking half of the screen. Removing one row is causing few hassles. I do like the capacitive KB functions.

One row, as Bla1ze stated, is not by anyone's definition "half the screen." Exaggeration in an attempt to support an argument is a logical fallacy, and only makes your argument appear weak.

My apologies, Arvind; after getting a better look at the pictures, I see that it's not just the top row; the entire keyboard appears to be duplicated, which is redundant to say the least. I withdraw my criticism and join with you in judging this representation of the finished product as ridiculous.

True. its like having two set of keyboards on a device. And look at the size of the virtual keyboard. it takes half of the screen. Physical keyboard just for typing alphabets? I thought Passport will be a great device. I know leaks don't justify. Lets wait and see.

I don't think you have to go to the virtual keyboard when you type in numbers. The way it looks to me is that when you swipe down on the physical keyboard the screen will show an overlay-esque version of the physical keyboard. Let me give you an example: let's say you want to put an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence, all you would do is, swipe down on the capacitive keyboard and on the screen a virtual keyboard would appear, showing which physical key you have to press for the exclamation mark. I am sure you would also be able to press the virtual keyboard, but why would you?!

Posted via CB10

Yes. This^^ Just like the Q10 works now.

Posted while peeking and flowing on my incredible BBQ10! 

I have become faster at typing on my z30 than I have ever been with q10 or 9900.

All I want is a faster processor, better camera and longer battery life. Sign me up for any BlackBerry device that delivers.

Posted via CB10

Obviously a lot of pent up energy held back until CrackBerry Kevin stepped aside and promoted "the slacker." ;-) At this rate Bla1ze will have written and published the equivalent of more than 1 article per hour each standard 40-hour work week within the first year. Until then his vacation time has been revoked by CrackBerry Kevin.

Posted via CB10 on BlackBerry Q5

I doubt that you have to touch the screen, though you could. It correlates to the keyboard and would disappear as quickly as it takes to tap a key.

Posted via CB10

Q10 keyboard with the touch sensitive feature would have been so much better and innovative at the same time. Why ruin a good thing!? I guess I will have to try before I judge

Posted via CB10

The icons on the right side of the screen are just thumbnails to break down the category of your search result with Intelligent Assistant. They act as a "scrubber" like the contacts app with the index of icons on the side.

Posted via CB10

Does John Chen have big hands or is the Passport super slim?
This could be the best-looking phone on the market! Period!

Posted via CB10

I'm drooling so much it is not even funny anymore. :)
"No no I can't take it no more..." lol

Posted via CB10

I'd rather keep some mystery to this device. Sort of how Apple does it.
I realize this is not how Crackberry operates.

Posted via CB10

The difference is that Apple can keep their produce a mystery and it will still sell. BlackBerry is so far behind, that the only way they can sell, is to release almost everything.

Blackberry always.....

So, that bottom row is the one they mentioned to be permanent, and THAT will have a virtual Shift key? SMH, enthusiasm going down again, looks like the virtual part will not respond to physical keys after all...
I really am not looking forward to being forced to use both physical keys and a virtual keyboard 50/50, talk about wasted screen real estate. :(

Too bad, my interest in this device had only been rising for the last few weeks.

BlackBerry 10 signed.

Totally agree. I do not want to use both a virtual and physical keyboard on same phone. Its ok for those symbols we dont use often. But for numbers and comma, dash etc its crazy to have to take my hands off keyboard and touch screen. Plus just puts more fingerprints on it :(

Q10, running

That is exactly what I was thinking. For a good 'blind typing' experience the symbols need to have easy access too. Even if there is a great contextual row of symbols, as long as they are not fixed you can not type blind.

Well I still have faith that the end result will be good. They should have been typing an trying this device for a long time, if it truly was worse than a 4-row KB I think they would have scrapped it.

BlackBerry 10 signed.

Poor implementation and waste of screen real estate. I loved the device with the hype going on. But this leak just brought down my interest.

That was just a silly rumour that has around for a while. Something about it being too expensive with the current technology.

BlackBerry 10 signed.

I haven't really paid much attention to app availability on the Q10 vs my Z10. Are most apps available for this screen "shape"?

Posted via CB10

Am I the only one who can't seem to access the photos? I see one photo and neither swiping nor long pressing on it brings up any further images.

The more I read about this device the more I want it. I hope to see at whatever carriers location will have it then make a decision. Definitely if bigger than the Z30 and a good replacement for the PlayBook it will be joining my BlackBerry family of devices.

Posted Via CB10 Using my Great Z30, PB or Q10

I really hope it will do alternative language pop up keyboards. I would much prefer a qwerty device but I I need to type in, Кириллицы, as well. So far the q10 can't do this on screen. It would be a simple thing for them to add.

Posted via CB10

Here is my theory. Have you ever used the native calculator on BlackBerry. You can use the keyboard to activate the numbers for you. The point of the virtual is to show you what your pushing and where it would be on the actual key board. Hope I made sense of that.

