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BlackBerry Passport Smartphone Unboxing + First Impressions

By: Anthony Garreffa | Phones in Mobile Devices | Posted: Dec 2, 2014 9:50 pm

After my time with new BlackBerry Passport so far, here is what I liked and didn't like about it.


What's Hot




Beautiful Crafted: If there's one thing that BlackBerry has nailed, it's the physical construction of the phone. It feels and looks absolutely gorgeous, with a beautiful texture on the back that feels great in your hands, even after hours upon hours of using it. It's a rubbery, faux-leather feel that I really fell in love with.


Physical Keyboard: I'm not a big fan of physical keyboards on smartphones, but once you get used to the keyboard on the Passport, you'll be replying to emails, Facebook messages, and so much more, much faster than ever before.


BB10 OS Isn't Too Bad: I thought I would not like BlackBerry 10, but it's actually not too bad. There are some really nice features that the company has built into the phone, which is something I wish other companies would do.


Super-Wide Display Has Its Uses: For viewing websites and emails, there's nothing else that compares to the 1440x1440 display. For most of its life, the wide display won't be used to its full potential, but for some things - such as websites and emails - the 1:1 ratio really shines.


SlimPort Support: This is something I just can't live without now, Analogix's impressive SlimPort technology. I'm a big fan of showing people my videos and pictures from my various devices, and SlimPort allows me to do that with a simple micro USB to HDMI cable to my TV - all without the associated lag that other technologies push on me.


What's Not




It's Too Wide: While the super-wide display has its benefits, it makes the entire smartphone far too wide for long-term use. I find it hard to believe that there will be hundreds of thousands, or millions in BlackBerry's mind that would use the Passport in day-to-day life, without saying it's too wide.


Not Enough Apps: This is another massive limitation of the BlackBerry range of handsets: application support. With Amazon and BlackBerry World there are a handful of apps, but it is in no way the selection that Google provides with its Play Store, or Apple and its iTunes Store.



Final Thoughts


Coming into this, I expected to really not be a fan, but I have to admit: I am. The BlackBerry Passport is one of the most unique handsets I've ever used, and definitely the most surprising. I walked away from my first couple of days with the phone really impressed with some of what it had to offer.




I enjoyed the super-wide display when it worked well for me, for websites and emails, but holding it in my hands, it was far too wide for daily use. The rear-facing camera was very 'meh', and I expected a lot more from BlackBerry there. The physical keyboard I thought I would really enjoy, but it will take a lot of getting used to in order to type as fast as I do through SwiftKey for Android.


The lack of applications is really quite bad coming from Android, as I can't even install Gmail, Maps, or Hangouts. I use Hangouts daily, and it is really hard to not use it - I simply couldn't fully 100% move to a BlackBerry handset for that reason alone, let alone all the other apps I'd be missing from my normal Android smartphones.


But, what BlackBerry has done right with the Passport, they've nailed. This is a surprisingly great handset, and somewhat of a surprise. BlackBerry was really thinking outside of the box here to construct a super-wide handset with a very unique 1:1 aspect ratio display.


Sure, the Passport isn't perfect, but it's BlackBerry trying something different. Instead of being lost in the sea of countless smartphones that all look and act so similar, BlackBerry has provided the world with something different: the Passport. Our full review will be online soon - stay tuned!

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