5 review(s) | Add your review
BlackBerry Passport
2,409.00 SAR 2,399.00 SAR (647.73)USD
Notify Price Drops
Quick Overview

The best price of BlackBerry Passport is 2,399.00 SAR at saudi.souq.com Store.

  • This Mobile runs on BlackBerry OS 10.3, upgradable to v10.3.1 powered with Quad-core 2.26 GHz Krait 400.
  • This Mobile has 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, optical image stabilization, LED flash, check quality and has 2 MP, 720p Secondary camera
  • This Mobile has 4.5 inches (~56.5% screen-to-body ratio) inches display IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors.
  • This Mobile has 32 GB, 3 GB RAM of internal memory.
  • This Mobile has Non-removable Li-Ion 3450 mAh battery
  • This Mobile has Nano-SIM - Capacitive touch 3-row BlackBerry keyboard sim
  • Compare prices for BlackBerry Passport in Saudi Arabia:
Lowest price for BlackBerry Passport is 2,399.00 SAR

Sponsored

Store Details Price Visit store
saudi.souq.com 2,399.00 SAR Visit Store

Reviews

  • Be first to post review for this Item.

Write Your Own Review

Quality *
Price *
Note: HTML is not translated!

2019

Please enter the string as shown above:

Review: Updated: BlackBerry Priv

Introduction and design

Well this is a turn-up for the books. After almost four years of banging the BlackBerry 10 drum it seems the Canadian firm has finally admitted defeat, launching its first Android smartphone in the BlackBerry Priv.

It's not entirely a surprise – the Priv was rumored for months under the codename Venice, and a move to the Android platform makes sense.

BlackBerry 10 suffered from a severe lack of top-flight applications, and an interface which wasn't quite as intuitive for the general public as the now familiar Android and iOS.

That's all been addressed, with the BlackBerry Priv sporting Google's stock Android platform, and with it access to the app-packed Play Store.

Coupled with a tasty sounding display, some handy BB apps and BlackBerry's legendary keyboard the Priv is finally helping the Canadian firm to make some positive strides in the market. But is it all a little too late again from the firm that was left behind by the original smartphone revolution?

BlackBerry Priv review

The BlackBerry Priv's 5.4-inch QHD display, Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and 18MP rear camera means it stands up against the flagship competition of 2015 – the problem is, it's arriving around six months later.

With a SIM-free cost of £559 (US$699, around AU$975) the BlackBerry Priv certainly carries a flagship price tag – and there's another problem here, in that its rivals have all dropped in price since launch, and thus are cheaper.

You can pick up a brand new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, HTC One M9, LG G4, Nexus 6P or Sony Xperia Z3+ for less than the Priv – and these are some of the best phones in the world.

The BlackBerry Priv has its work cut out then, if it's going to convince people to part with more cash and shun the established names in the Android market.

The 'Priv' name stands for Privacy, but on the box it also says Privilege, so things are a little confusing from the outset. But it's not all bad news, as BlackBerry has managed to make a surprisingly good handset.

BlackBerry Priv review

Design

The BlackBerry Priv is a smartphone I've been genuinely excited to see, as it brings something different to the Android market, and I was pretty content when I got it in my hands.

It's been years since I had a slider phone – I loved my Nokia N95 – and the satisfying sound and action as you pop open and close the BlackBerry Priv will no doubt transport you back to the early noughties, when slider phones were big business.

There's a slight metal ridge towards the bottom of the Priv, between the screen glass and front-facing speaker, enabling you to get your thumb under and push the handset up to reveal the keyboard.

BlackBerry Priv review

Push the screen two-thirds of the way up the keyboard and the Priv will complete the sliding pop action for you. I found myself idly playing with the slider throughout the day – there's something comforting about flicking the Priv open and closed.

Satisfying slide action aside, the BlackBerry Priv isn't exactly small, and nor is it lightweight. At 147 x 77.2 x 9.4mm the Priv is sizeable in the hand, although not completely dominating.

I was able to hold it one-handed and perform basic tasks, but for intensive periods of writing you'll want to hold on with both mitts, especially when you consider that the Priv tips the scales at 192g.

BlackBerry Priv review

Flip the phone up to reveal the keyboard and the height extends to 184mm, which feels very top-heavy when you're tapping away on the keys – but more on that in the next section.

BlackBerry has followed in Samsung's footsteps when it comes to the screen, as the Priv sports dual-curved sides just like the Galaxy S6 Edge and S6 Edge+. The edges aren't quite as pronounced as Samsung's implementation, but it still generates an eye-catching effect which draws the eye in.

The glass front surrounded by a metal rim, which is raised at the top and bottom to protect the screen when it's face-down, makes the Priv appear suitably premium. Pick it up, though, and the illusion is somewhat shattered.

BlackBerry Priv review

BlackBerry has clad the back and sides of the Priv in what it calls a tensile weave, which basically means it's not metal or glass, but what feels like plastic.

It's the same finish as found on the Q10 and Z30, and while it does have a nicer finish than the plastic Samsung used to insist on splashing on its flagships it's certainly no match for the elegance of the iPhone 6S, One M9 or Galaxy S6.

The plus side here is that the material is extremely grippy, and the rounded edges of the BlackBerry Priv means it can be held securely in hand.

BlackBerry Priv review

I found the plastic covering to be a little creaky in places too, and applying just a small amount of pressure on the side below the power/lock key generated a squeaking noise from the handset.

That doesn't scream 'high level of craftsmanship', but my review handset was one of the very first Priv handsets off the production line, so hopefully this will be addressed in later batches.

The rear of the Priv is dominated by a sizeable, protruding Schneider-Kreuznach camera sensor, with a dual-LED flash to its side. These, plus the iconic BlackBerry logo, are the only features on the flat rear of the handset.

BlackBerry Priv review

On top you'll find trays for the nanoSIM and microSD card, while on the base a centralized microUSB port resides next to a headphone jack.

All in all, the BlackBerry Priv is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to design. I love the slider action and the dual-curved display, but it's let down by a weighty construction and creaky plastic.

Physical and digital keyboards

BlackBerry did away with its iconic physical keyboard for its first 'proper' smartphones, the Z10 and Z3; but if there's one thing fans love it's those uniquely angled keys beneath their fingertips.

With the Priv Blackberry gives you the best of both worlds, with the keyboard nicely tucked away behind the neat sliding mechanism, much like the BlackBerry Torch from many moons ago.

In addition to double-tapping the screen and clicking the power/lock key there's a third way to wake the display on the BlackBerry Priv: just slide up to reveal the keyboard.

From here (assuming you don't have a screen lock) you can then use the keyboard itself to quick-launch applications, or use it as a trackpad to scroll through home screens by swiping sideways over it.

Hold any key button down and a pop-up menu will appear (slowly) on screen prompting you to assign a quick action to that key. Actions include opening a particular app, providing a shortcut to a contact or starting a new message or email.

BlackBerry Priv review

The Priv will suggest contacts and apps based on the letter you're attempting to program, and your usage – hold 'C' down and it'll suggest apps such as Clock and Calculator, and people such as Craig and Claire.

When you're in an app you can use the trackpad features of the keyboard to scroll up and down pages – especially handy when it comes to skipping through your inbox or scrolling down a long email.

It also means you don't have to adjust your grip as frequently to reach the touchscreen, enabling you to keep your hands around the keyboard area.

While I was able to type one-handed on the BlackBerry Priv, it was a little awkward and I'd certainly recommend employing both hands – especially as the Priv becomes rather top heavy when the keyboard is revealed.

The fact you have to hold the handset so low down to hit the keys means the Priv does feel like it wants to flip out of your hands.

BlackBerry Priv review

For those coming from fully touchscreen devices the keyboard on the Priv will likely feel outdated and clunky. The keys are small, and I continually found myself hitting the wrong letters.

Perhaps my action isn't the best, but on-screen keyboards are so good now that the physical option feels redundant. The Priv is not only easier to hold when you use the on-screen board, I also found the digital keyboard was more accurate and easier to type on.

BlackBerry keyboard loyalists may well disagree, and that's fine – I totally get that for some people physical keys are still king – but for many of us, on-screen typing is now the way to go.

