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Nokia 9 PureView Android smartphone. Announced Feb 2019. Features 5.99″ P-OLED display, Snapdragon 845 chipset, 3320 mAh battery, 128 GB storage,
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Quick Overview
  • This Mobile runs on Android 9.0 (Pie); Android One powered with Octa-core (4x2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4x1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver).
  • This Mobile has 5x 12 MP, f/1.8, 28mm (wide), 1/2.9", 1.25µm (2x RGB & 3x B/W cameras, working simultaneously) TOF camera and has 20 MP, 1.0µm Secondary camera
  • This Mobile has 5.99 inches, 92.6 cm2 (~79.7% screen-to-body ratio) inches display P-OLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors.
  • This Mobile has 128 GB, 6 GB RAM of internal memory.
  • This Mobile has Non-removable Li-Po 3320 mAh battery
  • This Mobile has Single SIM (Nano-SIM) or Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by) - IP67 dust/water resistant (up to 1m for 30 mins) sim
  • Compare prices for Nokia 9 PureView in Saudi Arabia:
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GENERAL
2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2 (dual-SIM model only)
3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
4G Network LTE
Sim Single SIM (Nano-SIM) or Hybrid Dual SIM (Nano-SIM, dual stand-by) - IP67 dust/water resistant (up to 1m for 30 mins)
Announced 12/2/2019
Status Available. Released 2019, February
BODY
Dimensions 155 x 75 x 8 mm (6.10 x 2.95 x 0.31 in)
Weight 172 g (6.07 oz)
DISPLAY
Display Size 5.99 inches, 92.6 cm2 (~79.7% screen-to-body ratio)
Protection Corning Gorilla Glass 5 - Always-on display - HDR10
SOUND
LoudSpeaker Yes
3.5mm jack No - 24-bit/192kHz audio - Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
MEMORY
CardSlot No
Internal 128 GB, 6 GB RAM
DATA
GPRS Yes
EDGE Yes
Speed HSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A (5CA) Cat16 1024/150 Mbps
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Blue Tooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX
NFC Yes
USB 3.0, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector
CAMERA
Camera Primary 5x 12 MP, f/1.8, 28mm (wide), 1/2.9", 1.25µm (2x RGB & 3x B/W cameras, working simultaneously) TOF camera
Camera Features Zeiss optics, dual-LED dual-tone flash, HDR, panorama
CameraVideo 2160p@30fps, 1080p@30fps, HDR
CameraSecondary 20 MP, 1.0µm
FEATURES
OS Android 9.0 (Pie); Android One
CPU Octa-core (4x2.8 GHz Kryo 385 Gold & 4x1.7 GHz Kryo 385 Silver)
Sensors Fingerprint (under display), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer - ANT+
Radio No
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
Colors Midnight Blue
BATTERY
Battery Non-removable Li-Po 3320 mAh battery
MISC
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".








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UPDATED: All 38 Apple Watch designs: Every band, case and face so far

Apple Watch: watch cases and bands

Apple Watch features

This week was the Apple Watch launch day, but you can't try on the iPhone-compatible wearable yet since we're a month away from pre-orders and two weeks further from its official release date.

That's a problem for anxious early adopters who want it now. The April 24-bound smartwatch comes in a variety of colors and styles, way more than the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

In fact, there are 38 different Apple Watch choices (up from the original 34) and nine default watch faces with millions of customizations, according to Apple.

Here's every Apple Watch face, band and case announced so far, giving you extra time to decide which "iWatch" should be your watch before waiting in line.

Cases: Apple Watch vs Sport vs Watch Edition

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr72v7Z7m4Y

All Apple Watches boast the same rectangular design with rounded off corners, but they're divided up into three different case "collections" based on build materials.

Starting at $349 (£299) and costing as much as $17,000 (£13,500, AU$24,000), the names Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition, don't tell us a whole lot about those differences, so let's explain each watch case.

The regular Apple Watch

Apple Watch design and colors

Donning the "regular" Watch puts a highly polished stainless steel case on your wrist, one that comes in glossy metal colors of either space black or stainless steel.

Protecting the precious Retina display is sapphire crystal, which is the same glass that covers the Touch ID home button of newer iPhones.

Sapphire crystal is touted as the hardest transparent material on earth next to diamond. It'll stand up to dings every time your formerly-bare wrist forgets what it's like to wear a watch.

Watch Sport

Apple Watch design and colors

Sport is the the lightest of the three Apple Watch choices thanks to its anodized aluminum case that still manages to be 60% stronger than standard alloys.

It skips out of the expensive sapphire glass in favor of what Apple calls strengthened Ion-X or aluminosilicate glass. This further reduces the weight, making it fit for active lifestyles.

Sure, the iPhone-matching matte space gray and silver aluminum case appears less shiny vs the regular Watch, but Apple's 7000 Series aluminum and Ion-X glass makes it 30% lighter.

It's also the least expensive Apple Watch version at $349 (£299) for the 38mm size and 42mm for the $399 (£339) size.

Watch Edition

Apple Watch design and colors

Watch Edition will be the most expensive Apple Watch at $10,000 (£8,000) because of its 18-karat gold case. It may even be locked inside a safe within your local Apple Store.

It's been crafted by Apple's metallurgists to be twice as hard as standard gold, says the Cupertino company, and will come in two colors: yellow gold and rose gold.

