back to article Vulture takes BlackBerry's Passport through customs

Absent for almost a year, BlackBerry has returned to the fray with the striking Passport, an updated OS and Blend – a secure desktop companion for the phone. BlackBerry Passport Daring to be different: BlackBerry's Passport There are two distinguishing features in this device: first, its display is square and very wide. …

  1. joeldillon

    QNX may be Posix-compatible, but it is in no way 'a UNIX'.

    1. John 62

      Why the downvotes? I came here to post this, too. iOS is much closer to UNIX than QNX.

      1. Kriilin

        QNX stands for Quantum uNiX, so yes. it is a variation of Unix.

  2. eclairz

    Are you using it right?

    "It's quite handy to tip the device 45 degrees when reading a web page, and use the QWERTY area for scrolling"

    Shouldn't that be rotate it by 90 degrees?

    Also not sure why the Paratek antenna would change the volume of the phone? Can't you just increase the volume if it sounding a "little quiet", or is the Z30 speaker better quality?

    I have the passport myself, I too wish it had the function 4 line of keyboard, but it's still much better than virtual keyboards, as I don't have to keep lifting my fingers off the screen to see the keyboard, or even look at the phone when typing and talking to someone. Took a week but now quite used to the keyboard, I miss inputting numbers via keyboard and the virtual keyboard for that is on the wrong side imo.

  3. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    Good

    I really hope this saves Blackberry. Android is boring the pants off me, and I fancy a change.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Good

      I've owned a BlackBerry Z10 for over a year, but had to put it in to the shop to get fixed for nearly 3 months (Carphone Warehouse's fault - NOT BlackBerry). I had to make do, for the first 3 weeks, with an Android phone.

      While travelling to my mom's I had to write an email, and it just wasn't happening. So I removed the SD Card and SIM Card and threw it in a lake. Spent £10 unlocking an older BlackBerry Bold and used it happily until my Z10 came back.

      I've had it back for the last month, and I've missed it. It's one of those weird feelings, you lose something you don't realise how dependant you are on it, and when you get it back you never want to let it go.

      What I'm getting at is that you should really ditch the Android and go with BlackBerry. Quote me, you won't be dissapointed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good

        I've owned a BlackBerry Z10 for over a year, but had to put it in to the shop to get fixed for nearly 3 months (Carphone Warehouse's fault - NOT BlackBerry)

        You dropped it.

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Good

          "You dropped it."

          No, although I was worried about it bending.

          Every time I made a call the person on the other end couldn't hear me. So I gave it to them to fix. They "fixed" it within 10 days, but they actually hadn't. So it then got sent off to BlackBerry.

          I went on holiday and 4 weeks passed, came back and I hadn't heard anything. So I went to the shop and asked what was going on, the phone hadn't even left the store to be fixed. Took them another 3 weeks after this to send it off to BlackBerry, at which point it came back fixed.

          1. Barry Rueger Silver badge

            Re: Good

            I went on holiday and 4 weeks passed, came back and I hadn't heard anything. So I went to the shop and asked what was going on, the phone hadn't even left the store to be fixed. Took them another 3 weeks after this to send it off to BlackBerry, at which point it came back fixed.

            This is one of my real big gripes with BlackBerry - absolutely no end user support. No matter what your problem is, you have to work through either a retailer or wireless company to get near the people who might actually solve a problem.

            That can do nothing but delay repairs or service issues.

            At least with Android you have a reasonable likelihood of finding someone on-line who knows the underlying code well enough to figure out a fix. And if that fails, you can actually file a bug report. Or install Cyanogenmod.

            No such options exists for BlackBerry.*

            * Yes, yes, Crackberry does exist, and Blackberry's own forums, but compared the Android equivalents they really don't cut it. Too often the answer that you get back is either "That's a feature, not a bug" or "Reset the device to factory install."

        2. John Tserkezis

          Re: Good

          "You dropped it."

          I thought only iPhones got dropped?

          Blackberrys are merely placed onto surfaces. Even if it is concrete and several feet.

    2. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Good

      That's an unfortunate image

  4. JDX Gold badge

    Keyboard won't be a gamechanger for BB

    Not because it's not any good, but because if it is other people will copy it. It might be a gamechanger for phones but not BB specifically. Everyone (except iOS) has Swype now. Microkia and Android models with such things can no doubt appear easily enough for those who want them.

    1. D@v3

      Re: Swype

      iOS8 has that now (for a small charge)

    2. chr0m4t1c

      Re: Keyboard won't be a gamechanger for BB

      iOS has Swype now too.

