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BlackBerry QWERTY Clash Passport vs Classic

By March 21, 2015Overview, Video
Classic_Passport_Sky

So you’re still a BlackBerry user, bravo! I applaud your resilience. That said, how best to determine which QWERTY weapon fits your arsenal? Are you Passport bred or Classically inspired? Hopefully this article makes your decision that much harder. I’ll be juxtaposing the devices within these categories – portability, camera, keyboard, appeal and design quality.

If you’re interested in purchasing a BlackBerry Passport or Classic in North America please reach out to receive a coupon code toward your purchase.

Let’s begin with the factors of form – which is to say, which of these clicky, carpal tunnel inducing handsets fits best in the hand? Portability and mobility go *cough* hand in hand. Having used both of these devices for a long period of time, the winner is understandably the BlackBerry Classic. Both have considerable heft due to the large integrated batteries within, but the Classic just feels marvelous to hold. Those with extra limber thumbs will find they can still fire away one-handed messages with the Classic, where with Passport this is possible… but very sketchy, especially if you’re on the move. Classic also has a dimpled back with great in-hand traction over the soft touch, ‘porcelain feel’ of the Passport.

We all like taking photos right? When we pit the shooters of the BlackBerry Passport and Classic against one another, the winner goes to the larger module. Passport sports a 13MP lens with Optical Image Stabilization, whereas the Classic sports the same standard 8MP module we saw on the Z10. This is not to say that the Classic is poor at taking photos, but Passport with 5 higher MP count really does mean better photo quality overall. Many factors add to this—Passport is a higher spec’d device and has more power within to process and crunch those photos. BB10 software supports photos at 16:9, 4:3 and 1:1. The Passport spits out 1:1 images at a ridiculous 3120×3120 pixels (huge 4.0mb shots). Here’s a shot from the Passport scaled down – hopefully it illustrates how much you can fit in-frame on this beast.

ClassicfromPassport_X

How ’bout them physical keyboards? Classic hosts the tried-and-true four row keyboard and, above, a five button tool belt which, really, I consider an extension of the overall keyboard and input experience. (We can argue that in the comments.) Anyway, the Classic has keys for alt, shift and symbols which gives the keyboard a duality beyond the basic letters. These static buttons make for better muscle memory between the keyboard layers, allowing for a more transparent user experience. For me, this makes the keyboard feel more integrated and seamless to use. There’s a very satisfying tactile feedback on the Classic, but the keys still feel light and bouncy. As JT from N4BB said in his Classic review, “It’s like typing on pillows.”

I agree with this – yet when compared to the Passport’s innovative touch-enabled keyboard, I find it hard to justify the legacy keyboard layout. Passport utilizes touch gestures to invoke a fourth digital row of keys that respond to the context for which the user is typing. This maximizes your screen real estate without hindering your ability to have flexible input options. The keys on Passport are bigger and, overall, the keyboard is a derivative design with as little obfuscating the layout as possible. The keys are a bit more rigid but they do break in over time. That being said, from a straightforward typing experience, I would say the Classic is the winner in the keyboard showdown. But, if you’re a user looking for a fun mix of on-screen and physical keys, then Passport is literally the ONLY option ever developed. That innovation cannot be overlooked.  You can flick-type on Passport and use the keyboard to scroll; these small additions level up the Passport experience. I’ll admit, however, that the Passport keyboard sometimes has me longing for a four-row, touch enabled keyboard. Classic 2?

I have to be honest. The Classic is not designed for a hip, young demographic. If anything, it’s positioned as a transitional device for mature users who have reliably held to their Bolds and Curves. That said, the Classic delivers a lot of the input experiences from old, with the power and performance of BlackBerry 10. Passport pushes innovation while Classic is an ardent throwback to what was. Neither is a bad thing due to limber software. To a contrarian view, the Passport has a larger screen, bigger keys, longer battery life – and “mature users” can get a lot from it as well. The Classic is really for those users who rely on the tool belt and have worked within that design paradigm for far too long to give it up. If you can’t get over the Passport’s size and portability, then you’ll still have a great option with Classic. From a productivity experience, the Classic and tool belt is the “Quintessential BlackBerry Experience.” I believe Passport may appeal to a broader consumer market than the Classic in terms of its unique and innovative design, whereas the Classic is not all that inspiring as it’s an upgraded experience of a model with which the market is already very well acquainted. While Classic appeals to those die-hard BlackBerry users out there, Passport speaks about a broader potential. In light of this, it has the same wide potential for user appeal.

Relative to design and build quality, both of these devices are absolutely solid. Classic feels very balanced. The curved edges, grippy back and three sides of brushed stainless steel for the frame add a great accent to the indomitable sense of nostalgia that is tapped into here. The bottom chin of the frame is actually a painted plastic, and you can only slightly tell the difference between the materials in regular use. The Classic has a professional heft which gives the device more matter and substance. The screen is crisp, the LCD bright and colorful.

Passport in contrast is the genuine article – best in class specifications and a meticulously crafted productivity machine. The full stainless steel chassis is one piece, so the device can maintain structure in strained conditions. The original Passport was inspired by the shape and form of the familiar pocketable symbol of mobility known around the world. As well, the design teams were inspired by the industrial architecture of the Mies van der Rohe-designed TD Centre towers in Toronto. The steel I-beams in modernist architecture are pulled to the outside of the device giving you a durable, delineated design methodology.

