BlackBerry Passport Hands-on

Earlier today, BlackBerry announced their Passport device for India and we managed to get a brief hands-on to see if the BlackBerry phone with a square display is worth the attention.

The first thing you’ll notice with the Passport is its design. BlackBerry India’s Gautam Shah says the phone has been inspired by an actual passport and though it looks quite normal on a legal document, a phone with such dimensions certainly grabs some eyeballs. The phone measures 128×90.3×9.3mm and is a bit difficult to hold on with one hand but is a perfect fit when you considering using both the hands.

Apart from the design, keyboard is another area that Passport has taken a different approach. We’ve got smartphones with physical keyboards but Passport is one of the first devices to have a touch-enabled QWERTY keyboard. The whole keyboard acts like a big trackpad that allows users to scroll through the webpage, flick words just like one would do on a BlackBerry 10 touch device and few other gestures. It’s also a 3-row BlackBerry keyboard with the fourth row displaying extra characters and suggestions on the touchscreen display.

Speaking of the display, it has a 4.5-inch screen with a resolution 1440×1440 pixels. This means the phone has a 1:1 aspect ratio and while we didn’t have additional video content to try out the aspect ratio, a sample video demoed by BlackBerry worked fine with options allowing to watch it in the original aspect ratio or take the full screen in 1:1.

The BlackBerry Passport runs the latest BlackBerry OS 10 v10.3 update and coupled with Snapdraon 801 quad-core processor and 3GB RAM, the OS seemed pretty smooth and jitter free. The camera is 13 megapixel but couldn’t try it out thoroughly due to the closed setting. Video resolution supported by the phone is up to Full HD (1080p), which is a bummer considering Android phones with the same chip are capable to record videos in 4K resolution. The Passport has a 3450mAh non-removable battery and supports memory expansion with microSD card slot.

With our brief hands on, the Passport does look like a performer but the decisive factor we feel is the design and the price.

BlackBerry Passport will release in October for Rs. 49,990 and can be pre-ordered on for Rs. 5,000.

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