BlackBerry has transitioned its touch keyboard from BB10 to Android, with next-word predictions appearing above individual character keys – these can be added to your message by flicking over them, saving you from having to type out the whole word.

A swipe down on the board will take you to the numbers and symbols panel, which is a handy addition, although it doesn't feel as fully formed as the likes of SwiftKey.

BlackBerry Priv review

If you really don't get on with BlackBerry's board you can always download a third-party offering from the Play Store – this is, after all, Android.

Something else I noticed during my time with the BlackBerry Priv was the buildup of dust in the ridges beside the physical keyboard; it wasn't huge amount, but after months of use the Priv could start to look a little grubby.

Then there's the gaping hole at the top of the handset when you've slid the Priv open – it's just asking for pocket lint to build up in there.

Display and BlackBerry apps

Display

BlackBerry has stuck with a far more traditional smartphone screen for the Priv, avoiding the awkward squares of the Classic and Passport, with a 5.4-inch QHD dual-curved display.

The gently sloping edges allow the BlackBerry Priv to sit a little more snugly in the hand, and give the Priv an impressive look when illuminated.

With a resolution of 2560 x 1440 the display matches the LG G4 and Galaxy S6, and across the 5.4-inch surface area it equates to a pin-sharp 540ppi pixel density.

BlackBerry Priv review

The AMOLED technology ensures colors are bright and vibrant, and I certainly enjoyed looking at the Priv's screen during my review.

BlackBerry has included the facility to double-tap to wake the screen, which I found was easier than hitting the power/lock key on the left of the handset. If you're left-handed the key falls nicely under thumb, but for those who frequently hold their mobile in their right hand it's not as easy to hit.

You can also wake the phone by sliding the BlackBerry Priv's screen up, which is what I found myself doing most of the time.

Thing is, I didn't always require the keyboard – I was driven to sliding by force of habit, and would immediately push the screen down again to continue whatever I was doing.

BlackBerry Priv review

Your one-stop shop

The BlackBerry Priv may run stock Android, but it still comes with some of Canadian firm's applications.

One of the big additions here is the BlackBerry Hub, which debuted on BlackBerry 10. It's actually one of the best features from the beleaguered operating system, bringing together all your communication channels in one easy to consume application.

From text messages, BBMs and multiple email accounts to missed calls and social updates, everything is hauled into the BlackBerry Hub. You can view all your notifications in one unified inbox, or filter by account if you're just too popular.

BlackBerry Priv review

When viewing your inbox you can swipe a message right to left to delete it, while moving your finger in the opposite direction enables you to set up a reminder, prompting the Priv to display the message as a new alert sometime in the future.

You can select a time for the reminder, or a location, or a connected device – so if you want it to buzz you as you step through your front door, or when the Priv connects to your home Wi-Fi network, you can do just that.

The Hub isn't perfect though, as third-party apps such as WhatsApp don't feed into it, which is a little annoying. There are also separate apps for phone calls, texts and emails already installed on the Priv, so you can ignore the Hub entirely if you want.

BlackBerry Priv review

Is anyone out there?

Another app that comes pre-installed on the BlackBerry Priv is BBM, the firm's famed messaging application. Trouble is, BBM has dropped out of the consumer limelight in recent years, with iMessage, WhatsApp, SnapChat and co all but supplanting it.

The upshot is that I didn't have one friend who had BBM installed on their iPhone or Android device, or even their BlackBerry, making the app a bit of a waste of space.

In business sectors BBM may still have a big pull, and for those who rely on it its inclusion here will be beneficial, but for many it's a fruitless endeavor on the part of BlackBerry.

To make the transition between your old phone and the BlackBerry Priv easier the Content Transfer app is included. This helps you to transition your way from Android, iOS, BlackBerry or Windows Phone, and it's a handy app, even if you'll only ever use it once or twice.

On lockdown

One of the big draws of BlackBerry devices, especially for businesses, is the added security they offer. The BlackBerry Priv can be controlled by a firm's BES back-end system, as can all Android phones, but the Priv offers something extra.

BlackBerry has hardened both its hardware and software to make them more secure, and you can control various privacy settings via a dedicated app on the Priv.

BlackBerry Priv review

Fire up the DTEK by BlackBerry app and you're instantly met with a visualization of your handset's security status. The app then has a series of settings which you can enable to increase the Priv's security level.

Basic suggestions, such as adding a screen lock and enabling remote device management, are joined by more granular controls for individual applications and system checks, such as whether you're using official BlackBerry hardware and software.

For those concerned about their smartphone privacy and security, DTEK is a welcome addition which is easy to use. It's a level of security not witnessed on many Android smartphones, with the exception of devices such as Blackphone.

BlackBerry Priv review

I especially liked the app controls, which show the features each app accesses and when it accesses them. If an app keeps checking in on your microphone when you're not using it, DTEK can flag it and you can then uninstall.

BlackBerry has also committed to monthly security updates for the Priv, ensuring the handset is protected against the latest Android vulnerabilities highlighted by Google.

All this makes the BlackBerry Priv one of the most secure Android devices on the market, which will be an attractive feature for businesses.

Interface and performance

As I've already highlighted in this review, one of the big draws of the BlackBerry Priv is that it runs Android rather than BlackBerry 10, instantly giving the handset a much wider appeal than its predecessors.

In fact, the Priv sports the stock version of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, giving you a clean, fuss-free interface. BlackBerry has also confirmed that the Priv will be updated to Android Marshmallow, but not until 2016.

Having Android on board means you have access to Google's suite of applications, including the well-stocked app store. One of the biggest bugbears for consumers using BlackBerry 10 devices was the lack of certain apps on the platform, and with BlackBerry moving to Android that issue has been rectified.

BlackBerry Priv review

BlackBerry has added its iconic red and white splat notification to the interface on the Priv, with the circular icon appearing on the corner of an app's icon to let you know a new message has arrived within it.

It's joined by another BlackBerry stalwart, a blinking LED above the screen, the color of which changes depending on the type of notification received.

As I mentioned in the previous section, BlackBerry has pre-installed a selection of its own applications on the Priv, but it's a small number and they're generally quite useful.

That's not all though, as it's also added the Productivity Tab. This is a slender bar which resides at the edge of the screen, on the curve, giving you quick access to your calendar appointments, emails, tasks and favorite contacts, on any screen.

BlackBerry Priv review

It's a more advanced version of the Edge Screen on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and S6 Edge+, and you can choose whether it sits to the left or right of the display, adjust the length of the bar and tweak its transparency to your personal liking.

If you don't like it, you can turn it off completely; it's worth keeping it switched on, though, as it's unobtrusive, and while I didn't use it a great deal it was handy for quickly checking my emails or making a phone call.

Another clever feature BlackBerry has built into the Android interface on the Priv is its pop-up widgets. Instead of filling home screens with sizable blocks, you can instead slide up over an app icon to view the available widgets associated with it.

Apps with companion widgets have three horizontal dots below their icon, and sliding up (or down) brings up a window showing you the various widgets on offer. Tapping a widget makes it pop up on screen so that you can view and interact with it.

BlackBerry Priv review

This saves you precious home screen space, and also saves you having to fully open an app if you just want to quickly check something.

Swiping up from the home button on all Android phones will launch Google Now, but BlackBerry has added a couple of extra quick links on the Priv. Swipe up and you'll notice the Google icon is joined by shortcuts to the Blackberry Hub and Device Search.

For active users of the Hub or Device Search this is useful integration, and because it's hidden from view for those who don't use it, it won't get in the way.

BlackBerry Priv review

Performance

The BlackBerry Priv's performance is, unfortunately, a little hit and miss. It comes with a Snapdragon 808 processor and 3GB of RAM, matching that of the LG G4 and Moto X Style, so it's not exactly underpowered.

Sadly that power doesn't always translate well on screen. Generally, Android ran smoothly when it came to skipping through home screens and firing up apps, but I did experience some noticeable lag.

I encountered pauses of a few seconds when exiting some apps, and holding down a key on the physical keyboard to assign it to a quick action always resulted in a few seconds of waiting before the Priv kicked into action.

