BlackBerry Passport Hardware

 

 

Let's get the most important thing out of the way first: it fits in your pocket. You will have fewer things in the pocket thanks to the Passport, but it fits and it's snug. You'll know if you don't have your Passport with you. It did not seem to weigh me down in any way though, which is nice. I put on a hoodie and it worked there too. For those who like to put their devices in their shirt pockets, it fits there too. Rather nicely I must say.

This particular device is running an older build of 10.3, 10.3.0.428 to be exact. There is a newer one showing as available, but this device was given to me to pre-review and I don't want to tamper too much with it. This model has 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of on-board memory, though I did add a 64 GB SD card myself. Finally, there is an easily accessible nano SIM slot to allow for easy SIM switching without the battery interfering. With it having an internal battery which lasts forever, BlackBerry put the SD card slot and SIM slot on the top of the phone inside of a removable panel.

It isn't the easiest to remove, but it's debatable whether that's a good thing or not since it's very sturdy. Most people aren't going to be removing their SIM daily, so it shouldn't really be an issue for the majority. There is no exclusive micro HDMI port. Instead you get what appears to be a microUSB port for charging the device and HDMI out through MHL.

 

Screen

The screen is everything on the BlackBerry Passport. They finally figured it out. It's the focus here and also takes over a large amount of the duties of the keyboard. At a whopping 1440x1440 pixels, the screen is pleasantly bright and gives everything more space.

Keep in mind that you do need two hands to be fully functional on this device. I have large hands and even I couldn't get from one corner to the other corner of the screen. The screen seems very resistant to greasy and sweaty hands and even worked well with inductive gloves on. There's a lot of screen real estate here so it's hard to make a mistake.

The screen is everything on the BlackBerry Passport

Information is displayed beautifully on the Passport and minimal scrolling is required. Fonts go up to 18 and my dad will love BlackBerry for that. The screen once again reminds me of the BlackBerry 8800, which was a true machine and almost everything on this device feels inspired in some way from it.

Keyboard

Remember the 9900 keyboard? The Q10 keyboard? This is nothing like any of them. Its bigger, it's broader, softer, wider and leaves you wondering what happened to your BlackBerry. It's short a whole line and has nothing but letters on it. There are no dimples or waves on it. There are no numbers and no ALT button. Just a plain QWERTY keyboard, void of any color, and some might say character. The buttons though are soft and sensitive.

So how does this work? It works in a fashion never witnessed before. The symbols, characters, numbers and everything else is on screen and intuitively changes depending on where you are. If you are on the compose panels contact list, you will get the numeric buttons on the screen and if on the body portion, the symbols and character can be invoked. But, that's not it. The best is yet to come.

Prepare to fall in love with your BlackBerry all over again.

The predictive keyboard aspect goes to a whole new level. Not only can you be fancy like the keyboard on the Z10, Q10 and Z30, the keyboard is in fact touch sensitive. It's like the trackpad of a MacBook and you feel as if every part of the phone knows what you want it to do.

On this particular model, I rarely had to touch the screen and drifting my thumb, I could choose a word I wanted and flick to choose it. Deleting worked in a similar fashion (swiping right to left) and scrolling worked in a top down and vice versa fashion. To clarify that, you can swipe up or down on the keyboard to move around. In my opinion, with a screen that large, if the fonts are small, the keyboard works great, but if there is a lot of information, just use the screen.

Unfortunately, text selection and accentuated characters did not work for me. Again, this is pre-release so I expect issues like this.

One downside is the space on either end of the keyboard is filled with plastic that does nothing. In my opinion, the frets could have been made shorter and either end could have been made a button (call and camera respectively). This would make the device appeal a little more to the younger demographic.

I don't know and can't really say if this is the best keyboard yet. It's very different. It took me a bit to get used to the new keyboard and to understand the onscreen buttons. Emoticons have never looked better.

The keyboard isn't clicky. It's soft. The keys are wider and you need two thumbs to use it. It doesn't matter how big or small your fingers are, the accuracy is there. It's easier for women who type with their nails because the keyboard is soft and not plasticy. It's more of a tap than a click now. I got a friend of mine who is a nail typer on her BlackBerry and I had to the Passport out of her hands because she loved it so much. I'm hoping to see another version soon to get a final idea. My typing has been faster on this than it has been on any other BlackBerry. Its been more accurate too. This keyboard is so very inviting. You know that moment when you fell in love? Prepare to fall in love with your BlackBerry all over again.

 

BlackBerry Passport Camera

The UI has changed just a bit, but I'm not getting into software in this pre-review. The camera is crisp. Autofocus has never been faster on a BlackBerry when it comes to the rear camera. Photos are crisp and the zoom does it justice. Low light photographs are much better but burst photography still needs some work. Shutter speed is definitely faster that any of the Samsung devices out there, but it's not an 'iPhone killer' by any means.

All in all, for BlackBerry users, taking pictures just got better.

That said though, it's much better than any previous BlackBerry camera. In HDR mode, the Passport asks you to hold still for almost 3 seconds which seems a bit excessive, but there's still room to fix that. The front camera is 3 MP and it works great for BBM video conferencing, if a bit oversaturated. All in all, for BlackBerry users, taking pictures just got better.

 

BlackBerry Passport Battery Life

The battery is once again very impressive here. They seemed to have worked on a lot of detail here with the internal battery. I will get an opportunity later next week to look into it further, but having been signed into it on Wi-Fi with one email account, the Twitter frenzy since last night, my Facebook posts, having some of my closest friends playing with it, taking over 100 screenshots, playing a few videos and playing a fair bit of music, I am 16 hours in and it sits at 15% having started with 98%. Does it live up to the standards? In my opinion, it exceeds them if there aren't any changes between this model and the retail version. Also, to be clear, we're working with a 3450 mAh battery here.

 

Videos

 

This portion is short as I wasn't able to take a lot of the video of the Passport. That said, you'll want to stay tuned for more because there will be videos coming in the future. For now though, check out how loud the speakers are, how video will work and how web pages are viewed. I know, everyone wants to see the keyboard in action but it just wasn't possible as of yet.