Complementing those cases are color-matching bands made of leather or fluoroelastomer plastic.

Bands are the next step in deciding on the right Apple Watch.

Six different band styles, 18 colors

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch is all about personalization with six band types and 18 colors, all of which are easily interchangeable thanks a unique slide-out locking mechanism.

Yes, it's a proprietary watch strap - did you expect anything less? - but it looks to be a whole lot easier to switch out compared to the irksome hidden pins of the Moto 360.

I'm okay with that. I want the sport band at the gym and the Milanese loop for a night on the town without the hassle of digging into the watch case with a pair of tweezers.

Link bracelet

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch choices

Available with the regular Watch, the link bracelet is one of two stainless steel Apple Watch bands. This one matches the 316L stainless steel alloy of the case.

It has more than 100 components and the brushed metal links increase in width closer to the case. A custom butterfly closure folds neatly within the bracelet.

Best of all, you can add and remove links with a simple release button. No jeweler visits or special tools required for this stainless steel or space black-colored strap.

Milanese loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch bands

One of the classiest-looking Apple Watch bands is the Milanese loop, a stainless steel mesh strap that loops from case to clasp.

Emphasizing that woven metal design, there's hardly a clasp. Its tiny magnetic end makes the strap infinitely adjustable and tucks behind the band for a seamless look on one's wrist.

An out-of-the box option with the regular Watch, the Milanese loop is truly one of a kind in that it only comes in a stainless steel color.

Modern buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch leather

A modern buckle adorns the bottom the first of three leather options among Apple Watches, complete with top-grain leather sourced from France.

The French tannery is said to have been established in 1803, but Apple puts a tech-savvy twist on the buckle. It's a two-piece magnetic clasp that only looks ordinary when together.

This leather option comes in black, soft pink, brown or midnight blue for the regular Watch and bright black, red or rose gray for the premium Watch Edition, all meant for the smaller 38mm watch size.

Classic buckle (leather strap)

Apple Watch design and colors

Apple Watch models

If the Apple Watch modern buckle is a normal-looking watch band with a magnetic twist, then the classic buckle is an ordinary-looking variant without one.

No tricks here. It's just a traditional and secure band that feeds through a stainless steel or an 18-karat gold loop and matches the watch case.

The classic buckle's leather is from the Netherlands and the color choices are as simple as can be: it comes in black for the regular Watch or either black or midnight blue for Watch Edition.

Leather loop

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch design

This is the leather-equivalent of the all-metal Milanese loop because it tucks magnets into the soft, quilted leather Apple Watch band.

The more pronounced pebbled texture also stands out from the subtle finishes of the modern and classic buckle. Apple says its Venezia leather sources from Italy.

Apple Watch buyers who go with the leather loop band have four colors choices: black, stone, light brown and bright blue.

Sport band

Apple Watch bands

Apple Watch sport band

Despite its name, the sport band is an out-of-the-box option among all three "collections," not just the Apple Watch Sport.

The band is made of smooth fluoroelastomer, so it's resilient for all activities and fastens with a simple pin-and-tuck closure. Hopefully it's easier to buckle than the Fitbit Charge.

The sport band is available in the most colors on the Sport Watch: white, black, blue, green or pink. Regular Watch and Watch Edition buyers can choose between black or white.

Apple Watch sizes

Apple Watch sizes

Less exciting, but equally important is the choice of among Apple Watch sizes. There are two case heights: 38mm and 42mm.

This opens it up to smaller and larger wrists. The 38mm size is more compact, but having that little bit extra screen space by way of the 42mm option may go a long way.

It should be noted that a few bands appear to be exclusive to certain sizes: the modern buckle is limited to the 38mm option and leather loop the 42mm size, for example.

No right-handed and left-handed Apple Watch decisions need to be made at the Apple Store, thankfully. This smartwatch is ambidextrous because the screen can be flipped.

Apple Watch faces

Apple Watch analog watches

There are nine different default faces from Apple, according to its official website, and likely a lot more to come from third-party developers currently testing out WatchKit.

The great thing about smartwatch faces is that none of them are permanent, something we were fond of when testing out Android Wear smartwatches.

Mickey Mouse is my favorite because I never got a Mickey Mouse watch as a kid. But maybe that'll be reserved for Disneyland visits now that I'm an adult.

Analog watches like Chronograph, Color, Simple and Utility can be swapped in for a more professional look that rivals today's best smartwatch alternatives.

Customizable watch faces

Apple Watch designs

Digital watch faces all have something unique to offer. Motion adds a bit of animal-inspired movement in the background, solar lets you follow the sun's path based on your location and the time of day and astronomy lets you explore space and a rotatable 3D Earth.

Modular, the grid-like ninth watch face, really defines what Apple means when it talks about complications. Most faces can be alerted to include pressing information like stock quotes, weather reports or your next calendar event, according to the company.

Apple Watch wrap-up

Apple Watch

With two sizes for most band designs, six band types, 18 band colors and three cases with two colors each, there's a lot of choice going into this smartwatch purchase.

Apple Watch is launching with a lot of personalization, echoing a time when the Cupertino firm introduced variety among its iMac G3 computers and iPod successors.

Which case and band combination I get has ultimately been determined by the price and availability. For such a new product that's bound to be outdated in a few months to years, I'm leaning toward the cheaper Sport Edition when the Apple Watch release date rolls around.








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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.








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