Can BlackBerry bring Qwerty back?

  • TECH
  • Friday, 26 Sep 2014

(l-r) BlackBerry managing director for IndoChina Ben Quirin, Celcom Axiata head of device marketing and product development Noora Mat Rifon and BlackBerry product manager Koay Seng Tian at the launch of the BlackBerry Passport.

BLACKBERRY is going back to its roots with its latest smartphone, the Passport, a large screen smartphone with a physical Qwerty keyboard.

Inspired by the shape of an actual passport, Blackberry's new offering has a stainless steel frame and matte plastic body.

It sports a unique 4.5in square-shaped IPS display with a 1,440 x 1,440-pixel resolution and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for added strength and scratch resistance.

BlackBerry says the wider screen is ideal for business executives who often work with spreadsheets as it allows them to see more rows on the screen. This will allow them to edit their work while on the go.

What makes the Passport unique is the physical keypad, a throwback to BlackBerry's previous generation of smartphones.

BlackBerry has added a couple of new features to the keypad, including a touch surface that acts like a trackpad for scrolling through webpages by sliding your thumb across the keys.

The Passport runs on the new BlackBerry 10.3 operating system that offers new features like BlackBerry Assistant, which can accept commands both via text or voice, allowing you to access your work and personal e-mail messages, calendar and other native BlackBerry 10 apps.

The new version of the BlackBerry operating system also introduces Blend, a feature that allows users to remotely access their smartphones from a computer or tablet via WiFi or a cellular network without needing to setup a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and signing in with their BlackBerry ID.

So even if you accidentally left your phone at home, you can access all your contacts, work e-mail messages, calendar and corporate intranet by logging onto the Blend across a variety of operating systems including Windows 7+, Mac OS X 10.7+, Android 4.4+ and iOS 7+.

Blend also works with a wired USB connection.

The Passport also has access to the BlackBerry World app store and the Amazon App Store, with the former catering to productivity and business apps and the latter to consumer apps.

The Passport is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and has 3GB RAM and 32GB of Flash memory. Users can expand the smartphone’s storage capacity by using microSD cards of up to 128GB.

It has a 13-megapixel rear camera that is capable of shooting both stills and full HD videos at 60fps (frames per second) and a front-facing 2-megapixel camera.

BlackBerry has included an integrated 3,450mAh battery that it claims offers up to 30 hours of mixed use.

The Passport will be exclusively available through Celcom from Oct 10 to 31 while other carriers will start selling the Passport from Nov 1 onwards. The Passport costs RM2,399.

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