From the moment BlackBerry chief executive officer John Chen held aloft the Passport last week, there was just one question in my mind: Will it fit my medium-sized hands? I had my answer on Monday, when BlackBerry launched its latest flagship device at Rs 49,990/- in New Delhi. The company said Passport will be available for pre-order from Monday till October 10 exclusively on Amazon India. Consumers who pre-order the device will get an Amazon India voucher worth Rs 5,000 and 5000 Jet privilege miles. The device will be available in stores starting October 10.
Yes, it does fit my hands, but I don’t think I’ll be comfortable using the device one-handed.
Price: Rs 49,990
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (2.26 Ghz)
Storage: 32GB expandable via microSD (up to 128GB cards supported)
OS: BlackBerry 10.3
Once you get over the rather unusual shape of the phone, you find a device which looks and feels premium. The Passport sports a 4.5-inch square screen with a three-row QWERTY keyboard below it. The device follows a black and silver colour scheme with an exposed metal frame running around the edge.
The rubberised back with the BlackBerry logo, provides a nice grip and doesn’t pick up too many smudges. A metal fret running the breadth of the back panel indicates the top flap which comes off to reveal the nanoSIM and microSD slots. The 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash sits right at the middle of the metal fret.
The phone boots up fast and swiping through the apps was devoid of any lag. It runs BlackBerry 10.3, which bundles in a personal assistant called BlackBerry Assistant and the Amazon App Store. The BlackBerry Assistant was able to pull up the apps/info we wanted, but it seemed a tad slower than Apple’s Siri, though the network could be the culprit.
Text appears crisp on the Passport and is easy to read because of its form factor. Pictures and videos also appeared bright indoors, as long as you’re okay with the 1:1 aspect ratio of the display.
The Passport turns the physical keyboard into a giant touchpad, and its very easy to scroll through pages. Also, if you misspell something, just swipe left on the keyboard to delete. The missing row in the QWERTY keyboard, which contains the shift, punctuation and keys for special characters, appears at the bottom of the screen and will need some getting used to for long-time BlackBerry users.
The 13MP rear camera takes good shots indoors, though the details appear soft in low-light conditions.
Calls made on the phone were devoid of issues, and it fits in the pocket of my jeans, though I somehow managed to unlock the device in my pocket and make accidental calls. Thus the Passport is best suited for the inside pocket of a jacket.
The BlackBerry Passport might seem overpriced when flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 are available for around Rs 35,000/- online.
But then, it’s not targeted at people who buy the S5; it is meant for corporate warriors who want an extension of their office in their pocket. To that end it seems to succeed, as long as you can live with the form factor.