The new smartphone being introduced this week by BlackBerry will be cheaper than both the Apple iPhone 6 and the newest Samsung Galaxy edition. But will anyone notice?
The BlackBerry Passport will sell for $599 without a wireless carrier contract in the U.S. Compared to various models of the iPhone 6 and Samsung's Galaxy S4 currently on sale, that’s a price cut of about $50 to $250. Prices outside the United States haven’t yet been released.
One of the Passport’s distinctive features is a square screen measuring 4.5 inches and a keyboard that's similar to the keyboards on the best-known BlackBerry models.
The device boasts a resolution of 1440 x 1440, 453-pixel density and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. The handset’s hardware includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor running at 2.2 GHz, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage memory that can be expanded up to 64GB via microSD.
The Passport also has a QWERTY keyboard, a 16-megapixel primary camera along with a 2-megapixel secondary shooter. It includes a 3,450 mAh battery, offering up to 36 hours of use, and connectivity options that include LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, GPS, Bluetooth, HSPA+ and NFC. Its operating system is BlackBerry OS 10.3.
We reached out to Patrick Moorhead, Founder, Moor Insights & Strategy, who told us Passport’s unusual form factor might be a turnoff for some buyers.
"Unfortunately for BlackBerry, the smartphone wars are won and lost based on ecosystems, not on devices, and BlackBerry is a distant fourth in the ecosystem race," Moorhead said. "On a device level, the Passport is unique, but that doesn't necessarily mean better. Typing with one hand will be next to impossible given the width, but I can see some benefits to seeing content in a wider mode."
The official product debut is planned for Wednesday, September 24, during a multi-city media event in Toronto, Dubai and London. That launch will be followed by availability in other stores and additional markets including Asia within the next one or two weeks.
The Passport is notable as the first totally new BlackBerry device to go on sale since CEO John Chen joined BlackBerry nearly a year ago in an effort to turn around the company.
Chen told reporters that the higher resolution "allows users to view 60 characters on each line," far more than the typical rectangular smartphone.
What’s the Strategy?
Part of Chen’s strategy is to bring handsets to emerging markets. New models under his leadership include the Z3, the BlackBerry Classic and the Passport. The Z3, a budget-friendly touchscreen phone, was launched in Indonesia in May.
Some have speculated that the Passport’s lower price reflected BlackBerry's desire to secure large numbers of orders from corporate customers. It also plans to sell the new phone at wireless stores.
Moorhead added that the new BlackBerry is almost certain to get lost in the shuffle of attention being given to the latest Apple and Samsung phones.
"With all the iPhone 6 news, I can't see the Passport getting a whole lot of attention," he said.
R. John McKinley:
Posted: 2014-09-24 @ 3:24am PT
The passport will stand out!
Posted: 2014-09-23 @ 5:24am PT
"What a fantastic physical keyboard!" You can be a two-handed champion with BlackBerry PassPort. It's a messaging powerhouse.
The Passport's keyboard works just like the Incredible Z30's touchscreen keyboard. Have you ever use the Z30? It's the best touchscreen keyboard on the market.
Incredible, the Passport's whole keyboard works like a huge trackpad. Better, it's just like playing with a pin ball machine. You shoot the words up on the line. Flick the words showing off at the bottom of the screen.
It's fun & easy with this "ready-to-type" smartphone. You can enjoy your screen display, fully & permanently, all the time. You don't have to play hide & seek with a touchscreen keyboard.
It's also a "ready-to-watch" smartphone. Even with the world's best keyboard on board, you can speak instead of writing. BB 10.3 comes with a new Voice Command.
And Passport is also a "ready-to-talk" smartphone. You can make a full HD video conference call, in stereo, with 4 microphones.
This will be your best companion. Passport will never leave your pocket. Passport scales perfectly for Android Apps. There are 500,000 native & androïd apps, secure & approved apps powered by this luxurious 4WD smartphone. In addition, Guardian & Trend Micro will keep your device clean.