BlackBerry Passport delivers a real keyboard and high-res screen to business

BlackBerry has introduced its Passport smartphone featuring a 4.5in hi-res screen, a qwerty keyboard and 13MP camera

BlackBerry has introduced the Passport smartphone, which features a 4.5in hi-res screen, qwerty keyboard and 13-megapixel camera.

BlackBerry claimed the Passport handset is a device purpose-built for productivity-driven business professionals who want a smartphone that offers mobile tools without sacrificing style or portability. With a claimed battery life of over 30 hours, running time is far longer than most smartphones and tablets currently available.

"As we set out to design BlackBerry Passport, we were guided by a simple yet challenging idea – to set aside the limitations of traditional design and instead build a device that fundamentally changes the way business professionals get work done on their smartphone,” said John Chen, executive chairman and CEO at BlackBerry

“The BlackBerry Passport was created to drive productivity and to break through the sea of rectangular-screen, all-touch devices," he added.

A key feature is that it offers two modes of operation. Customers connected on BES10 can switch between their "personal" and "work" profiles from the Quick Settings menu. BlackBerry Balance technology separates and secures work data from personal content on the phone, the company claimed.

The device runs the latest BlackBerry 10.3 operating system (OS) – which allows apps to run in the background, like a desktop OS – and supports exFAT when used with a MicroSDXC card.

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Passport also includes a text-to-speech app called Blackberry Assistant, which the company said offers deep integration with BlackBerry Hub, Calendar and Contacts.

According to Blackberry, the Assistant can read email to the user, who can then reply hands-free and eyes-free. It also allows the user to speak the command "book a meeting" to schedule an event.

While the company has made moves to its BlackBerry Instant Messenger service across multiple operating systems, and Blackberry Enterprise Server now supports iOS and Android, Chen clearly sees a niche among business users.

Similar to Microsoft's strategy with the Surface tablet – replacing a tablet and laptop with a single device – Chen wants Blackberry Passport to replace three devices – phone, laptop and tablet.

Unlike previous Blackberry 10 devices, such as like the Z10 and Q10, Passport does not restrict users to the Blackberry World app store for downloading apps. It has partnered with Amazon so users can download anything from the Amazon App Store.

The device uses a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, 3GB RAM, 13-megapixel OIS rear camera and 32GB memory, which makes it a strong competitor, in terms of features, against Apple's iPhone.6.

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