I’m coming to the end of my time with these two new devices by BlackBerry and so I thought, what better way of rounding up my time with the Classic and Passport than comparing them and giving you reasons to go for one, or the other.
There are some striking differences between the two phones, and we start - as always - with the Design.
Both phones’ names give everything away. The Classic is a very, “classic” BlackBerry look. The Passport is the same size as a.. well, I don’t need to complete that sentence. BlackBerry’s $700 flagship is more than 17mm wider than the Classic, but is 3mm shorter and 1mm thinner. Understandably, that extra width makes it considerably heavier. In fact, it’s more than half an ounce heavier. One, then, is clearly a two-handed device. The other is a more traditional single-palm affair.
Even materials are different. The Classic has a more plastic-feeling material on the rear with a textured finish to make it a little easier to grip. The Passport has a much smoother finish, and a more rubbery texture which makes it incredibly grippy, but not to the point of being sticky. That said, it’s tough to clean off any fingerprints left behind.
Interestingly, the Classic has its camera placed in the top left corner. But with the Passport having its Micro SD and nano-SIM slots embedded in the top edge, the camera has been placed in a more central position.
Despite the obvious differences, the two phones do share some similarities. Both feature a metal chassis providing strength and durability. The also both have the same volume and shortcut button make-up on the right edge. You’ll also notice similar metal frets between the rows of letters on the keyboard.
Keyboards and Controls
As any good BlackBerry should, both phones have a physical QWERTY keyboard. One is a three-row setup with huge square keys with built in touch sensitivity. The Classic has a more traditional look with a row dedicated to the space, shift and symbol keys.
The Classic also sees the return of the old-school optical trackpad and BlackBerry menu button, along with the call, end call and back buttons. Although their purpose has changed since the olden days, these are pretty simple to get to grips with.
The optical trackpad is used for scrolling up, down, left and right through lists and content. Like the good old days, it’s also used to control an on-screen cursor on web pages.
As for the typing experience on both, if you’re used to the keyboards on devices like the Bold, you’re going to love the Classic’s familiarity. But, if you want to try something new, I think the Passport’s bigger keys will surprise you. In a good way. The size makes them so much nicer to type on. It does take time to get used to the positioning of the space bar, and the necessity of using the on screen controls. Because it only has three rows, BlackBerry added a fourth, virtual row to the screen.
It’s the Passport’s secret weapon that impressed me most in my time with it: The touch sensitivity. Think of the entire QWERTY keyboard as a huge trackpad. Moving your thumb around scrolls, like with the optical trackpad, and selects predicted words when typing.
If you want more accurate typing, I’d say the Passport is the better option. But if you want the familiar, go Classic.
Both screens may be square, but there’s a gulf in size and a noticeable difference in quality. It’s 4.5-inches vs. 3.5-inches and 1440x1440 vs. 720x720. The Passport has four times the number of pixels on screen and a pixel density of 453ppi. And there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the better of the two.
Text is incredibly sharp on the screen, whether you’re typing an email, reading a message or working on a word document, it’s going to look great on the Passport’s display. And because it’s LCD, it has great color accuracy. Sure, it could be more vivid, and neither is particularly good for media consumption, but it’s still a great quality panel.
Performance and Battery Life
There’s no real competition in this section either. The Passport is fast, fluid and flawless when performing its key tasks. Its only struggle is when using third-party apps. But its two day battery life more than makes up for it.
Let’s be clear, performance on the Classic isn’t terrible. In fact, most of the time the phone performs fluidly. But there’s stutter and lag every now and then which is hard to ignore. It’s the same story with the battery life. I could easily get a day and a half from a single charge from the Classic. But it’s still not quite a match for the stupendously long-lasting Passport.
Neither camera is anything to write home about. But of the two, the Passport’s lens and sensor makeup is the superior. It has 13Mp vs. the Classic’s 8MP but we all know pixels aren’t what matter. It also has optical image stabilization to aid in situations where subjects or shooter are moving a little too much. Because of its larger screen, it’s easier to take pictures and see what you’re snapping on the Passport too. Shutter speed is noticeably faster too, and you’re more likely to get a picture with good color and sharpness on the bigger device. It’s far from being the best camera on the market, but it’s good enough to get most people by.
Chances are, if you’re a BlackBerry fan you already know which one of these phones you’re going to buy. Those who can’t get away from the traditional size, shape and keyboard will buy a BlackBerry Classic. Those who can get away will choose the BlackBerry Passport.