      Keep up :*)

    3. returnmyjedi

      Re: Keyboard won't be a gamechanger for BB

      iOS 8 brought forth the option of installing Swype, and it's quite wretched which is odd as I like it on Android (still infinitely better than the execrable SwiftKey, natch).

    4. SteveK

      Re: Keyboard won't be a gamechanger for BB

      "Everyone (except iOS) has Swype now"

      Ah, no. Being able to install 3rd party keyboards was one of the revolutionary new features in IOS8, so now even IOS can have it...

    5. RR1

      Re: Keyboard won't be a gamechanger for BB

      They can try and copy the keyboard but may run into some problems with the patents http://www.cnet.com/uk/news/typos-hardware-keyboard-for-iphone-draws-blackberry-lawsuit/

  5. theOtherJT

    So, interesting but flawed then.

    Such a shame. I still yearn for a good side-slide keyboard like my sadly deceased Moto Milestone had. For all the marketing BS about it making the phone "Too thick" I can't imagine who it is that's picking up a phone and thinking "God, I wish this were thinner". Now, _narrower_ I can understand, because you can't wrap your hand around it. _Shorter_ makes sense, because otherwise you end up with nasty hacks like the iOS tap to shunt downwards... but thinner? Once you're down around the 12 - 15mm mark it really doesn't matter any more. It's already thin enough!

  6. Yugguy

    Using a phone one-handed

    I don't get this problem. The only time I use it one-handed is when I am making a call.

    The one-handed thing seems to be done by smartphone zombies, whom I despise anyway.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: I don't get this problem.

      It's for when you're using your phone while doing something else, say eating a bowl of cornflakes. One hand holds the spoon and feeds you, the other works the browsing device.

      1. Yugguy

        Re: I don't get this problem.

        Fair enough. I don't feel the need to look at my smartphone constantly so I don't need to use it one-handed.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: I don't feel the need to look at my smartphone constantly

          Me neither, not sure why you think that's relevant. How about answering the phone while walking carrying something in one hand?

  7. James 51 Silver badge

    Pretty sure that amazon is blacklisting BB phones for some of the app functionality. It's not possible to use the instant video streaming from inside their app.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A nice in-depth review, given me enough of a nudge to get one of these (not that it needed much). I like the idea of rotating it -90° and using the keypad as a scroll for website viewing or pdf / ebook reading.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Yes, it was a good review. Orlowski has clearly actually spent some time actually using it.

      To contrast read the review of the Passport on The Inquirer, particularly the bit where they mark it down merely because the "software still feels unfamilar". Well duh, if it's different it will be unfamiliar, but that does not make it worse.

      A reviewer does actually have to become familiar with a device before they can pronounce upon it's worth. And so thanks go to Orlowski for taking the time.

      Oddly enough the review makes me more inclined to upgrade to a Z30 (got a Z10 at the mo), but I am torn between the two. Ultimately I don't suppose BB care which one I go for, just so long as it's one of the two.

  9. Robert E A Harvey

    Headset

    The obvious thing for makers of giant phones to do is incorporate an earpad/bonephone thing thatbparks in the phone to recharge, but can become earhung for conversation.

    And yes, I have proposed this more than once.

  10. Afflicted.John

    This fone is...

    ...funked up and I must simply have it. Must. Must. Must.

    I am off to clap like Michael Sheen in the 3rd Twiglet film...

  11. captain veg

    der!

    > If it's just a PDA, I wondered, why include a cellular chipset at all?

    Same reason I tether my netbook and used to have a Vodafone Mobile Connect card in my portable. In fact the very reason for having a smartphone at all, rather than a disconnected PDA.

    I have never wanted a mobile phone, only ever a wirelessly connected pocket sized computer. The ability to make calls as well is entirely incidental.

    -A.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Best of both worlds

    Unfortunately for BB it looks to me as if, once I get 10.3.1 and Blend, the combination of a one handed operation phone (Q10) and Blend running on an Android tablet is going to be the best possible combination. It's a pity the Playbook was so premature, a modern version with half the weight and twice the resolution, acting as a big screen when needed, would have really done the job.

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Best of both worlds

      I've got two playbooks and they're still going strong. Only time they show their age is when loading sites like facebook in the browser.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely you are taking the phone through...

    Passport control or immigration and not through customs. You don't need a passport to get through customs.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > The only time I use it one-handed is when I am making a call.

    Well, you would say that, wouldn't you?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good article, but a few corrections...

    * The frame is stainless steel, not aluminum.

