After a seemingly endless stream of teases and leaks, the BlackBerry Passport is finally ready to hit the market.
The BlackBerry Passport is the new flagship smartphone from the folks in Waterloo, offering a 4.5-inch display and physical keyboard in a square form factor. That 4.5-inch display features a resolution of 1440x1440 and a square shape that BlackBerry says provides a “near optimal” reading experience.
Meanwhile, the physical keyboard is more than a physical keyboard: it can also be used as a trackpad to scroll through web pages and the like. The “touch-enabled keyboard,” as BlackBerry dubs it, enables users to be more accurate and perform more functions than typical hardware QWERTYs.
On the software side of things, the BlackBerry Passport will come preloaded with BlackBerry 10.3. Officially announced earlier this year, BB 10.3 offers a virtual assistant known as “BlackBerry Assistant” that can take voice commands and view your secure, work-related information. BlackBerry Assistant can also take typed queries for times when you’re unable to speak to it.
Another big new feature of BlackBerry 10.3 is the refreshed BlackBerry Hub. The Hub now includes a feature called “Instant Actions” that brings up quick actions, like deleting an email or accepting a calendar invitation, on the right side of the Hub. This allows you to quickly act on your emails without having to dive into each message.
BlackBerry Passport has an improved speakerphone, which is louder than HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5. BlackBerry has also focused on clarity with Passport speakerphone by enabling the device to detect if its in a loud environment or dealing with a quiet speaker to alter the volume as necessary.
Rounding out the BlackBerry Passport’s list of features is a 2.2GHz quad-core processor, 13-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and a microSD card slot. The Passport is powered by a 3450mAh battery and includes a feature that allows you to lay the phone on its face to place it into standby mode and conserve battery. All of those goodies are crammed into a body that measures 9.3mm thick.
UPDATE: BlackBerry says that the Passport will be sold unlocked for $599 in the US, $699 in Canada, €649 in France and Germany and £529 in the UK. The unlocked model is now available from ShopBlackBerry.com and will also be sold through Amazon.
When it comes to on-contract pricing, the Passport is expected to come in at $249 USD. From September 24 through October 1, Canadian carrier TELUS will offer the Passport for $200 with a 2-year contract. In the US, AT&T has said that it will offer the Passport.