Oddly though, games such as Clash of Clans and Family Guy: Quest for Stuff loaded in good time and ran smoothly on the Priv – which makes its performance glitches all the more confusing.

The Priv also had a habit of heating up at seemingly random times. I could be playing an intensive game and the temperature would stay relatively low, but then I'd switch to emails it would suddenly heat up. It never got to scorching levels, but it was certainly noticeable, and unexpected.

Running the Geekbench app on the BlackBerry Priv garnered an average multi-core score of 2963. That's not the best result for a flagship smartphone, and the Priv is comfortably beaten by the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge (4774), S6 Edge+ (4949), iPhone 6S Plus (4309), HTC One M9 (3803) and Moto X Style (3557).

It's certainly not the worst performer out there, and it can run any app you throw at it, but you'll just have to accept that you may have to wait around at times while the Priv catches up with you.

Camera

One of BlackBerry's core focuses for the Priv is the camera, and it's equipped the handset with an 18MP Schneider-Kreuznach sensor on the rear.

The camera itself is a sizable presence on the back of the Priv, protruding from the tensile weave back cover and accompanied by a dual-LED flash to one side. BlackBerry highlights the DSLR-like qualities of the Priv's camera, which boasts a high frame rate and fast focusing.

The Priv's camera app is a relatively straightforward affair, with a distinct shutter key flanked by a camera switch key, gallery link, mode select and 'live filters' to add some Instagram glam to your shots.

BlackBerry Priv review

At the top of the display is another menu bar with toggles for the flash, HDR mode, aspect ratio, time and advanced settings menu. There's not a huge array of options in the advanced menu, with toggles for picture quality, video resolution, geo-location tags and the option to save images to a microSD card.

You do get some control over your shots though, with tap-to-focus present and an exposure slider at the base of the viewfinder, which is especially useful when shooting at night.

Dive into the camera modes and again BlackBerry has kept things to a bare minimum on the Priv, with video and panorama your only other options.

BlackBerry Priv review

Head into video mode and you can choose from 720p, 1080p or 4K recording, enabling you to shoot satisfying footage with the Priv; it won't be Oscar-winning quality, but it won't let you down when you play it back on your computer or TV.

Going back to shooting photos, the BlackBerry Priv's rear camera performs well. I was able to capture both highly detailed close-ups and well-focused landscapes with ease.

I was impressed with the camera's low light capabilities when I dropped the exposure at night, although indoor shots under poor lighting can end up looking rather grainy.

BlackBerry Priv review

The camera was sluggish at times though, and I experienced a delay between hitting the shutter and snapping a photo, and a further delay in saving the image, on more than one occasion.

The front-facing 2MP camera is serviceable, but don't expect anything special from it. For the odd selfie or video chat it's fine, but it can't hold a candle to the front-facing snappers on some of the Priv's rivals.

I was pleasantly surprised by the main camera on the Priv, though. Historically BlackBerry has struggled to put decent cameras in its smartphones, but that's not usually been a huge issue due to the firm's focus on business users.

An Android device needs a strong camera though, and the Priv doesn't disappoint. It's not the best smartphone snapper on the market, but it'll take great shots the majority of the time.

Camera samples

BlackBerry Priv review

Click here for the full resolution image

BlackBerry Priv review

Click here for the full resolution image

BlackBerry Priv review

Click here for the full resolution image

BlackBerry Priv review

Click here for the full resolution image

BlackBerry Priv review

Click here for the full resolution image

BlackBerry Priv review

Click here for the full resolution image

BlackBerry Priv review

Click here for the full resolution image

Battery life

BlackBerry has managed to squeeze a sizeable 3,410mAh non-removable battery in the Priv, which is one of the largest power packs in the 2015 flagship lineup.

The Canadian firm claims the BlackBerry Priv is good for 22.5 hours of "mixed usage" on a single charge with, and to be fair the Priv does get close to that figure.

I found that the Priv regularly managed to see out a full day (7am to 11pm) on a single charge, although when it came to plugging it in at night I did find the level tended to be in the low teens, with Android's power-saving mode activated.

A day's usage usually consisted of a couple hours of Spotify streaming, a handful of calls and texts, and multiple emails and WhatsApp messages, along with healthy doses of web browsing, social media action and gaming.

BlackBerry Priv review

This means the BlackBerry Priv pretty much matches the battery performance of its flagship rivals, with a full day now the benchmark for our top-flight phones.

I ran the 90-minute HD video test on the Priv, with screen brightness on full and various accounts syncing over Wi-Fi in the background. At the end of the video the BlackBerry Priv had lost 20% of its juice, a pretty respectable result.

It puts the Priv on a par with the iPhone 6S Plus (22% loss) and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ (23%), while performing better than the HTC One M9 (31%) and Moto X Style (30%).

For those planning on transitioning from the BlackBerry Classic or BlackBerry Passport, the Priv's battery performance is also on a par with those devices, but if you're looking to finally upgrade from an older Bold or Curve the Priv won't last as long.

BlackBerry Priv review

If you do start running low the good news is that the BlackBerry Priv comes with Quick Charge, enabling you to get seven hours of usage from a half-hour charge – you will need the Quick Charge-enabled plug adapter to take advantage of this feature though.

The edge screen also comes in handy when you're charging the Priv, displaying a slender battery meter showing the handset's battery percentage.

This means you can sit the Priv on your desk or bedside table and see how much juice you've currently got without having to illuminate the full display, saving on power consumption.

Competition

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge / S6 Edge+

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

One of the closest competitors of the BlackBerry Priv is the Galaxy S6 Edge (and larger S6 Edge+), which in itself is good news for the Canadian firm – it's been years since its handsets could be seriously considered worthy rivals to the Korean giant's high-end offerings.

The Galaxy S6 Edge also has a luscious dual-curve QHD display, which looks simply fabulous, and Samsung has wrapped it in a beautiful metal and glass body. The overall effect is a handset which looks like it's travelled back from the future.

The Priv can't match the S6 Edge in terms of premium look and feel, nor can it match the Samsung's performance, which is consistently slick. Then consider that you can pick up the S6 Edge for less than the Priv SIM-free and it's tricky to recommend BlackBerry's latest smartphone over it.

One thing the S6 Edge doesn't have, though, is a physical keyboard – and you don't get that retro-cool slider mechanism either.

BlackBerry Passport

BlackBerry Passport

The Priv isn't BlackBerry's only smartphone – in fact there are two other top-level devices currently in the firm's stable. And for those looking for a big screen, and a more traditional BlackBerry-esque experience, the oddly proportioned Passport could be up your street.

It's the only square smartphone on the market, and for many it's just too crazy – and the presence of the BlackBerry 10 OS keeps this phone out of the mainstream market.

Yet, those who love the BlackBerry keyboard do love the Passport, and the extra screen real estate is perfect for lengthy emails, packed calendars and some serious web browsing.

LG G4

LG G4

A very similar-size screen (5.5 inches vs 5.4 inches), the same screen resolution, the same power and the same operating system – the LG G4 and BlackBerry Priv have a number of similarities.

And both phones sport slightly unusual designs, with the G4 featuring a banana-esque curve and (if you opt for it) a leather back.

The LG G4 has witnessed one of the most impressive price drops among flagship devices since launch, and can now be picked up for the same price as some mid-tier handsets.

Battery life isn't the greatest on the G4, and build – as with the Priv – leaves a little to be desired. It's easier to accept these shortcomings in the G4 though, thanks to the lower price – and price is what hobbles the Priv somewhat.

BlackBerry Classic

BlackBerry Classic

Is the Priv the perfect smartphone for loyal BlackBerry fans? Probably not. For those of you who live and die by the physical keyboard, the BlackBerry Classic is likely to be far more up your street.

As the name suggests, the Classic takes its cues from BlackBerry handsets of old, with the iconic design, keyboard layout and square screen all present to delight the BB faithful.

If you're looking for a portable email machine the Classic is still the best option out there; but these days many of us want our smartphones to do a lot more than just email, and it's in meeting these additional demands where the Classic falls down and the Priv steps up.

Verdict

The BlackBerry Priv is the mullet of the smartphone world – while it's still business up front, there's now a party going on round the back too.

