17 (Bloomberg) — IHS Senior Technology Analyst Daniel Gleeson discusses the outlook for BlackBerry and why world leaders still rely on the company’s products. He speaks with Francine Lacqua and Guy Johnson on Bloomberg Television s The Pulse. (Source: Bloomberg) — Subscribe to Bloomberg on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/Bloomberg1
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The BlackBerry Passport launched earlier this year and was immediately awarded the title of the most marmite phone to ever be released; you either loved the way it looked and what it stood for or you absolutely hated it. We were interested in the handset ever since word first broke about it, and after testing it we were very impressed it scored 4.5 out of 5 in our BlackBerry Passport Review1.
It s not perfect by any stretch, but it is a solid, reliable and very intriguing proposition that has helped BlackBerry mount something of a comeback in the latter part of 2014. Now, we re not talking iPhone-levels of sales here, nowhere near that level, but the Passport has sold well and breathed some much needed confidence into a company that, just six months ago, had been all but written off.
Here are 16 things that make the handset stand out for the crowd.
Design Different is GOOD
Everything looks the same these days.
Just look around you: all handsets are a variation on a theme, using the same rectangular proportions and screen layout. The BlackBerry Passport is like no other, however, with its squared-off design, ultra-wide chassis, physical QWERTY keyboard and premium build materials. Like the Tesla Model S, it s eye-catching and more and more people are slowly waking up to the fact that, actually, this style might just work.
And the upshot of this is a still-awesome visual experience with excellent colour and contrast as well as brilliant battery life (QHD panels guzzle juice like a lush in a distillery).
Yep, the keyboard is definitely one of the high-points of the Passport. Prior to my review of the handset, I was initially a bit dubious about switching back to a physical QWERTY but after just a few minutes it all started to come back to me and a day or two later I was hooked. Also, the keyboard on the Passport is perhaps the best BlackBerry keyboard I ve ever used and that s saying something when you consider the lineage of handsets the company has produced.
It just seamlessly straddles the hardware and software, making everything quicker and emails a dream.
Battery Life s Great
The BlackBerry Passport is in the top 1% of smartphones in this regard. With medium use you re looking at a good couple of days. Heavy usage, which, lets face it most of us do, will see you through a full charge in just over 24 hours.
No other handset including the excellent iPhone 6 Plus can hold a candle to the BlackBerry Passport in this context.
Awesome Specs AND Hardware
BlackBerry handsets of old often lacked a lot of the hardware and spec capabilities found inside their Android and iOS-powered counterparts. The BlackBerry Passport bucks that trend completely and features a raft of high-end spec and hardware, including a Snapdragon 801 CPU, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage AND an updated 13MP camera with Optical Image Stabilisation.
It RUNS Android Apps
With BlackBerry 10.3 it is EVEN easier to install Android applications on your BlackBerry Passport because all the .BAR converting is done on device, saving you oodles of time. This is a brand new feature of BB10.3 and the long and short of this new ability is this: access to Google Play.
I know, amazing! All you need to do is download SNAP and you re away. That s it.
Simple and it also pretty much solves the whole app-gap problem, too.
BB10 Native Apps Are Actually Really, Really Nice
But let s not forget just how nice native BB10 applications can actually be. Just look at this one for USA Today. It s easy to use, looks great and takes advantage of all that wonderful screen real estate you have at your disposal.
Now all we need is more!
This is an absolute KILLER feature, as it lets you to pick up emails, texts and BBMs on a PC, MAC or tablet when you re away from your phone (or can t be bothered to take it out of your pocket). BlackBerry Blend works across Wi-Fi3, mobile data and via USB. The big deal though is the fact that Blend works on 3G and 4G, as this technically means you can access your BlackBerry from a PC or tablet anywhere in the world, providing you have Blend installed and your BlackBerry device, wherever it may be, is switched on.
BB10.3 is VERY Safe and VERY Secure
This is largely why it has long been the favoured platform of multinational companies and banks the globe-over since the 1990s. It does email, text message and IM encryption and can be used as a BYOD device at work thanks to BlackBerry Balance, a feature inside BB10 that halves your phone in two (one part for personal; the other for work).
