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BlackBerry, back with a bang!

Its square, its the most back-to-business phone ever made, it will make you productive too, but only once you get used to its design and size. The all-new BlackBerry Passport is the riskiest, most cutting edge, most radical mobile phone ever made, writes Rajiv Makhni.

brunch Updated: Oct 05, 2014 10:56 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Rajiv Makhni

Techilicious-columnist-Rajiv-Makhni

Does Blackberry still exist? That’s the most fantastic phone I’ve ever seen. Is that a shrunken laptop? Has BlackBerry lost its mind? I totally love it. Is that a phone or a weapon? How do you fit that into your pocket? That’s amazing – where can I get one now? That’s the best display I’ve ever seen on a phone.



Those and about a hundred other such reactions are what my life has been about for the last week. This is because I have spent the last seven days with the all-new BlackBerry Passport – the riskiest, most cutting edge, most radical mobile phone ever made.



http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/10/0510brpg30a.jpg


Back to square one
The BlackBerry Passport is a big square device with a big square screen and has been launched to get BlackBerry back to square one and regain lost glory. It’s the most back-to-business phone ever made and it shouts that out from the rooftop.



This is a phone that will make you productive, extremely efficient and discover that you don’t need a laptop to do most things. You can do more things with a BB Passport than all other phones put together. The problem is – to make your life that efficient, you have to get used to a very quirky design and a serious size change in your life.


The hardware rocket
The BB Passport is a very unique device. The closest you can get to understanding the form factor is to put an Indian Passport in your hand and think it’s a phone. It’s exactly the same size and hence, the name. And while it’s heavy at 196 grams, it’s also built like a tank with solid CNC forged metal processing and heavy duty stainless steel construction on the sides.



It’s also one of the best specced phones in the world. A Gorilla Glass 3 4.5 inch x 4.5 inch square screen with a fantastic 1440 x 1440 resolution, 3GB of RAM that mates with a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 32GB of flash memory with a micro SD slot and 3GB of RAM, Wi-Fi including 5Ghz a/n + ac and Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, Miracast, DLNA, GPS, USB on-the-go, micro-HDMI out, active sound leak compensation, plus a natural sound system and one of the loudest and clearest speakers I’ve ever used on a phone. In terms of hardware, this is the Rolls Royce of phones.


Things BlackBerry isn’t known for
The Passport kicks off with one thing no BlackBerry phone has ever tried to achieve – a good camera experience. This is a phone on optical steroids. It has a 13.0 megapixel sensor, real optical image stabilization and a very efficient LED flash. You can shoot time shift stills and native panorama shots and video at 1080p@60fps. Plus, there is onboard real time video editing, including slow motion. Once you get over the optical magic, you realise that the battery life is astounding. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2014/10/0510brpg30b.jpg



With a 3450mAh battery, I’ve been going two days without charging even with supremely heavy usage of 3G and Wi-Fi. And then comes the biggest revelation of them all: the keyboard.



BlackBerry has always been known for their mastery over the physical keyboard – but on this phone, they’ve gone 10 steps ahead. Besides giving you the joy of rediscovering how real keys clickety clack – this one is also a touch-enabled track pad just like the ones you use on a laptop.



Glide your finger across the keys or up and down and you can scroll through screens, select text, delete whole words and a dozen other things. It’s by far the most pleasing experience I’ve had using a phone in a long time.



Add to this a new Siri-like assistant, the fact that you can use Android apps on the phone and that BB OS 10.3 is rock solid – and you come to the conclusion that this is a powerhouse of a device.


Will you be square?
The eventual question is – who is this phone right for? And should you buy it? BlackBerry aims squarely at the power professional and isn’t apologetic about it.



There is a learning curve to typing on it (even for BB veterans), there is a bit of struggle fitting this into any pocket and it does take time to adjust to one-hand operations with something this big and wide. But eventually – when you do, the pay-off is immense.



This is a phone built for a very specific user and thus, those people will totally love it and swear by it. It’s good to see a company like BlackBerry that has been pushed to the edge take risks like this while others play it safe. I hear that the Passport is sold out in all the places it’s been launched.



That’s great news for BB. The Passport may not be the reason why BB starts to fly upwards again but it may well be the reason for it to enter territories closed to it before.


Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
From HT Brunch, October 5

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