Linked Image from Toronto Buildings

BlackBerry Passport Chassis Exposed

With all that said, I wanna hear from you. Which factors do you weigh? Between these two devices, what led you to your final decision? Below you can check out our video overviews for both of these devices if you’re still on the fence.

BlackBerry Passport Review

BlackBerry Classic Review

James Nieves

Author James Nieves

Manning the helm here @BBRYFLOW. Feel free to shoot me an email.

More posts by James Nieves
  • ELLAS

    The Passport he a learning curve for sure, but we’ll worth it once you get the hang of it.
    Though ever since the Z30, not sure I can go back to a physical keyboard BBRY.

  • Tris1977

    A swedish word. Lagom. It means just enough. Not to much. Without excess. In moderation and balance…… just right. This is what I think of the classic. I upgraded from a Q10 to a passport but I found it too much in the hand. Great features that I seldom used. What I found out is, the classic is what I had wanted all along. It was just enough!

  • Eduardo Y Inoue

    I always wanted a BlackBerry ’cause it’s qwerty keyboard. I’m a Q5 user for a year and half and I just loved the physical keyboard – coming from ios. I’ll never use a full touchscreen again. One of the features that I miss is the trackpad. The Passport could be an alternative, but I’m afraid to got used the 4 line keyboard and miss a lot with that. Never tried Classic, but the specs could be better. But reading this article I’m still in doubt.

  • Ben

    I’m typing this in my Passport, so I made my decision. It’s hands down the best phone I’ve owned. It’s just great to have the advantages of both a physical keyboard and touch-enabled input. I use the capacitive keyboard for trackpad and autocorrect all the time. It’s awesome.

    I also use it one handed a lot. Not necessarily for long messages but certainly for browsing and quick replies. It’s been than expected as far as that goes.

    Anyway, the Passport is just awesome. It’s in a whole different league compared to the Classic or Q10.

  • Praetorian11

    Had been using Q10 for 2 years. Hod to go for Passport or Classic. After looking at the pros and cons (most of them in favour of Passport), one big reason and the only one which compelled me to buy the Classic was it’s convenience and one handed use. Plus it had a bigger screen than the Q10, so I was okay with that. Been using it for almost a month now and just loving it.

  • Techguru

    The Passport is a workhorse, it is a hybrid of BlackBerry original but Android device mixed into one. The stereo speakers is amazing, finally a great camera, best keyboard of it’s kind and the screen size is one of it’s best features, the Classic is a retro 9900 but powered by bb10

  • Hemant

    Waiting for the slider one..

  • Michael Hind

    I will choose the Passport. The specs are first class and I use my phone as a multitasking business device, not just for various communications. I will be sad to say goodbye to my z10. It has been an excellent phone, but the battery cannot keep up with my schedule.

  • Endgame

    I have been running the classic for 2 weeks now and yesterday I was in the AT

  • Christian

    Sorry for the double post.

  • Christian

    I currently own a Q10, and had a Passport for a month. Best phone I ever owned. I just couldn’t justify the cost of an unlocked phone with a perfect phone sitting idle.

    If I had to get a new device, the Classic would be it. 4 Row keyboard and one handed use are the features that win me. The toolbelt keeps touch screen use to a minimum, which is a huge selling point. For the brief time I used a demo Classic, the toolbelt and trackpad felt very intuitive, considering I’m well adjusted to BB10 software.

    It disappointed me that the Passport touch capacitive keyboard didn’t work as a traditional trackpad, letting us navigate menus and icons. It currently only allows scroll function and text swiping. Both phones can only get better with software enhancement and optimization, but to me the Classic has the more potential as a workhorse. The Passport is great for the display and reading documents, but in the end has a Phablet form factor that requires two handed use for any speed. The Classic’s form factor is more versatile for people on the move.

  • I seriously love my PassPort, but since I got the Classic for my wife I’m loving that too, but the Classic doesn’t compare in the following areas: battery life, speed, screen size and the buttons including touch functionality of the the PassPort keyboard.

    However the Classic is an excellent device and I really hope it sells and that all old BlackBerry fans get one as their productivity device as it’s really is a work horse if you consider the PassPort to big/heavy.

    As for the leap mention a previous comment, well I think is was a need to do device, the Z10 is aging, Z30 an apparent disappointment (not to me, still mine) but they could increased the specs a bit more, but I guess the price would gone up, as Orange is selling it at the equivalent of $315 in South Africa, which isn’t cheap but not too expensive either.

  • Alex Marsh

    I want the Passport but I just can’t justify leaving the Z30 yet. Has anyone found a minimalist black bumper case for the passport? That would make my decision to buy one easier. Black bumpers compliment all of my BB10 devices so nicely.

    • Pravin

      In my opinion, The OEM BlackBerry Passport Hard Shell Case is the ideal case for my BlackBerry Passport. Go check it out :)

  • ELLAS

    Both devices are great and serve a purpose. Hopefully the slider device comes out soon, because many are looking for an upgrade, preferably a nine physical keyboard. I suppose the slider will cater to both clouds. And hopefully it’s uniquely innovated.
    BBRY needs hardware market share. BB10 is by far the best.

  • Sakazuki

    I am waiting for slider…. it will be a unique device just like passport.

  • Fernando

    …Would be a

  • Fernando

    I’m saving my money to get a Leap but if I had to choose a qwerty keyboard BlackBerry smartphone I would choose…the passport. It a very unique device with top notch specs. The Classic must be an awesome device but coming from a Z10 and its incredible full touch keyboard going back to the Classic would be a