If I am wrong then the devise is not for me.

Posted via CB10

I also think this is it...
We won't need to touch the screen, but use the keyboard to activate symbols, numbers, etc...seems nice and fast!

They could have very well printed those symbols and number on the keys then. Just a gesture or swiping could have made things easier.

I really feel blackberry us going too far till the extent of over-doing it. What's wrong with the current keyboard? Can't just stick to the 4-row design with that big squarish screen? For me it's kinda redundant to type on both physical and virtual keyboard, especially when it comes to punctuation and numbers. Imma keep my Q10 until it gives up on me hahaha.

Posted via CB10

I love the passport but why to have two keyboards in one device? a virtual and a physical? losing more screen real estate. I don't like the implementation, at least in the leaks.

I am seriously intrigued by the Passport. I love BlackBerry for putting out innovative products. I do feel a couple of things are still bizarre though, even after the impressive statement they put out about it:
1) The keys are clearly farther away proportionally than say, the Q10, as it is a much wider device. How then can the space bar be inserted literally between the v and b keys? This will disrupt normal keyboard typing. Why else even have a physical keyboard?
2) The virtual keyboard onscreen for extra characters and the like...thinking about how often I just use punctuation, not necessarily weird or accent characters - this seems laborious, just in principle. Compare this with how easy and fast it is to type and add a period or apostrophe using a Bold or Q10.

It seems like BB is trying to appease both the person who prefers a keyboard, and the person who wants a virtual one. That may end up frustrating both types of users though, is my concern.

Posted via CB10

We can't jump into conclusions about the keyboard quite yet based off one picture. Like Bla1ze mentioned, this could be an early development. Let's just wait and see.


I think the large square screen and touch sensitive keyboard I'd awesome but the idea to pop up the rest for figures and special characters is not so smart. They should have provided a full keyboard, like in Q10. Why mess up something that works well already. Mixing up the 2 concepts make it more complicated with few benefits. The phone is already large and adding 1/4 of inch for the rest of the keyboard whould not boder absolutely nobody. Like the storm, the brilliant concept is not cooked well to the end. I see the design logic, behind only 3 rows of keys but again putting lab aesthetics intestead of function and practicality is not the blackberry way. I see the format drawing a lot of new users, but hardcore keyboard people will keep complaining. Also, not having dedicated call buttons is a let down, assuming that the rest of the utility "belt" is rendered useless by the touch keys... why Blackberry, why?? and the rounded corners?? This is a feature and a trademark blackberry design shape..

I don't know about this. It kind of reminds me of the torch virtual keyboard which I hated. Why not keep the 4 row keyboard with the touch gestures?

Why not just add a 4th row and add all the symbols in the keys as usual like Q10. But also use the keyboard as trackpad that would be amazing save all the on screen symbol stuff.
Also suggestions only on screen and swipe up.

Why didn't they just do that what's the point of a big screen if half covered with keyboard don't understand

Mr A Hanif BlackBerry10

This willl sell well with the crackberry faithful. But the general public will scratch their heads and pass. Nice idea though. But still can't see why it has to be half and half? Keep it either full touch or full qwerty? Right?

Posted via CB10

At this point I might pass on the BlackBerry Passport. I prefer my physical keyboard to be like the BlackBerry Q5.

Posted via CB10 on BlackBerry Q5

I still think the Classic looks better.
I don't know how the Passport is gonna fit in my hand. Will have to wait and see.


I just really want to be stubborn and stick with what is most comfortable and fluid for me, so i'm sticking by the Classic.

The thumbs will have to travel too much.
The last row of physical KB is already low that hands should be adjusted for comfortable holding and typing. And then to reach the higher row of virtual KB, our hands will have to move out of this position. That would mean constant adjustment of our hands while typing. It's going to be some soring hands.
May be the first negative thing about this Passport.

My guess is that the down arrow in the bottom right of the virtual keyboard allows for minimization down to potentially one row of "predicted" symbols, much like the text prediction that is incorporated into the Q10, with the option of using it as an up-arrow to expand to show all of the symbols. That would make more sense. I seriously doubt it will always show the entire symbol selection, which eats away at the screen real estate. Just a hunch.

Posted via CB10

Nah man -- the popped up screen takes up half of the screen smh (yah i know it only pops up if we need the full keyboard) ... But regardless -- why not just keep the 4 rows? Ill sacrifice the little screen space for the 4th row of keyboard ... Straight up

So what about people who bought the z10 and/or z30? What's their new device gonna be given they would perhaps want a full touchscreen device?
Bring me a BB10 slider

Posted via CB10

Shut up already and let me buy one. I absolutely despised it at first, now I can't go a day without thinking about it. The name just makes this device so marketable as well bravo BlackBerry

Posted via CB10

'B!tch please' - yours sincerely, The Shift Key

Posted via the Android CrackBerry App!

