Our friends over at AT&T have sent us the BlackBerry Passport for us to review. In the United States, this large BlackBerry is exclusive to AT&T and they have some customizations made to their variant. While BlackBerry is still producing devices, Android and iOS have taken the world by storm, and from just a quick look the Passport does not look like a regular shaped device. Keep reading to see our full thoughts on the BlackBerry Passport for AT&T.
AT&T’s design changes are for the better, the original Passport had sharp edges that didn’t give it the best feel in the hand. Granted with a device this size and with the unique wide ratio, it is a two hand operation to use it. Gone are the sharp edges, instead you get a more rounded device, not curved like the LG G Flex, instead it looks similar to Android devices and iPhone with the sublet curve at the corners of the device. Separating each line of the keyboard you will find a nice silver aluminum line, and that same coloring scheme goes around the device. The power button still resides on the top of the device, while the volume rocker and preset button can be found on the right hand side. Meanwhile your micro USB charging port is found on the bottom, an ideal place, even when the device is this large. But overall, BlackBerry and AT&T have done a good job of making it feel like a BlackBerry device, it is just larger and gives more room for experiences.
BlackBerry has been working hard on software, one big change was the addition of the Amazon App Store. With this change it allowed customers on their OS 10 devices to get a larger source of applications. And in the future, if recent rumors are right, BlackBerry might be releasing an Android device. For now, the Passport is show casing BlackBerry OS 10 and has several features that are meant for business.
For instance, with a display this wide, it makes it easy to use BlackBerry Hub, as with a simple swipe to the right from the left side of the screen, you can access all incoming messages, emails, BBM’s, and more. It makes it easy to use this as your hub for work, and can help to knock down on your email inbox number. With BlackBerry Blend it lets you move this experience over to a tablet or even to your computer. It does this wirelessly, no need to plug your devices in too one another or even to sync it to a cloud storage service.
Along with the Amazon App Store, which gives you access to thousands of Android applications, you get access to BlackBerry World. Like most app stores, it is growing and is slowly but steadily getting access to new applications.
While you don’t get Google Now or Siri, you do get BlackBerry Assistant which will let you respond to messages, mange your calendar, and get more done with your voice. With my experience, it takes a few tries for it to get to know your voice but, after that it works pretty well. I have a feeling the Assistant will get smarter as time goes on, so hopefully stay tuned for more features.
Both the unlocked or global version of the Passport, and the AT&T variant of the device are quite similar, almost in every aspect except for the design. For starters, if your on AT&T you get access to their 4G LTE network, which will give you some nice fast speeds. A plus, about being on AT&T would have to be the 4G HSPA+ backend, which means if 4G LTE goes down or if it not yet launched in your area, you won’t drop to 3G, but you will drop to an HSPA+ network. AT&T’s HSPA+ network has a very large backend which has been built up quite extensively.
For some more speed, the Passport is powered by a 2.2Ghz quad core Snapdragon 801 processor with around 3GB of RAM. Plus, you can expect all day battery life thanks to the large 3450mAh battery inside. For selfies or for video chatting on the go, you get a 2 megapixel lens on the front and on the back you will find a 13 megapixel camera.
The wide display on the Passport is in fact a 4.5-inch 1440 X 1440 display with 453 pixels per inch. While it takes some time to get used too, it does look pretty great and doesn’t hurt your eyes too much. This is important, if you will be doing emails and work related tasks on it throughout the day.
The BlackBerry Passport for AT&T is one of the most unique devices I have seen in a while. And while it serves it place in the market, for those looking for all day battery life and for a wide-screen to get tasks done on, you might be happier with another BlackBerry device or even a different make smartphone on AT&T. With that being said, the Passport does not hurt the pocket too much, it comes in at $99.99 with a 2-year contract. Off contract it hurts the pocket a little more at $669.99 for full retail. You can also get it on AT&T Next for as low as $22.34 a month. Click here for more information on the AT&T BlackBerry Passport.