BlackBerry Passport review: Ticket to ride

Ticket to ride

GSMArena team, 15 October 2014.

Telephony and phonebook

The dialer has three tabs - Calls, Contacts and Dial pad. We were a little disappointed to find out that you can't swipe between those three (after all, you can swipe between almost anything else).

The Call log features three shortcuts on top - Voice Mail plus three contact numbers. You can add more quick-dial numbers here, but the more you add, the further down the actual call log gets pushed. The call log itself can display either all calls or missed calls only (there's a toggle).

The Phonebook looks a lot like the Contacts tab of the phone app, it also has a search field and it is also automatically activates when you start typing with the keyboard.

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The dialer is very basic and has smart dial • The phonebook is also straightforward

The Passport includes dual stereo speakers that provide excellent quality sound at high levels. In our dedicated loudspeaker test, they were able to score a result of Very Good.

Speakerphone testVoice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
HTC Butterfly 2 64.5 64.7 68.6 Below Average
Apple iPhone 6 Plus 67.3 65.7 66.5 Below Average
Sony Xperia Z3 69.7 66.6 67.2 Average
HTC One (M8) 66.3 66.3 75.7 Good
Samsung Galaxy S5 66.9 66.6 75.7 Good
LG G3 70.2 66.6 80.2 Good
BlackBerry Passport 76.6 71.9 76 Very Good
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 74.7 73.5 81.6 Excellent
Motorola Moto G 4G 77.1 76 83.3 Excellent

You can find more on how we test loudspeaker performance here.

BlackBerry Hub is a messaging power house

BlackBerry's were the gold standard for business users and the robust messaging support has carried over to BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry Hub is about as comprehensive a messaging platform as you'll find on a smartphone.

The Hub is pretty simple - a list of messages with an icon that indicates the service (SMS, BBM, email, Twitter or Facebook, but also calls and voicemails) and also flags messages read or unread (color icons are for unread messages, monochrome icons are for read messages). Messages are indexed by date.

If the list of messages is too much of a mess, there's Search or you can swipe right to reveal a list of all services that feed messages into the Hub. You can then filter messages by service.

You can swipe down (not from the top) to show your agenda, and sort the Hub via the left contextual menu. The right contextual menu gives you more options, including a settings menu.

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The BlackBerry 10 Hub has menus on both sides and numerous sorting options

Replying to a message is easy, and you don't have to use multiple apps for multiple messaging types. Simply start replying or composing and the Hub will take care of the rest, be it SMS, email, social networking platforms, or others.

You can also select multiple messages and there are handy quick actions that let you do a wide variety of things.

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Viewing, replying, composing is all done from here, no matter what the platform

The message management skills of the Hub don't end there - a long press on a message brings out a long list of options on the right. You can "drag" a message to one of these options in the same gesture or lift your finger and tap the option you like, whatever seems easier.

Texting and BBM

SMS and MMS messaging is handled by the BlackBerry Hub - the Text Messages shortcut in the app drawer just leads to them.

Composing a message is no different than on other OSes. Multimedia and other data (contact info, appointment even generic files) can be attached to the message, turning it into MMS. There's an option to attach a location (either your current location or point on a map) to the message, which is great for giving directions. More than one item can be attached.

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Writing a text message

BlackBerry Messenger is one of the hottest features on BB phones. At the base level, BBM can do text and voice chats (over your mobile data connection or Wi-Fi). BBM is now free as well, and also supports users on iOS and Android.

There's also BBM Video - video calling with a twist. Instead of being able to show footage only from the front-facing camera, the phone lets you screen-share. This way the other party sees just what you see - a great way to show someone how to do something, walk them through a document or anything else you can think of.

The Channels feature lets you browse through a wide range of channels to find other BBM users that share similar interests. As of the BlackBerry 10.3 update, there's also support for custom sticker purchases in BBM

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BBM is also supported on Android and iOS

Email accounts are accessed through the BlackBerry Hub. You can add as many as you like, and emails received to each account will show up in the Hub.

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Email is part of the BlackBerry Hub

Text input

Hardware QWERTYs have always been a defining feature for the brand and the Passport is a move back towards what put them on the map. While it is a full QWERTY pad, it only has delete, enter, and space keys in addition, so all of your special symbols and numbers while typing are located on the bottom edge of the screen.

More importantly, the great word suggestion feature first introduced in BlackBerry 10 is still here. Word suggestions will appear above the keypad, and to use any of them you simply have to swipe over the keys below the relevant suggestion. This works because the QWERTY keypad is also capacitive, and recognizes gestures you make (without pressing any keys).

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Use word suggestions by simply swiping across the capacitive QWERTY keypad

The keyboard can scan your messages from the past week to learn more on your writing style (similar to Android's popular SwiftKey).

Like Android and iOS, the BlackBerry OS supports voice dictation to input text.

Reader comments

Hi, I love that phone but i need a better browser and Youtube is not working right, any ideas?

  • Amp
  • 31 Mar 2021
  • nrv

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
  • 22 Nov 2020
  • BiM

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