    * There is a _swipe_ gesture to go between messages. Use a mirrored 'L' gesture to go to the next newer message:

    ......^

    ......|

    o--->

    or make the vertical part of the swipe downwards to go to the next older message.

    * When composing an email, it is not necessary to touch the screen as much as you might think.

    'c' to compose.

    use the appropriate keyboard letter shortcut to choose the email account you want to use.

    simply start typing to select the recipient. Hit <enter> after each recipient.

    Hit <enter> to go to (or bypass) the CC: field

    Hit <enter> to get to the subject field

    Hit <enter> to get to, and begin typing in the text field.

    When you've composed and completed your email, reach, for the first time, to the screen, and tap the 'Send' button on the screen.

    * While tapping on the screen doesn't wake the phone (as you say) (arguably a good thing, as it prevents pocket dialing and messaging), a simple swipe up from the bottom of the screen does wake the phone. Once you've done it a few times, it seems simple and elegant. A side benefit is that if you swipe up, but don't lift your finger from the screen, you can quickly "peek" at the lock screen notifications, then swipe back DOWN the screen (again, without lifting your finger) and the display automatically blanks. This is great for surreptitious peeks while in a meeting, if you don't want a shoulder surfer gazing at your content, or just to save battery power.

  16. Calyth

    Shift and Function

    While there isn't much you could do if you have an odd case of weird casing, such as typing out a javaCamelCaseFunction(), the autocorrect should hopefully get the capitalizations right.

    For symbols, swipe down on the physical keyboard, which gives you the symbol virtual keyboard. Note that they map to the 3 rows, and you could hit the physical keys to enter the matching symbols.

  17. Jim84

    Is the touch enabled keyboard good for placing the caret somewhere in a body of text?

    The reviewer didn't answer this, hopefully because the new touch qwerty keyboard makes it as easy to place the caret somewhere into position in a body of text as did the old trackpad on the old Bolds.

    The was removed in the Q5 and caused all sorts of grief as The Register pointed out: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/10/blackberry_q5_review/

    When I got my Galaxy Note 2 with its large screen I imagined tapping in long posts (like this one). In reality the inability of placing the caret back in a body of text to edit it made this too painful. We've got the scrolling ability of a mouse with touchscreens, but not the pointing ability (yet).

    I definitely think four rows of keys would have been the way to go. Stick the blackberry logo on the top of the device on the back (like Apple does). Then you'd get a decent width spacebar and function keys.

    The next Q10/Z3 iPhone alike from blackberry could or should have a home button on the foot of the device, and it could have the functionality of the old Bold trackpads when typing with the virtual keyboard onscreen (as well as fingerprint ID etc).

    Also I don't know how hard it would be in practice, but rather than edge backlighting the keyboard with white LEDS how about having a blue and white LED under each key, with the white LED lighting up the main functions of the keyboard, and the blue LEDs in the top left corner lighting up the alternate keyboard accessed by pressing the function key.

  18. xBURK

    Many critics are starting to realize how much potential BB10 has. It has matured so fast and BlackBerry claims it's just the beginning. Getting my Passport tomorrow. Thanks for the review.

  19. Sulphur Man

    There's clearly some bright and intelligent thinking at BB that didnt get culled or run off to the competitors.

    This is an interesting but flawed product from a much leaner company who are smart enough to realise that emulating their rivals is not more commercially viable than creating something unique like this.

    Could prove a great live 'test' product, which will lend it's most successful ideas into a more universal form factor (ie narrower) coupled to fully mature OS.

    Good luck, BB, there's still room for you at the table.

  20. coolcity

    I'm not sure why everybody and his dog insists on including the word "flawed" everywhere you look. Every product is flawed in some way, otherwise there wouldn't be so much choice on the market, there would be no point.

  21. Jess

    10.3 improvements over 10.2

    Nice to see mention of the LED colours, but does it also re-introduce the auto power off-on timer, the ability for alarms to work when the phone is off and the phonetic non-latin keyboard layouts?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missed Trick

    The physical keyboard - They should have put an e-ink display underneath the keys which changed from the letters to numbers and symbols by pressing say the shift key

    1. Jim84

      Re: Missed Trick

      Yeah but... then there would be no backlight which is even more essential for a phone keyboard than one on a laptop. Although maybe they could light the keyboard from the sides like a Kobo ereader? Still, I think bright lit up keys are what is needed. I'm wondering how difficult it would be to just stick 2 LEDS under each key, with a blue one lighting up only the top corner of the key where a number (usually dark) sits and this alternate keyboard is activated using the function key. There might be some real cost or technical difficulties blocking either of these proposals though?

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