BlackBerry Passport Review

BlackBerry Passport Review

The BlackBerry Passport has finally arrived and it has brought a new twist to the classic QWERTY BlackBerry design.

From the original leaks, to BlackBerry CEO John Chen showing it off, to what is now the official unveiling of the device, the BlackBerry Passport has attracted many people because of its quirky look. Even I had my doubts about the Passport initially, wondering if BlackBerry's design team had lost their minds. But after a while I warmed up to the look of it and began to wonder if BlackBerry was really onto something here with the odd shape, the missing row of keys, and unique trackpad built into the keyboard.

According to BlackBerry, the Passport was built for productivity, and one of the key selling points is that it's a powerful smartphone that is optimized for viewing and input. The large display offers an uncompromising experience for viewing content, reading documents, using maps, managing email and finally, browsing the web.

But does it really deliver all of that? Let's find out in our comprehensive BlackBerry Passport Review!

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paypal

eBay will spin off its online payment division PayPal into its own separate, and publicly traded, company sometime in the second half of 2015. eBay claims that keeping PayPal around beyond 2015 "clearly becomes less advantageous to each business strategically and competitively."

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Google's Eric Schmidt still loves his BlackBerry Bold 9900

If you've been around CrackBerry for a while, this post may not come as much of a surprise as there is a good amount of history with Google's Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, and his not so secret love for BlackBerry smartphones and their keyboards.

In New York for a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi as well as six others including the heads of Boeing, IBM, General Electric and Goldman Sachs, Schmidt was spotted alongside a BlackBerry Bold 9900 and presumably one of his own companies Android smartphones.

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When you read phone reviews, you don't typically see Fun as a category upon which different devices are rated and compared - it's things like Performance, Design and Battery Life that are the norm. It's too bad really that the fun factor isn't given much consideration. As much as tech products are there to add utility to our everyday lives, given how much we use and rely on tech these days it's a nice bonus if the ownership experience can bring us a little extra joy, too.

Enter the BlackBerry Passport. I have been having an absolute BLAST as a BlackBerry Passport owner these past few weeks. I haven't enjoyed owning a new phone this much since 2005, which is when I got my first BlackBerry (which by the way I felt was BIG and UGLY when I first put my hands on it). And while the Passport is proving to be a solid performing phone once you work through the initial adjustment phase (it takes a few days to get used to the wide body design and three row keyboard), it truly is the fun factor of being a Passport owner that I'm loving the most. Which is kind of ironic really, considering BlackBerry set out to make the Passport the ultimate tool for productivity (and yes, it excels at that too... Instant Actions in the Hub FTW!).

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WhatsApp brings further BlackBerry 10.3 compatibility with latest beta

If you dig testing out beta apps, WhatsApp has a new one for you try out. Appearing in the BlackBerry Beta Zone right now is v2.11.930.2 of WhatsApp and while it's not a huge update, it brings a few bug fixes and improvements including some fixes for BlackBerry OS 10.3 users.

  • Group Exit and Delete are now separate actions
  • Fixed video playback rotation on OS 10.3+
  • Miscellaneous fixes and updates

The update should be appearing for everyone right now, so go ahead and grab it and let us know how it's working out for you. You are still using WhatsApp, right? In related news, WhatsApp looks pretty awesome on the Passport so kudos to the dev team there on having the app ready.

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For those of you who own a BlackBerry and a Pebble, the number of native applications meant for both is small. While that may be true it does not mean that a few talented developers haven't found a way to bring additional functionality for those of us who carry both. This includes the person behind Cast for BlackBerry and MediaX.

If you are not familiar with these applications, Smart Watch Companion is the Swiss Army Knife of Pebble applications. It brings an array of features and notifications to your wrist, courtesy of the integration with Talk2Watch Pro. Users may access weather forecasts, bitcoin/litecoin/stock quotes, generate authentication codes for various websites including Lastpass, Google, Amazon, Evernote, and Facebook, access RSS feeds, set NFC tags for features, and act as a Plex Media Center Controller. If you do not own a Pebble then have no fear, Companion (with NFC) offers the same functionality but optimized for BlackBerry 10.

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passport

There's another way in the UK to get your hands on the new BlackBerry Passport. Expansys is now selling the latest smartphone from BlackBerry for £529.99, which is the same price as the company itself said last week the device will sell for in that country.

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BBM vs WhatsApp

Here within the CrackBerry community there are always going to be WhatsApp haters, but also lovers. From a personal perspective I think BBM is much better in so many ways, but I still continue to have WhatsApp installed for three or four iPhone users that won't use BBM for whatever reason.

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BlackBerry Passport launched in India, available in stores October 10th

As expected from previous reports, the BlackBerry Passport has now launched in India with pricing set at Rs. 49,990. Customers looking to pick up a BlackBerry Passport can place their pre-orders exclusively at Amazon.in starting today. Additionally, the BlackBerry Passport will be available at BlackBerry Exclusive stores with a gift card of Rs. 5000 along 5000 miles of Jet Airways starting from October 10th. Looking to learn more about the BlackBerry Passport? Read our full review.