Is that a combination people actually want though? It'll divide opinion for sure, but there's no questioning that the Priv is the best BlackBerry in years.

BlackBerry Priv review

We liked

The 5.4-inch QHD display on the Priv is excellent. Its subtle dual curved edges are attractive, detail is pin sharp and it enables you to actually enjoy videos and games on a BlackBerry device.

I'm also a big fan of stock Android, which BlackBerry has only altered in a couple of minor ways, while adding a smattering of its own applications. It's clean, clutter-free and enjoyable to use.

The added security will be a big plus point for many, with the Priv able to show you how to improve the privacy of the handset – and that's after BlackBerry has done additional work to secure both the hardware and software.

The Priv lacks the premium design to match its premium price tag, but even though the plastic is a bit creaky on the rear I'm quite taken with its stylings. It offers something a bit different – and I could play with that slider all day.

We disliked

My main disappointment with the Priv is its performance. It's just too patchy for a truly great on-screen experience, with noticeable lag in the system and within the camera app.

It doesn't happen all the time, and for large parts of the review period the Priv ran smoothly; but there were frequent occasions where the slowdown was noticeable, and that's a real shame.

The sliding mechanism is fun to play with, while rekindling fond memories of phones gone by, but the physical keyboard it hides feels outdated and clunky. The keys will be too small for many users, and the advances in touchscreen keyboards mean they're now superior to BlackBerry's dainty keys.

BlackBerry Priv review

Final verdict

Don't get me wrong – I really, really like the BlackBerry Priv. It's a great high-end Android phone, especially when you consider who's made it.

Finally we have a BlackBerry smartphone with all the apps you want, with a screen you can actually enjoy videos and games on, and an interface that's far more familiar and intuitive (for the general public at least) than that on the BlackBerry 10.

Trouble is, I wanted to love the Priv – and this is a phone that BlackBerry really needs people to love if the company's ever going to get back into the consumer hardware market – but I just don't.

The flakey performance and absence of a properly premium design, coupled with a price tag which makes it more expensive than the established Android flagship players, makes the BlackBerry Priv very difficult to recommend over its closest rivals.

It's by far the best phone BlackBerry has produced in recent years – but once again I can't help but feel that it's just too little, too late.

First reviewed: November 2015










;

GENERAL
2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100
4G Network LTE band 1(2100), 3(1800), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900) LTE band 1(2100), 2(1900), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 7(2600), 8(900), 13(700), 17(700), 20(800)
Sim Nano-SIM - Capacitive touch 3-row BlackBerry keyboard
Announced 6/1/2015
Status Available. Released 2014, September
BODY
Dimensions 128 x 90.3 x 9.3 mm (5.04 x 3.56 x 0.37 in)
Weight 196 g (6.91 oz)
DISPLAY
Display Size 4.5 inches (~56.5% screen-to-body ratio)
MultiTouch Yes, up to 10 fingers
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 3
SOUND
AlertTypes Vibration; MP3, WAV ringtones
LoudSpeaker Yes, with stereo speakers
3.5mm jack Yes
MEMORY
CardSlot microSD, up to 128 GB
Internal 32 GB, 3 GB RAM
DATA
GPRS Yes
EDGE Yes
Speed HSPA, LTE
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, hotspot
Blue Tooth v4.0, A2DP, LE
NFC Yes
USB microUSB v2.0 (SlimPort)
CAMERA
Camera Primary 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, optical image stabilization, LED flash, check quality
Camera Features Geo-tagging, face detection, HDR
CameraVideo 1080p@60fps, check quality
CameraSecondary 2 MP, 720p
FEATURES
OS BlackBerry OS 10.3, upgradable to v10.3.1
CPU Quad-core 2.26 GHz Krait 400
Sensors Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Messaging SMS, MMS, Email, Push Email, IM, BBM 6
Browser HTML5
Radio FM radio with RDS
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS
Java Yes, MIDP 2.1
Colors Black, White, Red, Black&Gold
Others - BlackBerry Assistant - BlackBerry maps - Organizer - Document viewer - Photo viewer/editor - Video editor - MP3/WMA/WAV/eAAC+/FlAC player - DivX/XviD/MP4/WMV/H.264 player - Voice memo/dial - Predictive text input
BATTERY
Battery Non-removable Li-Ion 3450 mAh battery
StandBy Up to 432 h (2G) / Up to 444 h (3G)
TalkTime Up to 18 h (2G) / Up to 23 h (3G)
MISC
Review: BlackBerry Passport

Introduction and design

Update: Interested in getting your hands on the Blackberry Passport? For our US readers, you'll want to check out an AT&T Store near you. For pricing details, have a look here. Also, if you're interested in another perspective on the Blackberry Passport, Jeff Parsons went into detail on his intense love/hate relationship with the smartphone in question.

BlackBerry's square-shaped new flagship is here, and it's just as weird in real life as it looks in the promotional pictures. It's a square, boxy little device with a metallic trim and a dumpy physical keyboard attached to the bottom. Ergonomics? Screw 'em.

And yet, dig a little deeper and there might just be something there after all. The 4.5-inch slab boasts a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM.

There's 32GB of storage, a microSD slot and a rear-facing 13MP camera. In other words, the Canadian company has thrown everything at this device when it comes to specs.

It's not a cheap phone either: it's £529 for a SIM free version ($599, around AU$680) and free on a £30 to £35 a month contract in the UK - meaning it's up there with the iPhones, HTC and Samsung phones of the world.

BlackBerry Passport review

BlackBerry's also confident the new form factor best suits those business customers that are the unabashed target of this device.

It calls them "power users" and argues that they want a device for working on. Emails, spreadsheets, reports – basically, what BlackBerry has always been known for. The 4.5-inch 1:1 screen incorporates 60 characters in a line, compared to the 40 on a regular smartphone.

Early indicators seem to show that people are responding to it well. BlackBerry says it has already taken 200,000 orders for the Passport and is in the process of developing another "unconventional" device.

The former phone heavyweight has a long way to go to recapture past glories and previous handsets like the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 failed to impress.

BlackBerry Passport review

This seems different though, it's not a case of following the likes of the iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy Alpha, it's a case of genuinely trying something different. Unfortunately, it also makes some rather basic errors when doing so.

Design

The biggest talking point about the BlackBerry Passport comes from its, ahem, unconventional appearance. People will notice it, and they'll ask about it.

The design is based around the 4.5-inch square screen that, with a 1:1 aspect ratio, is unlike any other smartphone on the market.

There's no portrait or landscape mode to be had here – it's a perfect square. This begets the obvious question of why – why has BlackBerry done this? Well, it ties in to the type of customer the company is focusing its efforts on.

BlackBerry Passport review

BlackBerry is betting that you'll be using the Passport for checking spreadsheets, office documents, ebooks, presentations and full-scale websites. All of which, it says, are reproduced better on the square, 1440 x 1400 Gorilla Glass 3 screen.

It's an undeniably weird-looking phone, but BlackBerry tried to follow the crowd with the BlackBerry Z10 and it didn't work. So props to the company for attempting something a little bit different.

The second big design point is the return of the keyboard – which was always BlackBerry's calling card. It's attached to the bottom of the screen with a somewhat squat appearance – due to dropping from four rows of keys to three. This means common punctuation marks, as well as numbers, appear as on-screen keys directly above the physical buttons.

BlackBerry Passport review

Once you get past the alternative form factor, the Passport is an attractive handset. There's a stainless steel trim that runs along the edges of the phone while the back is a soft rubberised plastic that's comfortable to grip while you fire out emails from the keyboard.

You'll find three physical buttons on the right hand side, used to control volume as well as pause music or video playback. The power switch meanwhile is on top of the handset (as is the 3.5mm headphone jack) and placed slightly right-of-centre.

BlackBerry Passport review

Given the width of the phone, it's extremely difficult to hit this when you're operating it one handed. I always found it easier to slide upwards on the capacitive screen to unlock the phone instead. I'm not quite sure why BlackBerry didn't put the power switch on the side of the device.

BlackBerry Passport review

There's a heft to the 194g BlackBerry Passport; but the Canadian company has kept the chassis to a fairly standard 9.3mm thickness. And it looks smart thanks to the black and silver design and the blend of materials BlackBerry's used. It reminded me of a PDA from the mid-90s. Take from that what you will.

