BlackBerry had high hopes for its latest smartphone, which is a throwback to its QWERTY days of old. Reviewers like it, but don't love it.
- CNET: A powerful, cumbersome love letter to physical keyboard fans (Rating: 3.5/5)
- The Verge: Getting stuff done or getting in the way? (Rating: 6.2/10)
- Wall Street Journal: Back to Square One (no rating)
- Forbes: An Uncomfortable Vision Of A Modern Smartphone (no rating)
- Computerworld: Qwerty meets quirky (no rating)
I thought it appropriate to include a couple reviews from financial publications (i.e. WSJ, Forbes), since stockbrokers were long the prototypical BlackBerry users. One of the resounding conclusions on the Passport, fittingly, is -- for better or for worse -- this phone is from a previous era.
"The Passport has some neat tricks and longer battery life than the competition, but it's living in the past. It's not 2005 anymore," wrote the WSJ's Joanna Stern.
Forbes' Ewan Spence wrote: "The BlackBerry Passport does feel like a throwback to earlier handsets from BlackBerry (see Research In Motion) and an attempt to bring all of those ideas up to date. Unfortunately BlackBerry’s approach to updating the hardware for 2014 is to reimplement the ideas that were present on its older handsets, while other manufacturers have iterated those ideas through the years to create user interfaces that are far better placed for the needs of a modern smartphone."
Computerworld's Matt Hamblen: "I'm pretty sure tat anybody under age 35 is not going to care a whit about Passport's qwerty keyboard, including the ability to swipe with the physical keys. Getting all this questionable technology capability inside a heavy-to-the-feel smartphone doesn't seem like an effective way to grow BlackBerry or expand its future beyond its existing user base."
And that sort of captures it for me. I don't imagine many smartphone users will switch from their iPhones or Android phones to a Passport. Sure, BlackBerry has its loyalists, but they are, at last count 0.5% worldwide (Q2 2014, according to IDC).
As Hamblen alluded, BlackBerry's relevance depends on its ability to lure smartphone users away from their existing devices. According to the reviews I read, the Passport will not do that.