I am head over heels in love w/ what we've seen so far of the Passport. That said, as I am not a fan of the "toolbelt" on the Classic, I do like it's keyboard much more as I am a Bold, now a Q10 sorta guy. Sure, I'm sure there's more kb secrets to be told, but losing half that gorgeous screen when a Q10 can get the job done is silly if you ask me. I think as fat as it is, and with the interest it has sparked- 1cm taller in exchange for the full BlackBerry kb we've come to know and love- would go unnoticed and should be considered. Even if it means a delay. The fancy new touch keyboard would still get plenty of use, but without alienating potential customers.

Posted via CB10 on my Q10

If they only could add TWO KEYS (shift,alt) then the device would be perfect!!

But why should I use 2 keyboards when 1 is already always there? I dont get it!!

Posted via Q10Bold

Cant wait for ths beast to land in South Africa,hopefully in October n f the price is right than imma snatch it

Posted via CB10

Virtual shift key. No no no no no.

I can't see how this is going to be productive at all. Why replace one amazing physical keyboard with a stripped-back version that needs supplementing with an on-screen one?!

This phone defies sense. The only reason to get rid of a row of keys would be to increase the screen size. In fact what they've done is remove a useful row of keys, and REDUCED the useful area of the screen by filling it with on-screen keys.

Utter madness.

I notice that the globe symbol that is used to switch between languages is also virtual. I assume this means that when the user needs to type in a language other than English, then a virtual keyboard is utilised for the other language. Depending on the user, this could be either a positive or negative feature.

Personally, I like that it's separate from the physical keyboard. The Q10 and Bold models that had both English and letters of other languages displayed on the physical keys always looked too cluttered. Too many letters were competing for limited space.

Having other languages have their dedicated keyboards but still have the luxury of a physical keyboard is a great idea, in my opinion at least. Of course this is all based on an assumption from a screenshot of a device I haven't actually used :)

Posted via CB10

A+!! 1A!!
That Passport is mine!!!

BlackBerry*Q10, T-Mobile Germany - SQN100-3, Running OS

Just a wild guess: Do you see the little letters on the virtual keyboard? They are corresponding with the physical keyboard. I think, you don't need to touch the virtual keyboard at all. Just swipe down to open it, and then press, for example the "A" on the physical keyboard to enter a "#" (of course you can use the virtual keyboard instead). So, with a little practice, you can type blind.

My BlackBerry insider says that people who've been using and testing it in the office are loving it, if that gives anyone any hope or insight. :)

Bla1ze, please tell me that the quoted portion of this article did not come from anything intended to be public-facing marketing material from BlackBerry? The thought that they would release something which confuses the foreslash and backslash is embarrassing, given that they are trying to be a tech company.

We need to have patience, when I first saw the passport I thought it was ugly, I now find it to be beautiful but different, we are cursing the keyboard but it might just amaze us, don't say the fruit is sour until you have tried it for yourself.

I'm still not a fan of this but I'm getting more interested. I wonder if it's designed for suit jacket inside pockets? It looks like just a nice size fit for one. I'll give it a fair go though as I like bigger screens. My work iPhone5 is rubbish with one of my chief gripes being the limited screen real estate. Still holding out for a Z50 thought;)

Posted via CB10

Why don't we all just wait, calm down and see when the devise out. Then after that we can all pass judgment.

Posted via CB10

It strikes me once again that this is much more of a power-user device. I like that aspect in the Q10, which allows me to be very quick with everything I need to do. The problem is that it is not dumbed down and simple, which is what the average smartphone user wants. Don't get me wrong, I think the BlackBerry Passport is a cool idea, but I don't expect this to have massive sales volume.

Uhh...redundancies much? Hey BB instead of your batch layoffs maybe you should eliminate redundancies in your hardware?! It's certainly impressive how the company is still operating with the endless onslaught of negative feedback. A+ for you're the only one among them all that can outlast the rest given your moronic moves. Am I being too quick to judge? Maybe...but they successfully generated interest so they follow up with a seriously questionable series of spy pics. I'm dumbfounded, why release pics at all? Who's the genius behind this? I'd love to know; he deserves to be commended for this one.

I had to take a look at the photos a few times and think about how I use my keyboard on my BlackBerry. This makes a lot of sense when typing. The main symbols you need like a comma or question mark are visible, and all the other symbols I rarely use. Should be interestingly unique, I look forward to a video showing it in use.

This is a nice phone I love it.

But you tell us blackberry will make a new phone . name: blackberry xioteca or xiotica 1 .

Where is it?

Posted via CrackBerry App

so we get a physical kb that also acts as a touchpad? I have two words:
I didn't even know they can do such a thing.
I can't wait to get my hands on this! how much is this gonna retail? (w/o a carrier plan?)

Posted via CB10 on my BBQ10