It's clear the design of the BlackBerry Passport is more suited to the inside jacket pocket than the one on the sides of your jeans. Also, in real life the size of the device makes it unwieldy. It measures 90.3mm wide and 128mm long and, as I said, is very difficult to use with just one hand.

BlackBerry Passport review

This is a phone meant for prolonged productivity rather than a quick bout of social media browsing. The problem with that is that for most working types, prolonged productivity is handled during the day at a desk on a laptop or desktop. We want to be able to use our phones quickly while out and about and that can often mean one-handed use, which this phone is awful for.

To assume that people will only buy this device for work is plain folly - the modern smartphone can do it all, and for the high end price being charged for this phone, I'd expect it to do so.

Key features

Keyboard

Having always looked favourably on physical keyboards – a particular favourite was the Nokia N97 – I was anxious to get going with the BlackBerry Passport's offering.

In practice, using the keyboard is a really nice experience – there's decent travel on the keys and each button is backlit so you can type away in the dark. And it's comfortable thanks to the moulded keys.

BlackBerry Passport review

But, there are some issues with it. Firstly, it's cramped – meaning that on occasion, I mis-hit a letter. Secondly, and more importantly, speed will take a hit for anyone used to bashing out texts on a touchscreen. Which, these days, is pretty much everyone.

One very cool feature is that the keyboard itself has touch functionality built into it. A swift double-tap activates a bubble-like cursor that you can use to scan your message or email although in use, this feature really is more trouble than its worth.

You can also swipe directly across the keyboard to scroll up or down websites, leaving the screen free to view. It's a small, but really good feature that adds a bit of extra usability to the keyboard.

BlackBerry Blend

The new BlackBerry Blend feature lets you effectively access your phone remotely via an encrypted Wi-Fi connection from any PC, Mac or Android tablets. All the content (messages, documents, media) stored on the Passport are accessible in real time and changes you make are reflected on the handset.

As for the security requirements, I was told that none of the data remains on the login device after you close the software down.

The principle behind it is that you can still access the Passport even if you've left it at home or the office.

It's also the method by which you can put media on the Passport and requires installation on a Windows PC before you can transfer anything. It's a bit frustrating when compared to Android's drag and drop simplicity. But, as we'll see later, chances are you won't be using the Passport for media.

BlackBerry Assistant

Joining the ranks of Siri and Cortana is the BlackBerry Assistant. Like the aforementioned digital PAs, you can use the Assistant to set reminders and prompt you with the weather as well as dictating search terms.

BlackBerry Passport review

In most cases it picked up on my question. There's a bit of a wait time as the Passport casts around for the answer though. The Assistant currently recognises commands in English, German, Spanish and Italian.

Interface and performance

Make fun of the boxy screen all you want, but BlackBerry has put some serious muscle into the Passport. It runs on a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with a massive 3GB of RAM.

Combine that with the integrated nature of the operating system and you've got a very smooth, very quick device.

There's 32GB of native storage on board, but you can boost that up that to 128GB thanks to the microSD card nestled next to the nanoSIM slot.

BlackBerry Passport review

Connectivity-wise, you're looking at Bluetooth 4.0 LE, NFC, Wi-Fi and LTE in terms of wireless and a single physical microUSB port. BlackBerry provides a SlimPort HDMI adaptor in the box that plugs into the port and lets you hook the Passport up to a monitor or TV. That's pretty cool.

On paper, the Passport has enough under the hood to go up against some of the best smartphones out there and, while it's got a tailored audience, any user is going to appreciate the power.

Multitasking in particular works well, given the amount of RAM on offer and the tiled homescreen that shows currently running apps lets you quickly dive in and out of active programs.

BlackBerry Passport review

BlackBerry's newly updated BB10 OS is as much a USP of the Passport as it's interesting design. It's focused around BlackBerry Hub that compiles all your notifications from various email and social network accounts.

Swiping right takes you to the aforementioned open apps screen and a second right swipe takes you to the grid layout for app shortcuts.

BlackBerry Passport review

On top of BlackBerry Hub is the Priority Hub, which learns the interactions that are important to you and collects them into a single stream. You can also manually tailor this to your liking. Even a small amount of time using this feature is rewarding as I was suddenly spared the hassle of jumping between apps to check updates.

BlackBerry Passport review

A lot of the interface is navigated by swiping which is a good idea in theory but falls down in practice. Sometimes it would take two or three swipes for the Passport to acknowledge what I wanted it to do.

There's still a lot of swiping involved if you want to get anywhere anyway. A simple, physical home button like that on the iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy S5 would have been a really useful addition.

Apps were a massive downfall of earlier Blackberry's, but the company has remedied this to an extent by partnering with Amazon. The full Amazon Appstore (some 250,000 apps) are available to use on the Passport.

BlackBerry Passport review

There's also BlackBerry World, which is the company's own app store with curated content that, as you'd expect, caters towards the business user.

Some apps I tried, like Wikipedia or Yahoo Mail, adapt well to the 1:1 screen while others (notably gaming and media) suffer from the shift from widescreen.

As a side note, gaming is far from the Passport's strong point. There's no way of using the physical keyboard with the games and trying to tilt the device to steer/move is really hampered by the shape of the chassis.

BlackBerry Passport review

Also, it goes without saying that while some of the major apps are there, others aren't. There's no Instragram and no Snapchat. But there is Tinder, if that's your thing.

Some people might say that having Snapchat on this phone is irrelevant. It's a business phone after all.

Except, well, it's not though. If it was then the Amazon App Store wouldn't be needed. If apps weren't of interest, why bother with that at all? A phone needs to be able to turn its hand to anything - a jack of all trades and a sort of master of some, where the Passport is amazing in some respects, but costs the same as the other phones which can do so much more.

Battery and the essentials

BlackBerry is making a bold claim when it comes to the 3,450mAh battery. The company says that it will provide up to 30 hours of mixed use for a "very active user". That's in part due to the latest BlackBerry 10.3 OS which, the company says, has made significant improvement when it comes to power consumption.

BlackBerry Passport review

The company has a vested interested in being bullish about battery life as, given the target customer for the Passport, it's likely to be a chief concern. The handset charges via a microUSB port on the bottom of the phone and should take only a couple of hours to juice up completely.

BlackBerry Passport review

Unlike other prominent handsets, there isn't any kind of power saving mode that turns off the non-essential or intensive apps in order to save power. Presumably, BlackBerry is confident enough of the battery prowess of the Passport that it deems such things unnecessary.

Thankfully, it actually proved true. I was able to use the Passport pretty solidly for a couple of days at a time without needing a nightly recharge. A 90-minute video, playing with full brightness and all push notifications enabled only dropped the battery to 87% from a full charge.

BlackBerry Passport review

I was very impressed with the battery performance and would list it as one of the handset's best features.

The essentials

The essential features are, in the Passport's case, handled well. The bells and whistles are what drag the phone down a bit, but that's not what this section is about.

It's true that these elements are starting to become less important for customers who will increasingly use Skype or FaceTime rather than a phone call, or Whatsapp over a text message. But, like everyone's least favourite grandparent, we're still clinging onto that which was important back in our day.

Calling

There's plenty to talk about in the rough and tumble world of business and the Passport delivers a clear audio signal with plenty of volume to be mined. The difficulty comes with the fact that the form factor makes it quite uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time.

BlackBerry Passport review

Like some phablets (the Sony Xperia Z Ultra comes to mind) it's possible to wrap your fingers around the Passport, but not comfortably so. Thankfully, it has Bluetooth 4.0 and a 3.5mm headphone port, so you can use a hands-free device to save your strength.

The contacts app blends all the contacts from your various social networks as well as your SIM card. You're likely to see some duplication at first, although each can be linked under a single contact card.

Under each contact, you'll get not just their stored details, but also latest updates from whichever network you have them linked onto. Profile pictures from said network are already added as thumbnail images in the address book.

BlackBerry Passport review

At any time you can pull up your call history and the dial pad by clicking the phone icon in the lower left hand corner. Of course, that's easier said than done if you're holding the Passport in your right hand and trying to operate it one-handed.