Notifications, Notifications, NOTIFICATIONS
The BlackBerry Hub is the home of all your social, IM and email clients. Inside it you get instant access to notifications as soon as they arrive in a unified and, even today, unparalleled environment.
It s fast and easy to use and offers, IMHO, a far superior means of managing your email, IM and social feeds than anything inside Android Lollipop and iOS 8.
Do You Like Spreadsheets?
Well, if you do you ll love the Passport. Its display was DESIGNED with spreadsheets in mind. I know, I know this isn t very cool.
But if you do work with spreadsheets regularly (as a lot of people do) this is actually quite a large USP for the handset. No wonder BlackBerry likes talking about it so much.
It s Now Available in RED
The BlackBerry Passport looks pretty snazzy in black or white, its two launch colours. But it is now also available in red too, which, as you can see below, looks pretty bloody sexy.
It ships with 32GB inside, as noted earlier, but also supports SD-cards up to 128GB.
And because BB10.3 isn t quite a weird with SD-cards as Android and Windows Phone, you can pretty much do with them what you want.
Great Call Quality
I honestly always forget to make a note about call quality when I review phones, which sounds insane, I know, but it s true you kind of just forget all about it and instead focus on things like the display, camera and battery life. Most handsets are pretty similar in this regard, however, and offer up perfectly adequate call quality. It s only when you use a device with INSANE call quality like the Passport that you actually start to notice the difference again.
The Passport s is crystal clear, even on speakerphone, and its all thanks to BlackBerry Natural Sound Technology.
BlackBerry Natural Sound Technology is built in to adapt Wi-Fi and cellular call sound depending upon phone position and background noise. The result is unmatched sound quality that can make you feel like you are in the same room even if you are worlds apart.
The Browser Is GREAT (And Supports Flash, Too)
It s fast. It supports flash.
And you can run hundreds of tabs at once without it ever crashing; such is the level of its HTML5 ninja skills. No other browser can do all those things. Not Safari.
Not Chrome. It also has plenty of useful features like bookmarks, sharing options and save-for-later-reading.
Amazon Apps Now As Standard Inside BB10.3
Amazon App Store is now available for BB10. Not that you ll need it with something like SNAP installed.
Still, always good to have a backup in place in case Google gets wise and does something about SNAP.
Also, Amazon has some pretty decent content on it now and is always adding more.
- ^ BlackBerry Passport Review (www.knowyourmobile.com)
- ^ Android is the name of a smartphone operating system (OS) developed by Google and used in a variety of handsets. (www.knowyourmobile.com)
- ^ Wi-Fi is a way of wirelessly connecting to the internet over a broadband connection. (www.knowyourmobile.com)
- ^ A mobile platform is also described as an OS or operating system. (www.knowyourmobile.com)
- ^ MicroSD is a type of removable flash memory card often used in mobile phones. (www.knowyourmobile.com)
Host of views have been published on whether BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ: BBRY1) can make a comeback. While some on the Street don t expect Blackberry to make a comeback at all, they are betting on the company making a turnaround, if it continues to focus on its core strength of security.
Too Soon For A Comeback?
“Well, I think, when you say comeback and Blackberry, you really have to temper your expectations,” Gleeson said. “Blackberry is not aiming to be the Blackberry of 2009 or 2010, where it had a huge share of the overall smartphone market.
Blackberry is now really aiming to own that niche area in enterprise usage and to really be the go-to device and the go-to service in that area. So, it’s really kind of pulling from a lot of the more mainstream consumer marketing efforts that it did a few years ago to really focus on that area.”
Unique Selling Point Keyboard Or Security?
“For users, the keyboard is still a very high priority for certain users, but definitely for IT departments, the security is by far the biggest selling point for Blackberrys. They are still the gold standard in security and neither the iPhone and especially not any of the Android competitors come even close to it.
The closest competitor is actually probably Microsoft with its Windows phones and not really because of the security efforts there, but it’s more because of the extra services like Office that Microsoft have that those companies already will be taking,” Gleeson added.
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