I’ve spent a few weeks using the BlackBerry Passport, which was launched at the start of October.
BlackBerry positions the Passport as a business device. It is instantly recognisable by its Qwerty keyboard and large 4.5 inch display. It also supports Android and provides direct access to the Amazon Android store.
Speaking of the Amazon store, it is no way near as complete as the Google Play store and I could not even find the Kindle app. That said, I was able to use the Android British Gas Hive and Nike+ apps.
I ended up downloading the APK Installer App from the Amazon App store to get access to Google Play, when I was then able to download the official Amazon Kindle App!
Side-loading still works if you are happy downloading the APK (Android app installer file) file directly. I actually downloaded apps for my Nexus 7, then used a file manager app to copy the APK files onto my NAS drive, which the BlackBerry Passport could access. There are several APK to BAR (BB10 app) converters available online.
As a BlackBerry Q10 user, I find a real keyboard essential for creating content. In fact this blog post was written on the Q10 earlier this morning on my way to work.
The Passport’s keyboard is larger, so it should be easier to use. But having tried writing long articles on the Passport, I could not get used to the layout. The most annoying feature was in fact one of the new devices big highlights – a touch-enabled physical keyboard. When you touch the keys the keyboard acts like a touchpad, for moving the cursor. While this sounds fantastic on the spec sheet, in practice, it made working on the keyboard slower, especially if you tend to rely on the delete key to make corrections. I found I was correcting the wrong word more often than not, which slowed done my progress when writing text.
Among the best features of the Passport is the screen. I found reading on the Kindle app a pleasure, thanks to the high res screen on the Passport.
For business users, BlackBerry Blend is definitely a killer app. It is a unified communications and file manger application available on iOS, Windows, and Android – giving you an integrated way to share files, text messages and email across devices.
The BlackBerry Passport has the potential to replace your laptop, tablet and smartphone and I really wanted to like it. But, even though I am old fashioned and still rely on a physical keyboard, I simply could not type fast enough on the PassPort’s.
That said, the screen is superb and Blend is excellent. Let’s hope BlackBerry rolls out Bland across its smartphone range.