Messaging and email

Both SMS messages and emails are combined in BlackBerry's Hub feature, making it particularly easy to find all your incoming mail. Swiping to the right brings up the toolbar showing which accounts are connected to the hub and indicated how many unread messages are in each account.

It's a useful way of having your business and personal email alongside your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles and save time when checking.

BlackBerry Passport review

You can delete each message or notification directly from the hub as well as shunt them off to a designated folder. If (like men and most working professionals) you receive hundreds of emails a day, the ability to quickly delete is a real blessing. There's also a search option that lets you track back through your various inbox to locate a particular message or recipient.

BlackBerry Passport review

Messaging is one area of usage where the Passport's form factor really helps. Emails (particularly because they tend to be longer) are really well displayed and the raison d'être for the screen being the way it is. Text messages are likewise very well displayed and it makes reading them much easier than on a standard display.

There's a lot more space to also view images and attachments and, of course, there's still BlackBerry Messenger there if you're still a big user.

BlackBerry Passport review

Composing on the Passport is a Marmite experience. I covered it earlier in the review when talking about the keyboard and it really comes down to the length of the message. I found that for longer emails, it was helpful to have the physical keys there.

However, my text messages are usually shorter and laced with shorthand and in these situations, the keyboard was more a hindrance than a simple on-screen offering.

Internet

The Passport comes running BlackBerry's proprietary browser which defaults to a tiled screen of previously visited sites. The address bar is located at the bottom meaning you don't have to reach up to the top of the screen if you're using the phone in one hand.

BlackBerry Passport review

There's no Google Chrome browser available because Google's apps can't be accessed from the Amazon appstore but fear not, because BlackBerry's effort does have some useful tricks. There's tabbed browsing, and the ability to bookmark, for starters as well as the ability to copy the link or share the page to a social network.

Like Amazon's Silk browser for Kindle and Safari for iOS, you can also engage a reader mode that strips away images and navigation bars, leaving you with just the content. It doesn't work on all pages, but when it does it can be very useful.

As is the option to save the page for later reading offline – a feature I don't use nearly as much as I should.

Just like with messaging, web browsing can benefit from the 1:1 aspect ratio of the 4.5-inch screen. In most cases, I found it better to load the desktop version of a website for no other reason than because I could view it all without having to scroll around.

BlackBerry Passport review

As with reading and constructing emails, browsing the web is a really solid experience on the Passport and it actually benefits from the phone being shaped the way it is.

Camera

BlackBerry has equipped the Passport with a 13MP rear-facing camera with an LED flash and a couple of extra features like panorama, burst mode and time shift. There's an LED flash as well as the option to take images at 16:9, 4.3 and the Passport's own 1:1 aspect ratio.

BlackBerry Passport review

Full HD 1080p video is supported, and you'll be able to get 720p video calling from the Passport's 2MP front-facing camera. Interacting with the camera is done via the touchscreen, as you pinch to zoom in and out and tap to set the focal point.

BlackBerry Passport review

First impressions are that the camera is solid without really offering much of a challenge to the established smartphone titans. There's built-in intelligence for suggesting the best shooting mode for the conditions you're in and the Passport also boasts HDR for capturing light and dark contrasts.

BlackBerry Passport review

Additionally, BlackBerry has built optical image stabilisation (OIS) into the Passport's camera to eliminate judders. It's a feature become adopted elsewhere (like the iPhone 6 Plus) and really helps when taking pictures quickly.

A nice touch is that you can use either the volume keys on the right hand side of the device, or the space bar on the keyboard, to take a picture. There's also BlackBerry's dedicated Pictures app for adding filters and effects to your shots after you've taken them.

BlackBerry Passport review

There's also a Story Mode that'll stitch together your pictures and videos for an on-the-fly slideshow set to music.

Have a look below at some example shots taken with the Passport's camera.

BlackBerry Passport review

BlackBerry Passport review

BlackBerry Passport review

BlackBerry Passport review

BlackBerry Passport review

Media

Media in general, doesn't really hold up on the 1:1 screen. Movies are well reproduced on the 1440 x 1400 screen, chiefly because of the massive 453 pixel density. But there's no getting away from the letterbox lines that appear on the top and bottom of the screen.

BlackBerry Passport review

You can change the picture to full-screen, but you're going to lose some of the action off each side. If you consume vast amounts of video on your phone, go someplace else.

The same is true for playing certain types of games. Although the 3GB of RAM and Snapdragon processor means that graphically intensive 3D games, like Sonic Racing, run smoothly, the effect is ruined by the aspect ratio on the screen.

BlackBerry Passport review

I mentioned this in the previous section, but the shape of the device doesn't work for gesture controlled gaming. Although more casual 2D games like Candy Crush translate better to the Passport's square screen.

Music obviously fares a little better as you've got 32GB of storage and then a microSD card to use. If you prefer streaming your music, you'll find Spotify and SoundCloud on the Amazon appstore, although Google Play Music isn't available - as you might imagine.

BlackBerry also provides some decent in-ear headphones with the Passport. Music quality veers more towards the treble than the bass. You can't use the physical keyboard to control the playback although BlackBerry has added a mute button on the right hand side between the volume rockers.

BlackBerry Passport review

There's not a whole lot more to say on the subject of media. BlackBerry doesn't want you sitting back with the latest episode of Boardwalk Empire; it wants you hard at work on the office budget. And, given how intrinsic video consumption is to our modern day smartphone usage, the square design of the Passport just doesn't work in this regard.

The competition

BlackBerry Q10

BlackBerry Passport review

Comparing the Passport with any other handset in a like-for-like test isn't easy because there's nothing quite like it around. But if a physical keyboard trumps all else for you, then BlackBerry's unassuming 2013 handset is your best bet.

We named it the best QWERTY handset on the market when we reviewed it and while that's been usurped by the Passport they're pretty much in a category all their own these days.

The Q10 is a winner in terms of price – you can get one SIM free for around the £200 mark, its specs can't hold up against the Passport.

The elder BlackBerry boasts impressive connections: 4G, NFC and even microHDMI, but the power isn't there. All the Q10 offers is 16GB of storage, an 8MP rear-facing camera and a 720p 3.1-inch display.

If cost and physical keys are the sole buying decisions you face then grab the Q10, but the Passport surpasses it in every other way.

Apple iPhone 6

BlackBerry Passport review

The main contender for any top-tier smartphone is the latest iPhone. It might not have the "business credentials" of BlackBerry's offering, but the nearly limitless apps means you can find just about any use for Cupertino's current standard bearer.

Some specifications, on paper, aren't as strong as what the Passport offers: dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and an 8GB camera around back. But other parts of the handset, namely the choice of 128GB of storage and a 4.7-inch LED-backlit display, are far more appealing.

Apple, as ever, puts a high price on its handsets – so BlackBerry has affordability in the Passport's corner (only just), but I'm not convinced it's enough.

The BlackBerry faithful may argue that the iPhone isn't a business device and that "power professionals" need something more attuned to office needs, but unfortunately, it's irrelevant. Apple has supplanted BlackBerry as the brand to beat in the boardroom.

That being said, the Passport makes a great secondary device to an iPhone – combine the two and you're set for work and play. If you're a millionaire, of course. Or just love having two phones.

Nokia Lumia 930

BlackBerry Passport review

The colourful Lumia 930 isn't the first phone to associate with a sharp-suited business professional, but it has its benefits. Namely, the Windows Phone 8 operating system will work in beautiful harmony with any Windows PC you happen to be using at the office. Viewing and editing MS Office documents on the phone is a great experience.

Likewise, the 20MP camera that Nokia has fashioned with a PureView sensor and Carl Zeiss lens is very good indeed. There's a range of extra camera apps as well for adding in effects while the tutorials generally just take your photography to another level.

Photography might not be a key feature for business users, but it's an integral part of any smartphone and Nokia has BlackBerry beat in this category. As it does with the 5-inch OLED HD display.

However, there's no way the 2,420mAh battery can compete with the 3,450mAh slab tucked inside the Passport. It's one of BlackBerry's strongest features on this phone and will last for a lot longer than what Nokia can offer. If you want to be editing documents at all hours of the day and night, the Passport will have you sorted power-wise.

