back to article BlackBerry claims ugly duckling Passport mobe is a swan in the offing

BlackBerry's forthcoming Passport handset may look odd at first glance, but the company claims it had good reason to break with traditional smartphone designs for its latest, square-shaped device. "We've been living in a rectangular world for quite some time and know it's a great ergonomic design that drives content, media …

More BS from RIM

Anyone notice how the cells in the spreadsheet on the android is at least twice the length of the cells on the passport?

Who falls for that crap?

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Re: More BS from RIM

Ouch. You do understand the concept of resolution vs pixel size, right?

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Re: More BS from RIM

Ouch. You do understand the concept of resolution vs pixel size, right?

Indeed, although I'm at a bit of a loss to explain how it's relevant in context here.

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Re: More BS from RIM

Not only that; when I work with a spreadsheet on a mobile, I just turn it to landscape mode. Problem solved.

That Passport, an unwieldy butt ugly contraption, will hopefully go straight to the landfill, where the Surface tablets and Galaxy Gears are waiting for new gap filler material so the big pile doesn't start sliding on top of unaware site personnel...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: More BS from RIM

Another bubble from the Blackberry ship that is already lying on the bottom of the ocean....

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It could be their best chance for a solid return...

...to the market - as a matter of fact the touch-sensitive physical keyboard is certainly far more inventive than anything Apple or the Android camp so far managed to pull up when it comes to text entry and I also like the idea of a large, high-resolution (1440x1440) screen that's NOT as tall as my Xperia Z Ultra, not to mention that anytime I tried a BB10 phone I've never seen the signature multitasking issues I always seen on iOS or Android (limited multitasking, sluggishness, randomly putting apps to sleep, triggering a loss of entered text/content etc etc)... it's taking forever, for sure, but the new CEO is far the best bet I've seen from RIM to return Blackberry to the black permanently. No it won't ever be as big as it was but it still could be a solid smaller player, with its advanced products - integrating Amazon's Android app store was a long-missing, logical step, now updating the hardware to current standards is the next... let's see the price tag and how it all get tied together in 10.3 (and presumably in BES12.)

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Re: It could be their best chance for a solid return...

I'm not sure what I think of the Passport per-se but the Blackberry 10 OS is actually really very good.

It's a shame that they've not got the "app" support that everyone cares about all of a sudden, because in reality, as a phone, an organiser, e-mail and messaging device I'm absolutely happy with my Z10 and it blows everything else by everyone else out of the water by miles.

It is pretty credible at everything else too in my experience - and a colleague has the Z30 and seems pretty happy with it. The "app gap" is an issue, purely because the world is obsessed with it now and sadly mobile web sites are often now wrapped in a special "app" but offer more. That's the single biggest issue Blackberry have from a "once you've bought it, keep them happy" angle.

The biggest issue before that though is that people generally think Blackberry means the out-dated, slow devices they USED to be - and still sell. I've lost count of how many people didn't even consider a Blackberry device because they thought it would be the slow and old device of the past, OR thought it would be really heavily locked down (which is more a function of corporate controls and security than capability itself).

It is a shame because BB 10 OS is unbelievably quick and slick. Yes you have to learn the gestures, but there are demos and videos & they do make sense - but I don't think any of that is enough on its own. They need to really push the "getting apps" angle.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It could be their best chance for a solid return...

Blackberry 10 OS is actually really very good

I'm getting good feedback on its security as well, so I'm definitely going to see if I can maybe use of as a business phone. Does it support "normal" ActiveSync instead of the BES stuff?

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Re: It could be their best chance for a solid return...

- Does it support "normal" ActiveSync instead of the BES stuff?

Yes. I had a BES5 server but got myself a Q10 which would have required upgrading the server. This was too much hassle just for the one device so I used the ActiveSync connection instead and send/receive all my mail fine

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Re: It could be their best chance for a solid return...

The problem with that is that Android (recent versions only) and iOS are also quick and slick. App support is missing and overall user opinion is negative. Also the hardware specs on the phones aren't great and the prices are higher than Android equivalents.

BlackBerry doesn't have to put out a product that's "as good as" the competition at this point. Unless their OS is mind-blowingly fantastic they're not going to get past the app gap and even then they still have to deal with the negative associations BlackBerry has picked up over the years. It would take a miracle for BlackBerry to pull out of this.

As an example, there are only two reasons Windows Phone is still competing and they are:

1. Microsoft is willing to throw billions of dollars at it.

2. Windows Phone's UI is genuinely quite different from Android/iOS and very good for the simple/integrated organizer tasks.

I've used BB10 and it has a few novel ideas but it doesn't feel like anything that couldn't be done in an Android skin. I personally believe that BlackBerry should have released the interface as an Android skin instead of a full OS. That would at least solve half their problems, but they seem to be locked into the mindset that it's still 1999.

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Re: It could be their best chance for a solid return...

"BlackBerry doesn't have to put out a product that's "as good as" the competition at this point."

Actually BB10's communication management is FAR BETTER than anything else out there.

"Windows Phone's UI is genuinely quite different from Android/iOS and very good for the simple/integrated organizer tasks."

