The BlackBerry Passport is a smartphone developed by BlackBerry Limited. Officially introduced on October 24, 2014, the Passport is inspired by its namesake and incorporates features designed to make the device attractive to business professionals, such as a unique square-shaped screen measuring 4.5 inches diagonally, a compact physical keyboard with touch keys, and the latest version of the BlackBerry 10 operating system.
The Passport received a mixed reception. Critics praised the quality of the device’s design, screen and keyboard that meets the company’s goals of creating a business-oriented device, as well as improved selections of apps through Android integration Amazon Appstore (taking advantage of Android software support provided by BlackBerry 10) alongside BlackBerry’s own store for native software. Criticism of the Passport was mainly aimed at its unusual format, its width being even larger than that of most phablet smartphones, making the terminal difficult to carry and use with one hand, while his keyboard was criticized for the subtle but noticeable change in presentation compared to the old BlackBerry devices.
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The BlackBerry Passport has received mixed reviews. Nate Ralph of CNET was positive about the Passport, praising the quality of the Passport’s screen to meet BlackBerry’s stated objectives of providing a display optimized primarily for document reading and editing, its keyboard for a ‘spacious typing experience’ and unique tactile gestures. The operating system was also praised for its performance and for providing a better selection of apps via Amazon Store, although the assistant was accused of being slower than its competitors, and it was also noted that some apps (especially Android games) may not be well optimized for the Passport’s square screen. However, he thought that BlackBerry had “pushed too far” in its attempt to design a device specifically for the corporate market, noting that the size of the device made its use difficult, even in comparison with phablets, The company’s emphasis on text and productivity is like creating a device that is as comfortable to hold as it is to use, and this decision prevents the Passport from overshadowing its complete peers.”
Dan Seifert of The Verge praised its design for its robustness and does not require “bulky Otterbox” to withstand many falls, as well as its screen that presents high resolution and good viewing angles, its call quality, a camera sufficient (even if it is slow to launch and take pictures), and a battery that lasts all day. The majority of the reviews came from its dimensions (making the device wider than the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus), which have been criticized for making the device ‘uncomfortable’ and difficult to carry in a pocket or to use in a only hand. Dimensions were also seen as an obstacle to productivity, noting that some use cases (such as watching videos and using Twitter) did not fit well on the square screen, but still praised it for maintenance of the company’s traditional quality10. The BlackBerry 10.3 operating system was praised for its cooled appearance and its attempt to address the platform’s small number of third-party applications by consolidating Amazon Appstore (despite the lack of key applications), but was criticized for its learning curve, its performance problems (despite equipment boasting relatively powerful components), and to have similarly “heavy” mechanics and impaired productivity. In conclusion, Seifert told BlackBerry that “technology professionals” would always have another smartphone with their Passport, “if I can do my job with an [iPhone], why wear two?”
Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal was just as negative, noting that while BlackBerry still had the best email client of all smartphone platforms, the Passport keyboard was lower than the old ones BlackBerry terminals, and shared the criticismsurrounding set stound the terminal. It believed that the Passport demonstrated that BlackBerry “still lives in the past” with regard to the smartphone sector and the apparent need of users to have a phone specially designed for professional use, in particular such unusual design. In a previous test, Engadget noted that even with the Amazon Appstore available, there wasn’t enough software for the device, and concluded that “the Passport” is well built and the keyboard is comfortable, but be prepared for a few looks strange of those around you.” It was also noted that the size and shape of the passport were similar to those of an old Android phablet, the LG Optimus Vu
In less than 6 hours, 258,000 passports were sold and pre-ordered inventory on the Amazon and BlackBerry websites was depleted in less than 6 hours.