BlackBerry Reveals All-New, All-Square Passport Smartphone

Physical keyboards make a comeback alongside voice recognition and BB 10.3 OS

BlackBerry has launched its latest attempt to gain a handhold in the mobile market with a new and eye-catching handset.

The BlackBerry Passport features a 4.5in square HD display alongside the company’s trademark QWERTY keyboard, although it also comes with touchscreen functionality to allow swipe-spelling, as BlackBerry looks to keep pace in the increasingly crowded smartphone market.

Targeting the company’s traditional business market, BlackBerry says that the new, larger screen in the Passport will fit 60 characters onto one line, whereas an iPhone shows around 33 characters – meaning it will be easier to compose longer-form emails than ever before.

It will cost £529 SIM-free, with no news yet on which operators will offer the device.

BlackBerry_GROUPHip to be square

Running the latest version of the company’s BB10.3 operating system, the Passport, which is available in three colours, is powered by a 2.2GHz Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor, 3GB RAM, and also features a 13 MP OIS rear camera and 32GB of internal memory.

BB10.3 also includes several new features including voice recognition service BlackBerry Assistant and access to the 240,000 apps currently in the Amazon Appstore.

Alongside an updated design interface which includes updated icons and a new action bar which groups together the most commonly accessed functions in the centre of the screen. The company is also proud of BlackBerry Blend, which allows tasks and notifications from the phone to be controlled and seen on a separate Wi-Fi-connected PC or tablet that does not store the data involved, letting users take advantage of bigger screens when available.

At 453 pixels per inch, the Passport’s 1440×1440 HD display square pixel screen features a higher resolution than Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, and also includes Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for added strength.

The Passport also includes a 3450 mAh battery which BlackBerry says is the largest amongst the top selling smartphones and phablets currently available, and can provide up to 30 hours of use.

“As we set out to design BlackBerry Passport, we were guided by a simple yet challenging idea – to set aside the limitations of traditional design and to instead simply build a device that fundamentally changes the way business professionals get work done on their smartphone,” said John Chen, BlackBerry executive chairman and CEO.

“The BlackBerry Passport was created to drive productivity and to break through the sea of rectangular-screen, all-touch devices.”

BlackBerry will be hoping the Passport is the next step along its road to re-establishing itself as a major player in the smartphone business following several setbacks over the past few years. Last month, a memo from Chen announced that the company had finally finished restructuring after three years of employee layoffs, and was now set to relaunch with special focus on its management, messaging and security services, QNX-embedded systems and high-end smartphones for businesses.

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BlackBerry Passport

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BlackBerry Passport