WP UI is genuinely different, even got some stuff better than Android but for high-frequency communication it's the most annoying PoC right after iOS (which is far the worst offender), the whole tiles etc is absolutely useless when it comes to a constant, integrated communication system that BB10 is focusing on.

"I've used BB10 and it has a few novel ideas but it doesn't feel like anything that couldn't be done in an Android skin. "

Oh pleahhse. Clearly you have never used one for more than a quick test in a store or you seriously have no clue what you're talking about - BB10's unified "Hub" is far ahead of anything Android ever managed to produce with its fragmented, multiple-app communication management (despite even stealing almost everything from WebOS without any problem) and iOS is the worst on the market.

"I personally believe that BlackBerry should have released the interface as an Android skin instead of a full OS. "

Yeah, that's the typical clueless armchair CEO idiocy, completely missing the main point (unified communication) behind BB10.

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thought I'd counter the inevitable outright negativity

I *really* like the look of this. It looks like a proper phone for messaging + working with documents on the go which I personally find to be a struggle on a device with an on screen key board. (Before you say it, you might not, I'm not disputing it, I do, others do).

It's just a pity that it presumably won't be compatible with Google services like Google Now and Drive which is probably going to be a deal breaker for me.

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Re: thought I'd counter the inevitable outright negativity

@RRoker, yes there are Google apps available. There is Cloud Explorer for Google drive and some others too. I don't use the app so can't tell you if it's any good but it gets four out of five stars from the reviews.

@AC, yes BB10 uses standard active synch and works seemlessly on my Z10

As a user of both BB10 and iOS I can tell you that I much prefer BB10. iOS is very awkward for me, controlls are spread all over the place and the multi tasking is horrible, not to speak of the unfriendly approach to anything non apple.

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Re: thought I'd counter the inevitable outright negativity

@RRoker I'm with you. I use my BB for email, documents, and related tasks way, way, way more than I use it as a phone. Even though I have a lot of issues with BB OS10, the on screen keyboard, predictive text, and general ease of writing is not among them.

It's just brilliant, and I can see the wide screen making it much better.

I'm also with you on the sorry state of Google integration - I was very surprised how poorly the BlackBerry plays with Google services, and see this as a major weakness.

And yes, although you can sideload apps from the Play Store, it's really pretty hit and miss how well they will work. Beyond that, many of the BB native apps that I've installed are a version or two behind their Android cousins.

You simple cannot assume that you can just install and Android app and have it work fully and reliably.

Short of BlackBerry actually paying people to write good, up to date native apps, I can't see this situation changing any time soon.

Ultimately though the thing I've learned since getting my Z10 is to quickly differentiate between people who actually use their smartphone for business, and the teenagers who are annoyed because it won't do the stupid kid stuff that is so common with Android and Apple devices.

The world does not need more fart apps - it needs to be able to edit Word docs on the fly.

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Re: thought I'd counter the inevitable outright negativity

"And yes, although you can sideload apps from the Play Store, it's really pretty hit and miss how well they will work."

Well, you can consider that issue solved - Amazon recently inked a deal with Blackberry and its App Store coming to all BB10 device: http://blogs.blackberry.com/2014/06/amazon-appstore

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Get off my lawn

Nowadays if it's not a black or white monolith then it's weird. It looks totally normal compared to some of those Nokia phones from the early noughties which could be mistaken for Transformer toys.

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Already have a Q10. The classic should be even better. The more I look at the passport the more sense it starts to make. Looking forward to seeing that keyboard in action.

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Reminds me of the Pyramid

From the US version of The Office. We're supposed to want a square shaped phone for whatever the reasons were that we should want a triangular tablet, I guess!

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Re: Reminds me of the Pyramid

It's so you can say - UNLEASH THE POWER OF THE PYRAMID!

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah,,, but what's it like to HOLD????

See title. I actually hold my phone a lot. This thing looks mighty uncomfortable unless you have massive hands.

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Re: Yeah,,, but what's it like to HOLD????

That was my thought too... Looks hugely wide... Entering into phablet territory, but without the extra vertical real-estate.

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Anonymous Coward

Does it fit in an average pocket still? If not, then you may as well have a 7 inch tablet instead.

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Anonymous Coward

Not really sure if fitting in a pocket matters now.

The most common phones that my acquaintances have bought with their own money, are Samsung Notes. And no one keeps them in a pocket, they are all in big wallets.

(most iphone users I know got given them by work)

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Big wallets?

I have a nice little clamshell phone that fits nicely in my pocket and I take it wherever I go. I also have a nice laptop computer that fits nicely in my briefcase and I take it to work, home, and on trips, but not to dinner, etc. So what good is a "phone" that doesn't fit in a pocket? The Passport's form factor seems unweildy. I am hoping the Q20 or Q30 or whatever they call it, with a physical keyboard and actual send/end keys for phoning, will reach the states in a form my carrier (VZW) can use. Not that I'm counting on it; until then my 4-year-old clamshell still works. I just can't text, and I don't feel a great loss for apps.

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Not really sure if fitting in a pocket matters now.

It matters to me, and apparently to the person you responded to, and the person who upvoted that post. So yes, it does matter now.

