It’s been awhile since we spent any significant time with a BlackBerry device. There hasn’t been much movement in the consumer handset side, and that’s to be expected. But we were surprised (pleasantly, I might add) when the Passport was officially unveiled; we can all agree it isn’t your average smartphone.
That unusual form factor, however, might be the device’s biggest strength.
Although it’s a little unwieldy at first, and definitely looks odd when placed in your pocket, the Passport feels right. The stainless steel design is terrific, giving the Passport a really premium look; the soft touch back is equally as nice, though it’s a bit of a fingerprint magnet if we’re being honest.
Compared to today’s biggest flagships, the Passport is a lot stockier, sitting both wider and shorter than virtually every new device out there. You can grip it with one hand no problem, but BlackBerry devices have always been designed and operated for two hands. Typing feels familiar and natural, and swiping across the display is similar to any old touchscreen phone. But there are some neat software tweaks that bring the two experiences together.
The keyboard, for example, can be swiped up and down on to navigate through the OS. And when you’re typing, a virtual keyboard will show up onscreen that’s dynamic for the app you’re using. If you’re firing off an email, the correct symbols will show up when you need them; numbers, meanwhile, appear in the right context, too.
Overall, we’re really impressed with the Passport experience so far, though there’s still a lot of work to be done before we can formulate our final thoughts. It’s certainly different from many of today’s top flagships, but we think that’s a good thing for BlackBerry. A lot of the ideas seem catered for both power and casual users, so the Passport definitely appeals to a wide range of people. Whether that’s enough to tear customers away from devices like the iPhone 6 or Note 4 remains to be seen.