There's been a lot of noise about the new iPhone 6 and its similarities to the Nexus 4. In fact, there's even this chart comparing the two. It's no secret that when one phone company does something right, the others want to copycat their changes to grab more customers. But, BlackBerry took a different approach. Instead of copying other successful brands to entice buyers, it decided to offer features you can't find anywhere else.
You can tell BlackBerry's Passport is different just by looking at it. The most noticeable difference is the physical keyboard that sits below the screen. This has been a favorite feature of BlackBerry lovers, and the company is hoping it can attract people who are tired of the smaller digital keys on traditional smartphones.
The phone runs on the BlackBerry 10 operating system, but will still work with some Android apps that you can find in the Amazon store or the BlackBerry World app store. It's also got some exclusive features like Blend that lets you access text messages, calls, documents and BBM messages on computers and tablets.
The Passport is not targeting every smartphone user. BlackBerry is going after tech-savvy professionals, and it has the price to prove it. The phone's price starts at $600.
The Passport is a cool concept that doesn't look like anything else you'll find on the smartphone market. It's got a perfectly square size that relates back to its name and its black and stainless steel body is stylish. And, you can't forget about that keyboard that BlackBerry fans love.
But, those same features can also be a drag. For instance, the wide square style is awkward and makes it hard to fit the phone in common places like your front pocket or the cup holder in the car. Even the keyboard is underwhelming and a little hard to use.
But using the actual keyboard isn’t as easy as I remember. The keys are stiff and take some work to press. Even after several weeks of use, I felt slow. I typed more like a hunt-and-peck newbie than the “power professional” BlackBerry says are its primary targets.
The available apps also leave something to be desired. While you can get some Android apps, you can't get all of them. The phone's operating system is also a bit slow, which causes some of the cool features to stop working occasionally.
In the end, the phone is a cool concept and BlackBerry die-hards will probably love this phone just as it is, but other users will want to wait until a newer version comes out to see if BlackBerry can work out the kinks.