Whether it matters to a substantial fraction of Blackberry's potential market is another question.

JFTR, I know dozens of people with smartphones, Apple and Android.1 None have Samsung Notes. Which merely goes to show you that relying on your acquaintances as a sample is probably not methodologically sound.

1I used to know one with a Symbian smartphone, but that was me, and when that phone died I didn't see the point in remaining with the moribund Symbian OS, though I liked some aspects of it.

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Does it fit in an average pocket still? If not, then you may as well have a 7 inch tablet instead.

I heard that the reason, why it is named "Passport" is because it has the same size than a passport.

So yes, just like a passport, it will fit in most pockets.

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Coat

Seems an appropriate screen shape…

BlackBerry have always been a company that caters for squares…

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one of the issues Blackberry will have..

Is selling it in. The channel is stuffed with Z10s. I bumped into my local phone dealing in the street tonight and he said he'd been offered them at silly money but would have to take huge quantities to get the price. He's only got a couple of small shops. I does however mean he won't touch Blackberry at all as he knows the big boys will beat him on price.

The channel in the meantime won't touch the Passport until they have cleared the Z10s.

Simon

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BB10 uses Active Sync (full EAS up to 14.1) by default. You don't need BIS (Blackberry Internet Service contract plan anymore. However enterprises can take advantage of BES10 for extra security and manageability.

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I'm looking forward to this handset. I've had a Z10 since they came out and I love it, but while the keyboard is the best I've used, I am longing for a physical keyboard. Also, it looks a fairly large device, which will be good for my shovel hands and baseball bat sized thumbs!

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Too awkward

I agree with those who say it looks too hard to hold and with those who point out that it's too big to put into a pocket. If I have to carry it in a bag, I'd rather have a tablet, so no good for me, unfortunately.

If they had only made it about 30% larger and kept the large keyboard and square screen, it would have made a great tablet. And as for those who buy note-size phones and keep them in a large wallet, as one responder alleged, where do they put the large wallet?

On the other hand, this may be a good solution for women who are never without a purse but don't need a larger tablet.

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Fact Check

This device does actually fit in your pocket.

It is actually a dream to type on.

It is actually comfortable in your hands.

(This is from two people who got to try the Passport out for a few hours after John Chen presented the Passport at the last earnings call)

Myself, I believe this is stunning. The world first phablet with a touch sensitive keyboard. Along with the high end specs, 10.3 out of the gate, endless possibilities, I'd bet anything BlackBerry has a winner on its hands.

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WTF?

'Work done on phones'

Those crazy BB people - they're for games.

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Anonymous Coward

By way of visual demonstration, Young's post included a photo of a Passport alongside an iPhone and what looks to be an unidentified Android device, with each open to a spreadsheet.

The unidentified Android device that clearly says Samsung at the top and looks like a Galaxy S4...

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They should've done an upgrade to the Z30 and made it a side slider. That makes sense and would be comfortable to hold. Nothing about the "Passport" makes me want one. I wanted a Z30, but it never made it to Sprint. Maybe Chen can sell these for cheap in the EU or developing nations. It's just not going to be popular in the USA.

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Love the comments from the comedians who think they are being snobby with their "superior" phones. First of all, you've all been saying BlackBerry is dead, for about 4 years now. Secondly, we should all want competition to keep our favourite manufacturers in check. Who cares if you don't like BB or what I like? It's about as many players as possible.

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Pocket?

For me one of the best features of the BB has always been the holster and its recognition of having been holstered. Then with proper notification settings (vibrate when holstered) you don't need to pull it out to look at it because you know what's going on without looking. I guess you can get that from the pocket too, but at a volume that notifies everyone else of your messages. Unfortunately it looks like this new design is not going to be holsterable. I'm keeping the 9900 for now.

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"That in turn makes it easier to create documents on the Passport, he said, and the large screen real estate also makes the device appropriate for viewing documents like architectural plans and schematics."

who's looking at architecture plans on their phone??

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No trackpad

Unlike the new classic it doesn't have a trackpad to move the cursor around in the text, meaning more awkward poking of the screen to try and get the cursor in the right place.

If they had been more ambitious they could have maybe made the spacebar into a trackpad.

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but the Passport's 4.5-inch screen can fit around 60 characters, which is closer to the printed-matter ideal of 66 characters

Why didn't they go all the way and make the screen fit the ideal 66 characters? Missed it by that much.

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Joke

What a stupid design

1. Mobiles are already far too big now, a /lot/ wider than even the widest old land line phone, so ridiculously bulky and unergonomic!

2. The width of the passport would be unusable for pockets, possibly even suit/coat pockets, so require a bag or case to carry it in.

3. I bet that keyboard is a pig to use.

4. I you want a mobile that wide, you may as well use a 7" tablet as a phone, and get even more screen space.

5. Sharp square corners like that are a liability, seriously WTF was the designer thinking!

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Re: What a stupid design

"5. Sharp square corners like that are a liability, seriously WTF was the designer thinking!"

Yeah, there couldn't be *any* reason they wouldn't use Rounded Corners (TM Apple).

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