While weíve been spoilt for choice when it comes to regular Smartphones, it feels like the QWERTY phone has been on life support for the past while. However, one thing Iíve noticed about QWERTY fans is that theyíre a loyal bunch. Some may use iPhones or Androids but many of them donít really enjoy it. Then, there are the die hards who will only give up their QWERTYís when you pry it from their cold dead hands. Yup, QWERTY phones can have that effect on people.
Itís been over a year since the Blackberry Q10 came out and if I may be perfectly honest, it was already a bit dated when it hit the market. The screen felt small and wasnít that great, the processor felt dated and while it had a QWERTY keyboard, it didnít really feel like a special device.
Fortunately, Blackberry just released the Passport and boy, is it ever a special device. Itís dominated by itís huge 4.5Ē square shaped display. Inside, it has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC - while itís about a year old now, itís follow ups, the 801 and 805, are only slightly faster. The rest of the spec sheet reads 32GB of storage, 3GB of RAM, 13MP camera with optical image stabilization and stereo speakers. To say the Passport has good bones would be an understatement.
What about the Q10?
What about the Q10 you ask? My reply would be: ďWhat about itĒ?
The only reason to pick the Q10 is if you need something smaller and possibly, more affordable - and if thatís the case, Iíd tell you to consider a Q5.
To me, the reason why a phone wonít fit in a pocket is usually because itís too tall, not that itís too wide. The Passport is a wide phone but itís not exceptionally tall so it should fit in most pockets.
Otherwise, the Passport is a true flagship device as opposed to the Q10 which for a short while, was just Blackberryís flagship.
What about Anything else?
When I met with Blackberry, they were quick to point out that the Passport isnít really meant to compete with iPhones and Androids and in a way, theyíre right. Theyíre marketing is something youíd use for productivity. They used the example of using spreadsheets with the Passport. Itís wide display, small fonts and physical keyboard allow you to display much more on the screen.
The width of the display also allows for more characters per line compared to a Ďregularí phone in portrait mode which means less scrolling. The capacitive keyboard also allows you to scroll without covering the screen.
Then thereís the business aspect of the Passport. Iíll be honest, while I do use my phones for work, Iím not an expert business user when it comes to phones. I donít use enterprise MDM software to manage my phones, I donít have a zillion exchange folders - heck, I donít even use Office that much. In that sense, Iím not the greatest person to review the business aspects of the Passport. Yeah, Iím not the greatest when it comes to testing out 9-5 use.
What I can do is tell you how well the Passport handles your 5-9. How does the screen look, what are itís multimedia chops like, is the camera useful?
In the 5-9 sense, the Passport is easily the best Blackberry yet. So I guess the question Iím most qualified to answer is; ďShould I buy a Passport instead of an iPhone 6 Plus (costs $150 more) or a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (~$100 more)?
The Passport runs Android apps fairly well, the only ones that donít run are those that rely on Google Play services. And even then, many will throw out error messages but otherwise run fine. So the whole; ďThere arenít any apps available for BB10Ē argument isnít as strong as it used to be.
It really boils down to the form factor and the keyboard. If you like having a physical keyboard, then thereís just no replacement. I mean Iím used to pounding on my iPhone and Android keyboards all day long but using a physical one is just much more tactile and rewarding. You get used to it immediately and youíre not covering up half of the screen when youíre typing.
Then there are the keyboard shortcuts which you learn overtime.
Since you have a physical keyboard, the screen isnít changing as much as it does when you use an on-screen one.
As for the form factor, the Passportís is certainly different but itís nothing you wonít get used to. Yes, one handed use pretty much goes out the window as QWERTY devices have always been tricky to use with one hand anyways.
So, if you like the QWERTY keyboard and the large, uncluttered display, you should definitely check out the Passport. The rest of the Passport is much more competitive with the rest of the market than its predecessor, the Q10 was.