If this phone had come from an unknown start-up and sold only on one e-tailer, the world would have queued up to get hold of one from the limited stocks. They would have written reviews calling it the most innovative phone in recent times. But the Passport is not from a start-up. It is from BlackBerry, the Canadian smartphone maker we all love to discard from any forward looking conversations these days.
The BlackBerry Passport, which has been launched in India just days after it was revealed for the world, is the most unique phone we have seen in recent times. Priced at Rs. 49,990, it has a large, square touchscreen, as a well as a full QWERTY very BlackBerry-like keypad. However, the innovation is not in the shape or form factor, but in making the keypad more functional that in any other device. While you can type like in any BlackBerry phone, the keypad here is also touch sensitive and can be used to move the cursor around or flick suggested words like with all-touch BB 10 smartphones. The keypad is so good you will not need to touch the extra large 4.5-inch square touch display.
With stainless steel edges and a very strong built, the phone feels premium and robust. It also houses a battery that can last almost two days. The 1:1 ratio of the screen means you never have to change the orientation of the device to view something better, In fact, this phone offers the best views in town and can let you scan spreadsheets and docs without resorting to pinch or zoom.
Sunil Lalvani, Managing Director of BlackBerry India, told IndianExpress.com that the design element is meant for power professionals. “The phone is built on feedback from users and giving them better battery life and a wider view. The display is ideal for those who have to see a lot of Excel sheets or read documents,” he added.
Lalvani said you cannot expect a sub-Rs 5,000 device from BlackBerry as a manufacturing costs are very different and material used is premium. “The traditional consumers want apps on a cheap device. The perception was that BlackBerry does not offer the apps they want. We have fixed that by pre-burning the Amazon App Store in the new OS and giving them access to 2,00,000 top Android apps,” added Lalvani. In fact, all Android apps are scanned by BlackBerry Guardian before installation. “This is an interesting first step in our new roadmap for the future. This indicates that our device portfolio continues.”
Passport will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 with 2.2GHz Quad-Core CPUs (MSM8974-AA) processor with 3GB RAM. It will have 32 GB flash memory, expandable up to 128 GB. The USB ports allows charging and data synchronisation. The phone has a 3450mAH integrated non-removable battery. The 13 megapixel auto-focus camera comes with Optical image stabilisation LED flash and 5x digital zoom. The front camera is 2MP.
The phone will initially be available only on Amazon.in and BlackBerry stores. Those buying the phone on Amazon before October 10 will get gift vouchers worth Rs 5,000 and Jet Mileage for the same amount. Pre-booking has started.
Stay tuned for a full review in the coming days.