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“Why should I care?”
That’s the phrase I uttered to myself when I first unboxed BlackBerry’s latest smartphone, the Passport.
Why should I care about the device’s odd 4.5-inch square screen? Why should I care that the device is the same size and shape as its namesake? Why should I care that Amazon’s App Store is preinstalled on the Passport?
Okay, okay, forgive my skepticism. There’s a lot to love about the Passport. It’s the first product launch under BlackBerry CEO John Chen, who took over the struggling company last November. In an effort to turn it around,Chen said he wanted to return to the Canadian company’s roots by providing devices and services that appeal to large companies, a.k.a. the enterprise.
A travel document-shaped phone fit for business travel? Sure. Why not?
BlackBerry BBRY 1.80% positions its oddly shaped device—which certainly succeeds at drawing attention to the company—as the ultimate productivity tool for those who want to get work done. If the marketing sounds familiar, it is: In recent years, BlackBerry has let out a business-focused battle cry with every major product release. It’s as if the company is saying, “Please, forgive us for the pink BlackBerry Pearl Flip.” Or perhaps, “Here is a phone that won’t run Flappy Bird.”
In truth, the Passport’s screen lends itself to displaying more information without forcing you to rotate the device, as you will often do with a phone of more conventional proportions. I found the screen quality to be on par with, if not slightly better than, Apple’s iPhone and most high-end Android devices on the market.