Weird and Wonderful, Strange and Different
I've gotta say, I have really mixed feelings about the BlackBerry Passport - but they're not all bad. The first 24 hours with the Passport in my pocket was great, it was a true change to anything I had ever used on the Android and iPhone sides of things.
First off, it just feels so incredibly weird. At 4.5 inches, it's not the screen you're worrying about, it's the entire frame of the device. It's 90.3mm wide, which is extremely wide, and considering my Sony Xperia Z2 is just 73.3mm wide, this is a big deal. It could be thicker, and it would not have been felt as much, it could've also been taller, and I could manage - but wider?
So, it feels incredibly wide - did I mention that? But, once you're tapping away on that physical keyboard, you now know why BlackBerry did this. This isn't a smartphone for the Android crowd, or the iPhone crowd, this is a smartphone for the BlackBerry crowd.
It's short and heavy, and feels weird to hold in a single hand, but you wouldn't use the Passport with a single hand, ever. It's built as a workhorse of a phone, for someone who is constantly bashing their thumbs into the keyboard typing up a storm. When using the Passport in two hands, it feels right at home.
Speaking of typing, the keyboard doubles as a touchpad - which is something that I didn't expect coming into this review. It was really weird to be using the keyboard as a touchpad, but once I got used to it, scrolling up and down inside of webpages felt relatively normal.
The operating system is a weird beast, where it feels like a mashup of iOS and Android, while maintaining its own sense of identity. The OS itself is good once you get used to it, but it does not replace Android for me as my default OS. The app ecosystem is also severely lacking, with BlackBerry World and Amazon fusing on the Passport as your go-to apps for, well, apps. There's not much there to choose from that I use in my daily life - but you do have the option of side-loading applications onto the device, but I didn't choose to do that.
The physical keyboard was great to type on, but it took more getting used to than varying touch-based keyboards on our all-touch smartphones these days. Shifting between SwiftKey on my Xperia Z2 and the default keyboard in iOS for the iPhone 6 Plus was a much easier transition than going back to a physical keyboard - something I didn't think I'd say, but I am. The physical keyboard, while good on the Passport, is not great. But, I feel with time, you would become quite proficient with it, and it would eventually have you busting out 1000-word emails, articles, assignments, or massive Facebook status updates or comments on it, with ease.
The camera was actually not too bad, as it's able to shoot 1080p video at 60 frames per second, with still images also not looking too bad at all. I wouldn't buy the Passport just to snap photos, but what BlackBerry has provided is not too shabby at all - again, this is just 24 hours into it.
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