BlackBerry Passport review: Ticket to ride

Ticket to ride

GSMArena team, 15 October 2014.

Unique retail package

The retail package of the BlackBerry Passport is as unique as the device itself. It features a user manual that looks like an actual passport, a region-specific A/C adapter, microUSB cable, and a quality headset with extra earbuds.

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BlackBerry Passport retail package

360-degree view of the BlackBerry Passport

The BlackBerry Passport comes in at 128 x 90.3 x 9.3mm, with a 4.5-inch square screen in the middle. Its width of just over 90mm is significant - by comparison, the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has a width of 78.6mm. The QWERTY keyboard takes up three rows below the display, and features just the alphabet alongside space, enter, and delete buttons. Additional symbols and numbers show up on the display.

The Passport is obviously designed for two-handed operation, just like most QWERTY messengers. That being said, a reduction of even 10mm in terms of width would have done wonders to the one-handed usability of the device. In terms of weight (196g) the Passport doesn't feel overly heavy, although it does come in 20g heavier than the aforementioned Galaxy Note 4 phablet.

Design, build quality and handling

The Passport is designed around a sturdy metal frame that the company is not making a big deal of, but it really should. It adds a fair amount of heft to the device, but also makes it feel of higher quality. The rounded frame ends complement the rounded edges of the rear panel and the front glass. The square corners give it that signature passport-like look.

The back panel is made out of polycarbonate that is pleasantly matted to resist smudges. It feels good to the touch as well, although it does tend to attract a fair amount of dust - likely not a problem if you're sporting the white color option. There's an ever-so-slight camera bump (0.3mm to be exact), that could potentially get scuffed after prolonged usage.

The QWERTY keys themselves have good resistance when pressed, and are also backlit for easier typing in the dark.

The entire keypad itself is touch enabled, meaning that you can perform scroll and swipe actions just by dragging your fingers across the keys without actually pressing them.

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BlackBerry Passport

The high quality build certainly makes handling the Passport more pleasurable, but its wide footprint makes it far from easy to live with. The large screen does not let your thumb reach all the way across, and the same goes for the keyboard. One-handed operation will really only go as far as basic at-a-glance usage. For everything else - typing, browsing, and most applications - you'll need to use two hands.

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Handing the BlackBerry Passport

Using two hands goes without saying in the messenger form factor, but if you're coming from a more compact touchscreen device it'll take some getting used to.

Controls

Looking above the square display you'll find a 2MP front-facing camera capable of 720p video recording next to the earpiece. The hidden proximity and ambient light sensors are also here.

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A peek above the display

Below the display lies the Passport's key feature - the QWERTY keyboard. Each button is pleasantly shaped and provides ample resistance when pressed and tactile feedback.

As we mentioned earlier, the entire keypad is touch-enabled and has gesture support - you just need to run your fingers across the buttons without pressing them. The gestures come in handy for managing word suggestions, as well as for scrolling webpages and menus.

You'll notice that there are no special keys/symbols beyond space, delete, and enter. Numbers, punctuation, and special characters appear at the bottom edge of the screen when needed. Check out the messaging and text input chapter for more information.

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The QWERTY keyboard is also capacitive

The Passport's right side features a three-piece volume rocker (play/pause button in the middle), while the left side is bare. The edges composed of a metal frame, while the buttons themselves are plastic.

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The left and right sides feature a metal frame

The top of the device is where you'll find the power/lock button, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a small crevice for removing a portion of the back panel.

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The top has the audio jack and the Power key

The bottom of the Passport houses the microUSB port and microphone pinhole, flanked by two speakers.

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The bottom of the BlackBerry Passport

Flipping the device over, you'll spot the 13MP camera lens and single LED flash on a small camera hump. The centrally-placed BlackBerry logo has a carved-out look that contributes to the premium aesthetic.

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The back is pleasantly matted

The back panel features a removable portion, under which you'll find the microSD and nano-SIM card slots. The 3,450mAh battery, however, is non user-accessible.

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The rear panel features a removable section

Reader comments

  • Amp

Looking forward to recreating my life and sharing my thoughts and technology with blackberry. Canadian branded phone, Blackberry is about to put the security and freedom of choice back to peoples lives worldwide. Don't doubt what you...

  • Madmax

Blackberry passport make one that can do the apps ie what’s app etc and I would by another one in an instant still love them just need to be able to work like an android or apple

  • Sam

Please all of a sudden my network connection on my phone...the blackberry passport is no more connecting...it been red since Sunday & I can't do anything with the phone Pls help me out