Press Release

New Delhi, India– Continuing its strategy to arm mobile professionals with tools that make them more productive, BlackBerry Limited (NASDAQ: BBRY; TSX: BB), a global leader in mobile communications, today launched the BlackBerry® Passport in India. Featuring a large square touch screen and new QWERTY touch-enabled keyboard, the BlackBerry Passport is a device purpose-built for productivity-driven business professionals who want a smartphone that empowers them with the mobile tools they need to get things done, without sacrificing style or portability.  

"It is a matter of immense pride to launch an industry defining product as we continue to build on our productivity portfolio. BlackBerry sets yet another benchmark with the BlackBerry Passport, that will radically transform the mobility experience of today's power users and enable them to achieve more," said Sunil Lalvani, Managing Director, BlackBerry India. "With its unique design and innovative features, the BlackBerry Passport is a testament to our continued focus on innovation and productivity, specifically to strengthen our enterprise segment offerings."  

"We are very happy to be the partner of choice for Blackberry and offer our customers the opportunity to be the first to own the Passport during the ongoing festival season. Mobile phones are one of the fastest growing product lines on Amazon.in. We see this as a great opportunity to offer customers across India – even those residing in the remote areas of the country- the ease, convenience & joy of experiencing this new device and add excitement to their festival shopping," said Amit Agarwal, Vice President and Country Manager, Amazon India.

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From the Editor's Desk: Passport and onward!

From the Editor's Desk: Passport and onward!

We're almost at the end of September and, as I noted at the end of August, it was a month many of us were looking forward to. For most, it was due to the BlackBerry Passport being launched, but aside from that there were plenty of other nice surprises this month as well and really, the fun has only just begun. Let's take a quick look at what happened this month.

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Seven months ago I went went on a podcast rant and wrote an editorial here complaining about the "email triage" experience on BlackBerry 10.

My issue? It was too damn slow. From the inbox, deleting or archiving a single email was a painful process. Unlike Android or iOS, where I could swipe left on a message to quickly take action on it, on BB10 I had to tap and hold on a single message, wait for the menu to slide out from the right, and then move my finger down to the bottom to tap the delete icon. Thank God BlackBerry provided the option to turn off Delete confirmations, or that would have added another tap to the already-long process.

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Even though we've had a square screen to develop on with Q10/5 and a big screen to work with on Z10/30/3, the Passport now brings us a combination of big and square. From an app developing point of view this may present some challenges but also brings opportunities for new UI/UX designs that just aren't possible on current devices.

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Not to sound like a broken record, but my BlackBerry serves as my primary camera. No matter where I am or what may be going on around me, it is always there to grab the planned or impromptu shot to document the events in my life. While there is no shortage of photography applications available, I am a strong believer in always having options. Designed by the same team behind Effetica, Camera++ is an advanced camera application to meet the needs of professional and amateur photographers. However, while Effetica focused on editing the images, Camera++ characterizes itself by centering on how an image is taken and all that it entails within the scope of the OS and the available APIs.

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Beta testers wanted for third party Twitch app Blink

We learned back in August 2013 that a third party Twitch app would be coming to BlackBerry 10. The developer has been working hard since then and has now reached the stage where beta testers are wanted to put the app through its paces. If you don't know what Twitch is all about, it is a service aimed at the gaming community. It allows gamers to broadcast their gameplay to the world. As a Twitch user you can then interact with other users watching your gameplay or you can just watch others.

At the time we announced the app was in the works it didn't have a name yet but it seems like Blink has been chosen as the name. And as I've said it is ready for beta testing. So, if you're a Twitch user and would love to try out the app you can download the .BAR file below. It does require you to sideload the app. If you're new to sideloading you can head over to our post on how to sideload apps onto your BlackBerry 10 device.

Blink v0.4 features

  • Browse and search games and channels
  • View stream in portrait or landscape mode
  • Select video quality
  • Login to your account
  • View online streams of who you are following
  • Search people, subscribe and unsubscribe

One thing to note is that the beta is for BlackBerry OS 10.3 only. As the app is in beta, be sure to give your feedback and suggestions to the developer via the forums. The developer is particularly looking for feedback from owners of the recently launched BlackBerry Passport but feedback from anyone is most welcome. So, head over to the CrackBerry Forums to share your thoughts.

Download Blink beta
Feedback and Suggestions for Blink via the CrackBerry Forums

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Get this shell and holster combo for BlackBerry Z10 on sale today for $9.95!

This case and holster combo for the BlackBerry 10 features a textured exterior for an enhanced grip along with a durable rotating clip to attach to your belt, pocket or purse. Choose between black or white models and save 50% off the list price today!

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Since the release of BlackBerry 10, one of the features I utilize the most on a day-to-day basis is the Hub. It is the quintessential feature in my book as it allows easy access to all my accounts without having to switch screens or jump through various menus. As we are all aware, this practical feature makes life simpler so that I can be more productive and get things done faster.

Tundra Core Studios, the team behind Shopping for eBay and What To-Do, released another fine application for BlackBerry users (and abusers) to make sure they get the most out of their device. Hub Browser is the result of their efforts. This clean and straightforward application is as the name implies. From within the hub itself, users may view and open web links sent via email, text messages, or any other application.

