This is what Netflix looks like on BlackBerry's new 'Passport' smartphone.

This is what Netflix looks like on BlackBerry's new 'Passport' smartphone.

First Look: BlackBerry’s new Passport smartphone made with business in mind

The company has lost its once-dominant market share to the iPhone and Android, but returns with this large, bright re-entry.



BlackBerry released its new ‘Passport’ smartphone on Wednesday, a square-screened competitor to challenge the market-cornering products from Apple, Samsung, NTC, and others.

The company held its “boarding pass” event in three cities – a Toronto, Dubai, and London – today. (Another smartphone – the BlackBerry Classic – is set to be released later this year, and that phone could be previewed at Wednesday’s rollout.)

“The growth rate may not be as high in this particular market, because of the saturation, versus for example India or China,” said BlackBerry’s CEO John S. Chen on Wednesday in Toronto. “This is where serious computing originate (sic). And, it is important for us to have a reasonable stronghold in this particular market.

“I intend to start capturing that back, and it will take time. But the best place to start is at the home team’s place. This is why everything is focused on winning Canada.”

Chen said Canadians still have an “emotional” connection to BlackBerry – “it certainly holds a very dear place in their heart,” he said of the company, headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario.

The Passport keeps BlackBerry’s keyboard but also has a touch screen, which can be used for typing special characters and shortcuts. The screen is large and flat, meant to mirror the shape of its government-issued namesake.

It is reviewed in the video above by The Canadian Press’s Michael Oliveira.

“Really looks shockingly different than what you’re used to,” says Oliveira. “It’s called the Passport because it’s actually almost exactly the size of a passport.

“BlackBerry’s basically trying to go after the business community. They’re going after, not the consumers, they’re really quick to tell you… What they say is that, with this wide screen, you basically get 60 characters across, which is kind of like the Holy Grail of what the publishing industry looks for.”

Oliveira says the device’s screen size allows for better reading of documents like PDFs, and he liked the theory behind the Passport’s keyboard – which only has three rows of buttons now.

Numbers and punctuations can be typed using the touch screen add-on.

“I was still kind of stumbling over trying to get my text out without mistakes,” says Oliveira, who had some trouble getting used to the new half-keyboard, half-touch typing. “I found that even though the keyboard was bigger, it wasn’t necessarily easier to use. It might be the kind of thing that maybe after two weeks it would feel a lot more natural.”

Video/Files: The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Various Victoria locations were hit with a slew of anti-bylaw graffiti Wednesday. This image has been altered to cover up profane language. (Submitted photo)
UPDATED: Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti an ‘unacceptable’ form of communication says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

The Gordon Head Recreation Centre stands in as the Quimper Regional Hospital on Feb. 23 for filming Maid, a 10-part Netflix series. (Greg Sutton/District of Saanich)
Netflix transforms Saanich recreation centre into hospital for filming

Facility was closed to public Feb. 23 for filming of Maid

Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fighting fire a family affair for Colwood Assistant Chief Greg Chow

With 38 years of service, Greg Chow is the 2021 Hero of the Year

This rendering shows plans for the new “flyover”overpass connecting northbound traffic on Highway 17 heading west on Keating Cross Road. Plans currently seeking public input propose two options for the median along Keating Cross Road. Option 1 will prevent left turns onto Tamany Drive and Buena Vista Road. Option 2 (seen here)will allow for left turns onto Tamany Drive and Bujena Vista Road. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Public asked for comment on proposed overpass for Pat Bay in Central Saanich

New flyover overpass proposed for Highway 17 and Keating Cross Road

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read