16 October 2014

Review on BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry Passport, possibly the most unique Smartphone in recent times, considering the square display and a qwerty keyboard which is touch responsive. Swiping up those predictive words instead of typing, just like how you did it with Z10 or Z30. That's amazing! In terms of apps, without sideload SNAP which works like Google Playstore, BlackBerry preloaded Amazon Appstore in their newest OS 10.3 installed in BlackBerry Passport which will be subsequently available for all other BlackBerry 10 devices as well. That somehow compensate the lack of apps, one of the common complain you hear about.

BlackBerry Passport uses IPS-LCD display which delivers more accurate colors, and allows the screen to be viewed from a wider angle. The downside is that an IPS-LCD may consume more power than a TFT-LCD. Currently iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus are using similar display.

Its screen resolution makes it comfortable to read content whether from your emails or web sites. However, when watching video or Youtube, you will always see the black bar on top and bottom of the video. Not able to stretch your video which is also pointless and it will crop the video even if you can do so. Make no sense of rotating the screen too since its a square. 

Watching Youtube video
Yet no matter how big or square this BlackBerry Passport is, thankfully I am still able to mount this device with my existing Mobile Car Mount.

Mobile Car Mount
Just as when you though you mastered using Q10 qwerty keyboard, BlackBerry released another version of keyboard that require a new learning curve, can't really use one hand to type (not encouraging using keyboard when driving please). 

Because the whole keyboard is touch sensitive, when I was using the keyboard to type message on Telegram (installed using SNAP but available via Amazon Appstore), the whole screen or message will scroll up and down, frustrating. However, that doesn't happen when composing emails or on other native BB apps. 

You can use the keyboard like how you use trackpad in legacy BlackBerry devices, using it to control the cursor and all. 

Perhaps, the predictive words is the saving grace if you find it challenging to type using the qwerty keyboard like I did. Swiping up those predictive words is fun! 

Social Media:
Although WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare (which I hardly use at all now), native apps like Instagram and Telegram are lacking. Installing them via SNAP (3rd Party app that require you to sideload) is possible but do not expect them to work 100% well in Android devices. Notification issues and crashing particularly for Instagram pretty prone. Instagram for OS 10.2 are more stable but I guess 10.3 still having issues handling Instagram. 

I appreciate the fact that it is Built in. Changing secondary battery is seems somewhat old school when now Powerbank like XiaoMi 10200 MAH is so affordable. I can also imagine any phone with removable battery is subjected it falling apart when you drop it from certain height and therefore switching off your phone. Relating to my own experience, I am using HTC Butterfly S with a built in battery and I accidentally left it on top of my car and drove off. To cut the story short, I managed to recover it using Android Device Manager and locate the precise location of my phone. Can't imagine the time and effort I will need to take if the battery dropped off from my smart phone. 

Operating System:
One thing for sure, BlackBerry engineers are constantly updating, fixing and improving their OS, 10.3 is their latest and I must say its further enhance the user experience with. One of the obvious feature, pretty much like Siri for iOS, Cortana for Windows Smartphone and Google Now for Android, BlackBerry Assistant is released to do just that. This is their first generation, so don't expect it to work exactly like other platform but there's always room for improvement! 

Amazon Appstore allows you to install Android Apps, but you can side load SNAP into your BB and also install android apps you can find in Google Play store. If for some reason, you have to reboot your BB, it will remembers your open apps. 

Further improvement has been make for managing their emails interface, such that you can easily select your emails for archiving to another folder or deleting them. You can "pinch in" to read your unread emails and "pinch out to resume the normal view of your Inbox.

They also included a new advanced interaction feature, such as "Lift to Wake", "Flip to Mute" and "Flip to save Power".

BlackBerry Blend:
You are able to access your emails, calendar, text messages, BBM and other files from your BB Passport even without using your USB cable. You can connect it under the same wireless network. 

However, I do encounter an issue when trying out BBM on the laptop, as I type the message, it will not be refreshed at times and I have to refer to the device itself to see new messages, although there are notification that pops up and show new messages. Subsequently, as I type new message on BB Passport, then it refreshed. I am sure BlackBerry engineer will get this resolve. 

Accessing your BlackBerry Passport via your laptop

Music - Transferring one album of the songs, simply drag and drop into the device will upload wirelessly. BlackBerry Passport speaker although still not front facing but could be the loudess BlackBerry device ever built which I am impressed! 

If you are looking for a smartphone purely for communication, specifically Emails, SMSes, WhatsApp, BBMs, Social Media status updates on Facebook and Twitter etc, watching decent videos on Youtube and listening to music while travelling... Surfing the web and reading with ease? This is the smartphone you should consider getting! 

4.5 Inch Display, IPS-LCD display with Gorilla Glass 3, 1440 x 1440 resolution at 451 PPI.
2.2 GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Processor 3 GB RAM
32 GB On-Board Storage, MicroSD Slot (Support up to 128 GB)
Wifi 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n and 5Ghz a/n + ac. 4G (LTE) Hotspot available, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy.
13 MP Rear Camera with Auto Focus, 4128x3096 pixels, Optical Image Stabilization, 1080p@60fps HD Video Recording
2 MP Front Camera & 720p HD Video
3450 mAh Battery (Non-removable)
Capacitive touchscreen 3-row BlackBerry Qwerty keyboard
Uses Nano-SIM
Weight 196g. (iPhone 6 only weight 129g, iPhone 6 Plus weight 172g)