Verdict

The BlackBerry Passport is a phone that'll receive interest and dismissal in equal measure. It's a strange-looking beast that can't help but draw the eye even though most people probably won't want to use it – too enshrined are they with the 16:9 landscape touchscreen form factor.

BlackBerry Passport review

Taking into account what BlackBerry is going for it can be a very useful device. Web pages and documents look good, and for keyboard junkies, the return of physical buttons will really appeal.

There's also the fact that it's got some decent specs on board – including impressive battery life - that'll see it lasting well through a 24-month contract. But at best I feel this makes it the perfect secondary device rather than the all-encompassing primary smartphone every business user must own.

We liked

The battery life is fantastic on the Passport. I used it for a couple of weeks and found that it would easily manage up to a couple of days of fairly heavy usage and still have battery remaining.

Other phones are catching up in the battery department, the Sony Xperia Z3 for example, but BlackBerry's Passport really does throw the gauntlet down in this department.

Aspects of BlackBerry's OS have also really come forward and the BlackBerry Hub, I feel, was very useful in filtering the daily slew of emails, text messages and social media updates I get.

Other parts of the OS aren't quite as exciting – BlackBerry Assistant is good, but doesn't do anything that Siri or Google Now can't. The Hub system though is a real winner.

I'll also say that I liked the keyboard – and the fact it has touch functionality overlaid as well. Now that touchscreen keyboards are so ubiquitous and accurate, it's not as big a feature as BlackBerry tries to make out. There are problems – it's a bit cramped and can reduce speed, but I definitely felt I got used to it after a while and that sensation would only increase.

We disliked

No matter how many full-screen websites and long, convoluted emails the Passports 1:1 4.5-inch screen lovingly displays, I still can't say the form factor is a good one.

Using the Passport one-handed is practically impossible for anything other than scrolling and the placement of the buttons just doesn't make much sense.

It's heavy and awkward to carry around. Despite the best intentions of BlackBerry's representative to persuade me otherwise, this is not a device you can easily stick into your jeans pocket and carry around.

Likewise, when it comes to video and, to a certain extent, gaming, this phone is awful. No-one puts out content in 4:3 anymore, let alone 1:1, so watching anything involves squinting at the screen or blowing it up and losing the edges of the picture.

Given that content providers like Sky, Netflix and Amazon are striving to make it easier for us to access video on-the-go, it's a shame you'll never want to do it on this piece of tech.

Verdict

I'm confident in saying this is the best phone BlackBerry has yet produced, hands down. There's serious processing power, copious amounts of storage, a decent camera, plenty of connectivity, useful software features and an HD screen.

BlackBerry Passport review

What I'm also confident in saying is that there's no way this is going to supplant a regular smartphone like the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy Alpha or iPhone 6 as your main device. At best, it'll be a secondary, work-focused piece of tech that'll be relegated to a specific set of tasks.

BlackBerry has succeeded in doing something different and producing a new device that sums up everything it is as a brand. That is a brilliant thing, and to those that feel this is aimed at them (medical professionals, entrepreneurs, the email-obsessed) then it should be up there as one of the first phones you consider.

But for everyone else, this is unashamedly a productivity-centric machine that'll let you take your work around with you. What it's not is the market's best new smartphone.








;
7 days in smartphones: Dear Microsoft, please don't eat my Android phone

Your princess isn't in another smartphone

It's Friday. You're giddy with excitement. It can only mean one thing…7 days in smartphones is back again!

Forget being "social" with your so-called "friends", stay here in the dark with as we try to make you laugh. Once. It's the best we can hope for.

It's-A-Not-Me, Mario!

Nintendo is finally entering the smartphone market. We've waited years to say it and – phwoar– that felt seriously good.

The bad news is it isn't exactly as we'd anticipated, it looks like Mario and co will be taking a back seat to make way for new mobile franchises.

Link on a horse

The move comes after a partnership with developer DeNA who will have free reign over the Nintendo IPs but won't be aiming to create ports of Wii U or 3DS games.

Instead it'll be focusing on new titles – is that really such a bad thing? Well, probably - these things rarely go well.

Even though the Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, rinse and repeat formula can sometimes feel a little tiresome, Nintendo wanting to enter the world of Candy Crush doesn't necessarily fill me with glee.

That said, if anyone can do it with style and create some new engaging characters to go on the journey with, surely it's Nintendo. You hear that Iwata? My credit card is waiting and I'm ready and waiting to make micro payments now.

Microsoft wants your Android!

Windows 10 news now smartphans: Microsoft wants to bring its new operating system to your Android smartphone.

Wait, WHAT?!

Yeah, that's right, Microsoft wants to wrangle your unrestricted OS, throw up a bunch of electric fences and restrict the amount of apps you'll be able to download.

Microsoft Windows 10

OK, maybe not quite like that, but the Softies have announced plans to allow users to trial a custom ROM on the Xiamoi Mi 4 that removes all trace of the Android OS for an almost complete version of Windows 10.

It's Microsoft's attempt to steal users from the Android ecosystem and switch them over to Windows Phone, but it'll be some seriously hard work considering the reduced number of apps available on the platform.

Will anyone actually choose to make their Android run Windows Phone? Only time will tell.

Or, well, no.

One hoof forward

One hoof, two hoof, three hoof, four, repeat. Walking was becoming easier by the day as Winston's long recovery continued to drag.

"You're doing great, just a few more steps" reassured the nurse ready to catch him at the slightest sign of a stumble.

One hoof, two hoof, three hoof, four, done. Winston collapsed into the really rather long wheelchair, sweat dripping from his mane. The nurse looked at him sympathetically, stroking his fetlock, and said tenderly: "That's enough for one day... let's get you back to your bed."

Wheeled back to the side of his bed, he clambered onto the sheets and forced himself to look at the odd, faceless black brick that seemed to be staring him from the bedside table.

Over the preceding days and weeks he'd gradually been building the confidence to explore the Apple iPhone and take control of his first ever keyless smartphone. OK, the Storm didn't have any keys... except it did. The whole display was a key. It was glorious, but now it was gone.

In that time he'd learnt how to turn on the display, unlock it, take a few snaps around his hospital room and even get used to the onscreen keyboard. Apps were still a weird experience: he'd finally realised how to download them, but was bewildered by how many there were. Inside, he still missed the choice of just 11 that used to populate BlackBerry App World.

Then the day came: it was time to go home. His rehab was over. It was time to venture back out into the world, a robotic unicorn sent out to live once again.

With an NHS prescribed iPhone 6 Plus in his left hoof, a small bag of belongings in his right, it was time to flip open Apple Maps, type in Mobonia, get confused as to why it wasn't there (before finding it simply on Google Maps) and continue on his journey, but where next?

A flagship for the Shin!

Although likely not the best smartphone you've ever owned, the Samsung Galaxy S ended up being one of the major competitors to the iPhone 4.

Here are some of the highlights from the one and only JK Shin announcing it way back in March 2010. Kevin from Twitter is definitely NOT reading from an auto-cue.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9m4-CbvuR8

Strange press shot of the week

Sony Camera Lens

*Read in your best David Attenborough voice*

Here we see a young stubble-styled hipster out of his normal Shoreditch habitat, discovering the phenomenon of fresh berries.

This specimen, likely known as Atticus to his friends, has lost his Polaroid camera and decides to join the modern world with the Sony QX100 Lens Style Camera for smartphones and tablets.

He attaches it to a Sony Xperia Z2 to snap some blackberries and then ask all his Instagram friends what they are.

Sadly he has yet to receive a response as none of his followers could identify them through the Nashville filter.

Retro video of the week

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1YBrVevn4w

"You know there's a sexier way to connect to the web." That was the slogan of the Siemens C35i.

It seems the company wanted to sex up its image – if that's even possible with a NSFW name like Siemens – so it employed some proper hot bods to strut around the emptiest, weirdest lit nightclub in all of Germany.

If you can discern what actually happens at the end of the video please let us know in the comments as our tiny little tech focused minds can't work it out.

Proper bits from the site

Remember the best phone you ever had? It was likely the Nokia 3310 and we went on a journey through time to bring you back the best details we could find on it – just look how pretty it is!