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AT&T offering double data on Mobile Share plans for a limited time

Are you a heavy data user? If so, AT&T is hoping you'll look their way and consider their latest promotion. For a limited time, they're doubling up the data offered on their Mobile Share value plans.

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 28, AT&T is offering new promotional Mobile Share Value plans that include double the amount of data offered on Mobile Share Value plans with 15GB to 50 GB of data. New and existing customers who proactively sign-up by October 31 get 30GB of data for the price of 15GB – perfect for families and small business customers. AT&T customers will benefit from this offer, which includes domestic unlimited talk and text, as well as unlimited international messaging from the U.S. to select countries. And if you sign-up by October 31, you can keep your new promotional shared data amount as long as you want – there's no expiration. If you need to change your shared data amount after the promotional period ends, you will need to select from the current Mobile Value Share offers.

That's not the only offer on the table either. Also for a limited time, new customers and existing AT&T customers who activate a new line of service with a smartphone on AT&T Next will receive a $100 bill credit.

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BlackBerry App Roundup for September 27, 2014

Howdy CrackBerry nation! I probably do not have to recap the week for you but if you happened to miss it (and I say if because our eyes were all glued to the live feed on Wednesday) the BlackBerry Passport is finally here. At this very moment, mine is in on the delivery truck and there are no words to express my excitement. That being said, I highly recommend, rather sternly suggest, you all read Bla1ze's comprehensive and thorough review. Informative, critical, and honest, it is one you certainly do not want to skip.

Now it is time to bring you this week's picks for all your passionate BlackBerry addicts out there. You can find each app and game by clicking through the gallery below. If your favorite did not make the cut this week, remember you can help by offering your suggestions at the end.

Borrowed by Saper-ek

Over the years I probably have loaned or borrowed items out to friends and family more than I can count. In some instances, I forgot about one or two and they were lost forever. Borrowed allows users to keep track and record each one by linking to a contact or entering in the phone number of the person if needed. You may add up to three photos to document the condition of the item being borrowed or loaned, add a due date, and there is a special category for transactions involving money. The layout is quite simple but displays the information in an easy to read manner. Borrowed is compatible with BlackBerry 10 and can be purchased for $.99.

More information/Purchase Borrowed

System Notify by ToZ Inc.

This handy application is reminiscent of the features on BBOS. It is a headless application that provides sound notifications for common system events for BlackBerry 10. This includes low battery, battery fully charged, USB plugged in/unplugged, device on, media volume up/down, and customizable sounds. The application is easy to use and setup and the developer is open to suggestions. You can purchase it for $0.99.

More information/Purchase System Notify

ReadingPocket by Lemming

ReadPocket is a native third party application for Pocket users. With our busy schedules we don't always have time to read articles. This simple applications links to your pocket account so that you can save content to read later. The interface is quite simple and allows users to view all of their articles be it unread, favorite, or archived as well as the ability to add new items. If there are ever any articles, links, or videos you wish to read later this application comes in handy. ReadPocket is free to download for BlackBerry 10.

More information/Download ReadingPocket

Uno and Friends by Gameloft

For those who are fans of the original game this latest version brings a new twist. Uno and Friends brings with it an entirely new social experience. Now you can play this classic card game with friends, family, and millions of users worldwide. This multi-player game offers amazing graphics, smooth gameplay, and, of course, all of the fun that you had sitting at the table growing up. No matter who you are with or if you are just looking to pass the time, then be sure to give this a try for FREE from the Amazon Appstore.

How to install Android apps from the Amazon Appstore

qgvdial: A native Qt5 client for Google Voice by Yuvraaj Kelkar

Our final app this week is a native Google voice client for BlackBerry 10. It offers the ability to integrate with Google contacts, option to dial back (specify the number to dial and Google Voice calls you back to the phone you have configured), direct dial, and free texts. Please keep in mind this is not an official application and that the Google Voice service is only available in the USA at this time. You can download qgvdial for free in BlackBerry World.

More information/Download qgvdial

What You Might Have Missed

Breakfast Saga by Marco Gallo

When it comes to gaming on my device, I admit finding the time to sit down and play is rather difficult. It is why I always choose the quick time-wasters, the ones that divert your attention long enough to escape the chaos around you yet still provide hours of enjoyment. Breakfast Saga is a fast, native BlackBerry 10 game that does just that. It may follow the same match-3 formula as other games we are all familiar with, but with a cute twist. The graphics may be simple but it offers a great experience for those precious moments you can sit, relax, and play a game and let your mind rest. You can find it for $.99.

More information/Purchase Breakfast Saga

Until next week...

That's it for this week folks. For more apps and games be sure to head on over to the CrackBerry Forums where you will find even more hidden gems to choose from whether it be for BlackBerry 10, BBOS or the BlackBerry PlayBook. Of course, you can always find the latest and greatest top editor's picks in the CrackBerry App Gallery. Are there any apps or games you would like to see? Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

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Riptide is a classic jet ski racing game on all major mobile platforms - BlackBerry 10 included. We first took a look at it on video back in February 2013 and the game still remains on my BlackBerry for when I have the urge.

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