Getting to know the BlackBerry Passport

Black and Gold Passport2

The last few years have been difficult for BlackBerry. Once a leading figure in the smartphone arena, they have seen their market share slowly erode thanks to the likes of Apple and Samsung. However, that is all about to change. With the unveiling of the new BlackBerry Passport, the little Canadian company that could hopes to revitalize its once iconic brand and recapture a sizable portion of the smartphone market. Squarely aimed at business professionals, the BlackBerry Passport has been designed to appeal to those consumers who choose their tech devices on the basis of productivity rather than flash and bravado. If that sounds like you, let’s take some time to get to know the new BlackBerry Passport.


The BlackBerry Passport features a 4.5 inch square screen, making it ideal for reading and browsing the web. The display is bright and sharp, and the 1:1 aspect ratio is perfect for composing emails and editing documents. That being said, it is not really suited to media playback, and streaming video will be letter-boxed to accommodate the square screen. But perhaps that is to be expected in a device designed for productivity as opposed to leisure.

Design and Build

At 196 grams the Passport is heavier than most smartphones, but that only reflects its solid build. Front and back panels are held together with a strong metallic bond, while the back features a soft touch finish for comfort. The BlackBerry Passport is a large device, and it can be difficult to operate with one hand. But in the age of the phablet, that’s hardly surprising. Still, despite its size, the Passport fits comfortably in a suit pocket or handbag.

BB10 Operating System

The Passport runs the BlackBerry 10 operating system. The BB10 interface is designed to give users quick access to their most commonly used apps and most recent open tasks. Unlike Android and iOS there is no default home screen or software menu to speak of. Upon start up the Passport displays a selection of preview windows reflecting the user’s most recent activity. BB10 features BlackBerry Balance, allowing users to create personal and work profiles so confidential data and personal information are kept separate and secure. The BB10 operating system can take some getting used to, but the Passport does come with a detailed tutorial for new owners.

BlackBerry Hub

One of the most impressive features of the new Passport is BlackBerry Hub, a messaging app that syncs email, IM, and social media accounts into one easy to access interface. This is a real boon for on the go business professionals. Important business contacts can be prioritized so vital messages never get lost in a high traffic inbox.


The Passport’s keyboard has been reduced to three rows, in order to accommodate the larger screen. This, frankly, takes some getting used to. The physical keyboard is to be used exclusively for letters, with punctuation and numbers appearing as pop-ups on the touchscreen. The space bar is no longer positioned beneath the main keyboard, being incorporated into the key lay out where the ‘B’ and ‘N’ used to be. Many users have found this new keyboard design problematic, and have opted to rely on a touchscreen keyboard instead.


The BlackBerry Passport is powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM. The Passport features a 13 megapixel camera with auto focus and image stabilization. As befits a business specific handset, there is no selfie camera. 4G wireless is enabled, with Wi-Fi Direct, NFC, and Bluetooth 4 included as standard features. The BlackBerry Passport ships with 32GB of internal storage, which can be expanded to 128GB via micro SD card support.

Battery Life

Battery life is a major concern for smartphone users, and it is here where the Passport really excels. Featuring a huge 3450mAh battery, the Passport easily out paces other smartphones and phablets on the market. With moderate usage battery life should easily extend to 48 hours. Even with intensive use, the Passport’s battery delivers 25 to 30 hours between charges.

Web Browsing

Past BlackBerry devices have been somewhat disappointing when it came to web browsing – mostly due to the small screen size of older BlackBerry handsets. That all changes with the BlackBerry Passport. WebKit is the Passport’s default browsers, and its response time is solid with web pages loading in a matter of seconds. WebKit’s home page can be easily customized, and users can add favourite pages for quick access and enable the reader mode to reduce clutter.


Finally, the BlackBerry Passport comes pre-loaded with the most commonly used apps, such as DropBox, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Docs to Go. More than 500,000 supplementary apps are available through BlackBerry World Marketplace and the Amazon App Store, giving users plenty of options when it comes to software applications. This is a definite improvement for BlackBerry, and one that will appeal to consumers across the board.

The Blackberry Passport is being hailed as a rousing success, and company CEO John Chen is touting it as the firm’s new flagship model. While the Passport may not appeal to the youth and leisure markets, it is finding great success with business professionals who expect more from their smartphones than gaming and selfies. In fact, Chen says demand has been so great that supplies are limited across all of BlackBerry’s active markets. So, if the Passport sounds like the handset for you, run don’t walk to your nearest retailer.