It is refreshing to see a phone come out that isn’t trying to be a better or cheaper iPhone. I like diversity in technology because we all don’t have exactly the same taste, needs, or jobs. The BlackBerry Passport isn’t for folks that fall into the ideal iPhone demographic but people who need a phone to get work done. This isn’t to say that the Passport won’t play music or games just that this isn’t the product’s strength. Let’s walk through what the Passport is.
What makes the difference for professional products is that they take a bit of work and extra learning in order to get full value from them. For instance take a race car vs. a street car you use to get to the store. A race car has controls for breaks, suspension, engine tuning, and a host of other things that a pit crew and race driver can set up to uniquely match the skills of the driver and the track differences. They aren’t daunting for a pro but for a daily driver, they would be.
The BlackBerry Passport is like that, it does require you spend some time working with its unique features. For instance its keyboard is both physical and virtual. By this I mean you can push the keys in but the keys also have sensors so you can swipe speed type . That, coupled with the predictive typing algorithm, can massively speed up how fast you can type into the device but you’d have to learn a skill you likely don’t have at the moment.
The Passport has a monitor like square display much like your laptop has. This is to present information to you in the same way a PC would. This is particularly good for documents and spreadsheets both important to professional workers but not as important as movies which fit better on the more traditional panoramic screen.
It isn’t the thinnest phone in market because it both has to be sturdier and because battery life is more important to professionals than the need to have the thinnest phone. This phone has up to 25 hours of mixed use which means that some users can likely wait to charge it every 3 days, or for the rest of us, if you forget to charge it one night there is no need to panic. Most phones are lucky to still have battery life at the end of a work day. Personally, I think the whole thin thing has been way overdone and as I write this, the iPhone 6 is being pounded for bending because it is too thin. It also has a stainless steel frame rather than aluminum, which makes it a tad heavier but a ton sturdier (something that is hurting the new iPhone 6 this week).
One of the big changes with this phone is that is uses the Amazon App store. I’m very familiar with this service since I use it on my Kindles. With past BlackBerry’s finding an app other than work apps was a problem and that problem nearly went away with the Amazon App store. Most of the apps I use personally like Slacker Radio, ADT Alarm Service, and Waze, loaded just fine. A couple like Sonos and Starbucks still can’t be found but with the combination of BlackBerry, Amazon Fire Phones, and Kindles using this service the attractiveness for software developers should be improved and it is supposedly a relatively easy port to go from Android into this app store so the cost to port the app should be low.
Wrapping Up: Overall
Overall I’m impressed with this phone - it is different but does require some practice to get to the full benefits of the device. Professionals often will put in that extra time because their business is tied to their communications and the extra performance and productivity is worth the effort. One other advantage for professionals is that this phone is more secure than others. Unlike most phone makers who put ease of use as a priority and security as an afterthought because it gets in the way, BlackBerry puts security as a priority and the end result is your confidential information is far less likely to be compromised.
Something more than a few celebrities are still wishing they had this week.
President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group
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