EE has replaced its Orange Wednesday's deal with a significantly less exciting streaming proposition. We don't know exactly what kind of films it'll include just yet but we can speculate 70% of them will include Steven Seagal.

Dyson has invested in some new technology to make your smartphone's, and your vacuum cleaner's, battery last even longer.

And finally the auto-tuned Robocop look-a-like that is Will.i.am has teamed up with the fashion brand Gucci to bring you yet another horrible "smartband".








;
6 ways to expand storage on your iPhone 6

Intro, media streamer

Now that the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus have been on the market for well over half a year, users will have had ample time to fill their device's storage. As your collection of music, movies, videos, photos, apps and files grow on your iPhone, you may find yourself wanting a more expensive model configured with even more storage capacity.

Rather than trading in your existing 16GB iPhone for a larger one with 64GB or 128GB of storage, here are six ways to alleviate your storage woes:

1. BYO-storage with a wireless media streamer

Mobile wireless media streamers are portable devices that operate on battery power and can serve as a wireless drive for your iPhone. Rather than getting a wireless drive, wireless media streamers offer the flexibility for you to expand your storage options in the future.

Many of the devices allow you to either connect your own memory card with an SD or micro SDXC card slot on the device. A few offer the option to connect a USB drive so you can attach a portable hard drive or a USB flash drive.

Essentially, going this route converts your memory card, flash drive or hard drive into a wireless media sharing device. It instantly adds Wi-Fi to your existing storage media in a cost-effective manner, and you can swap between various memory cards or USB drives to further augment or manage your storage in the future as your needs change.

SanDisk Connect Wireless Drive

These devices include the SanDisk Connect Wireless Media Drive ($80, £65, AU$103), Verbatim Media Share ($37, £25, AU$47), and Kingston MobileLite Wireless G2 ($30, £20, AU$38).

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNRXSynLBIk

An upside to having a wireless media streamer is that you can share your content with multiple devices simultaneously. For business travelers, you can work on the same drive as up to eight or ten of your colleagues, depending on how many simultaneous mobile devices your drive allows. You can stream a video on your iPad while your assistant makes changes to a Word document, a partner reviews a PDF and a colleague makes the final edits to a PowerPoint presentation.

Wireless and Lightning drives

2. Cut the storage cord

If you want physical storage but don't want the wires, you can choose to get a wireless hard drive or wireless USB drive. Wireless hard drives are the most economical for those with big storage needs.

Wireless drives create their own Wi-Fi direct networks, similar to a wireless media streamer, and users can connect their mobile devices to that network to access the contents on the drive.

Like media streamers, many of these drives cap how many devices can simultaneously connect, with some drives supporting five connections and others going up to ten.

Wireless hard drives vary in capacity and costs. Examples include the 2TB Western Digital MyPassport Wireless drive ($199, £131, AU$253). 2TB LaCie Fuel ($220, £145, AU$280), 500GB Seagate Wireless Mobile Storage ($99, £66, AU$126) and 2TB Seagate Wireless Plus ($190, £126, AU$242).

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0InHsnH64Y

For faster speeds and reliability, a wireless solid state drive like the 128GB Toshiba Canvio AeroMobile Wireless ($150, £99, AU$191) is a great option.

SanDisk wireless flash drive

There are also wireless USB flash drives. Like the non-wireless counterpart, the 32GB SanDisk Wireless Connect Flash Drive ($40, £26, AU$51) works over USB so you can plug the unit into your Mac and PC to access your files. Once you're ready to share the files with your mobile device, you can connect your iPhone or iPad to the drive's Wi-Fi direct network. Users can also offload the contents on their phones to these drives to free up storage.

3. Let Lightning strike

Lightning drives are similar to USB flash drives for the computer. These drives plug into the Lightning port on your iPhone 6 as a USB flash drive plugs into your computer's USB port.

Many of these drives come with dual tips - one Lightning and one USB tip. This adds flexibility as you can connect the Lightning drives to your iPhone and to your Mac or PC to manage your files. If you have a file on your iPhone that you want to offload to the drive, you can connect the Lightning drive, move the file over using the supplied app, and then you can connect the drive to a computer to view the file.

Lightning drive

Examples in this category include the 16GB SanDisk iXpand ($68, £45, AU$87), 16GB Leef iBridge ($59, £39, AU$75) and 8GB Sanho Hyperdrive iStick ($79, £52, AU$100).

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_lB3SZTyHQ

If you like the idea of a dual-tipped Lightning drive but would rather bring your own storage with your own microSD card, the Aizbo i-Flash Drive is a good solution.

Aizbo

It has a lower entry price than drives with built-in storage at just $28 (£19, AU$36). You'll need to provide your own flash storage through micro SDXC cards. If you already have multi microSD cards, the advantage is that you can create an infinitely expandable flash drive by swapping memory cards.

Space Pack, cloud

4. Mophie Space Pack: a new storage odyssey

Even though the name sounds futuristic, the concept is quite simple. The Space Pack integrates a solid state drive into Mophie's battery charging case - it's a fancy way of saying there's integrated storage inside a Mophie Juice Pack.

Mophie Space Pack

These drives connect to the iPhone 6 via the Lightning port, so it's similar to the Lightning drives. Users can manage their files via the free Space app to access or move files to the Space Pack to free up the internal storage on the iPhone 6.

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v_6KO5599A

The Space Pack is available for preorder at this time, with capacities ranging from 32GB ($149, £100, AU$190) to 128GB ($299, £200, AU$381). At the 32GB price, you're essentially paying $49 (£32, AU$62) for the storage because the Juice Pack itself costs $100 (£66, AU$127).

5. Take your storage up, up and away

Given how ubiquitous mobile broadband connections are today, the cloud may be the easiest way to backup, store and manage files. Unlike hardware solutions, using the cloud doesn't require you to attach a drive into your phone's Lightning port or connect to the device's adhoc Wi-Fi network, and the cloud experience is like using any other app on your iPhone.

For photos, Flickr advertises 1TB of free cloud storage. Given that the iPhone is one of the most popular photo capture tools on the market, this should be plenty of space to archive and view your entire photo collection. That amount of storage, according to Flickr, is the equivalent of 500,000 photos.

Flickr Mobile app

Business users who rely on a mixed assortment of files - including photos, videos, documents, PDFs and more - can rely on any number of popular services such as Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and more. If your job uses Google Apps or Office 365, you already have a basic OneDrive or Google Drive account, and all you need to do is download the appropriate app(s).

Apple's own iCloud is a good option as well. For users staying within the Apple ecosystem, iDrive provides integration with the Photos app as well as productivity titles like Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.

iCloud

With cloud-based solutions, you will be accessing the internet over a Wi-Fi connection or a 3G or 4G network. If you're on a mobile broadband connection, you'll be using data on your phone plan, so be sure to budget in how much data access you'll need in addition to your cloud storage subscription plan.

The downside to relying on a third-party to host your files is that you're entrusting them with security and reliability. Depending on your business, you may not want to store sensitive or mission critical information on the cloud in case of a breach or if the cloud temporarily goes down.

NAS solutions

6. Like your own private island

Rather than entrusting others with your files, you can also host your own cloud. The process is as simple as buying a network attached storage, or NAS, drive and plugging it into your router.

These NAS drives give you the flexibility to access files from any machine on or off your home or office Wi-Fi network.

Unlike a standard hard drive that can only connect to one PC or Mac at a time, NAS drives can be accessed by multiple systems. If you're trying to access the contents of your NAS drive remotely, you'll need a good home or office network with fast upload speeds. This is especially true if you're looking at storing and accessing video files.

MyCloud

You can get drives with multiple terabytes of storage, and compared to true cloud options, you won't need to pay a subscription fee for your own cloud. You'll purchase the drive you want and the capacity you desire and just attach it to your existing home or office router and internet connection.

Examples include the 2TB Western Digital MyCloud ($150, £100, AU$191) and 3TB Seagate Personal Cloud ($170, £112, AU$217). If you're comfortable changing your router's settings, the 2TB Apple Time Capsule ($299, £200, AU$381) can be accessed remotely with a third-party File Explorer app on an iPad or iPhone.








;