We were really eager to talk with BlackBerry's design folks at the Toronto Passport launch event to get some details on the device's distinct form factor. Alison Phillips, BlackBerry's Managing Director at Industrial Design, gave us the run-down.

The keyboard, which BlackBerry diehards hold dear, is considered by the design team as four rows, rather than the more obvious three. The thinking here is that the fourth (and sometimes fifth) rows are all virtual and contextually based, but still count. After playing with the BlackBerry Passport for a bit and seeing how the touch-sensitive keyboard surface helps you interact with that digital interface, it's easy to agree.

The overall shape and size, though decidedly unusual in the world of smartphones, is entirely sensible when Phillips described the inspiration of the real-world passport. "The universal symbol for mobility" is quite an obvious pick for a phone design, and in that light the Passport starts to feel a lot more familiar than foreign.

Phillips also talked to us about the inspiration of i-beams for the exterior frame, which also works into the antennae assembly. In the short amount of time I've had with the Passport, the build quality is fantastic, thanks in no small part to this stainless steel chassis.

Finally, we talked about the rear of the device. The glass weave composite that we're used to on the likes of the Q10 is great, but the Passport uses a new glass-filled resin that's composed of a fair bit of post-consumer materials. Hearing BlackBerry talk about using recycled materials a pretty rare treat.

That's all we were able to squeeze in. What questions do you guys have about the BlackBerry Passport's design? Do you love it? Hate it? Sound off in the comments!