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Just over 30 days ago, I set my Android powered BlackBerry Priv aside and picked up my BlackBerry Passport. I felt at the time that my Passport had a lot of life left in it. I didn’t like how Priv had somehow prematurely separated me from the wide aspect 1:1 Passport. I was on Android for about 6 months and at a certain point, the move to Passport just happened.

I’ve been back on BlackBerry 10 longer than I thought I would be. I admittedly use three Android applications on my BB10: Instagram, Spotify and recently SoundCloud, but otherwise BlackBerry 10 native all the way. BlackBerry 10 builds a lot of muscle memory over time, and I’ve been a day one user. It’s interesting to pick up a BB10 device – within a few seconds, you’re swiping away. It feels like remembering lyrics to a song you used to love. When you make it over the BlackBerry 10 learning curve, it becomes an intuitive and fluid mobile experience. The experience keeps productivity and effortless communication at the core of how it operates.

As I witnessed on Priv, each web query opened up my data in ways I didn’t appreciate. The more I searched for terms, the more ads related to my searches I’d see. As a matter of principle, it’s disheartening to see Google use data mined from users so flagrantly. Putting it right back in my face doesn’t make me more inclined to purchase. If anything, it makes me want to disconnect for a moment and ask whether my smartphone is too smart for its own good.

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On Passport, you get to see the big picture. Not only in the wide 1:1 ratio of the screen, but in the transparency of the controls offered directly on the platform. On Priv, app permission and control are still rolling out, whereas on BlackBerry 10, those features were baked in three years ago. BlackBerry launches a separate instance of Private Browsing on BB10 whereas on Chrome, the instances are contained within the app.

Priv offers DTEK for device monitoring but BlackBerry 10 is so unified, DTEK functionality is built into the core of the system. Things like APK scanning, BlackBerry Safeguard, BlackBerry Protect, control over individual application permissions and device boot integrity are not additives to the experience like they are on PRIV; they are the foundation of how and why BB10 was built.

Here are the four things that I like about my BB10 powered Passport over my Android Priv by BlackBerry

THREE ROW KEYBOARD

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The Passport keyboard is a revolutionary input style that takes the modern 4 row keyboard and flips it on its face. Priv has a standard 4 row keyboard with each key cluttered with a dual function and, while efficient, it muddles up the aesthetic of the device. On Passport, there are 3 rows of physical keys with nothing but the letter on them. There’s a virtual 4th row, which, through swipe gestures on the touch-enabled keyboard, offers symbols, a shift key and more. This 4th virtual row is also adaptive. It will change with the context of where you’re typing. The keys themselves are large to fit the wide profile and on all of the Passports I’ve used, typing has just felt right. Bigger keys means better travel and ultimately less mistakes. At first, the 4th row was jarring and I felt it slowed me down coming from the Classic, but over time, I came to realize just how special this keyboard implementation is. It’s one of a kind, and my favorite BlackBerry typing experience.

WIDE SCREEN, SQUARE SCREEN

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Passport has a square screen, which in and of itself is a bit polarizing. What makes this even more so is the fact that it’s a 4.5″ square making it almost in tablet territory. It’s a curiously mobile device that feels like a computer in your hand. The screen contributes to this. In marketing, the Passport was set to open you up to the Work Wide phenomena. I could go on and on about how I love to ‘Work Wide’ but there’s more to it than a marketing gimmick. BB10 makes use of this extra space to maximize your viewing angles in documents, emails, webpages, etc, which makes creating or consuming content extremely enjoyable on this device. It allows you to see much more information and ultimately increases my productivity, while giving more natural viewing angles. On all touch slabs, content is cramped and you have to scroll vertically to see more and more which can be tedious. Passport opens you up to a wider world.

A TRUE BLACKBERRY HUB:

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The Hub on BlackBerry 10 is built into the operating system as a gesture accessible portal to unified communications. This means that accounts in HUB such as Facebook, Twitter, SMS, BBM, email and phone calls are all aggregated in this tool. Because Hub is always open, it makes multitasking a breeze. Attaching documents after downloading them in the browser is a seamless and intuitive experience. On BlackBerry 10, you almost always have 2 applications open. Launching social feeds from the Hub does so without having to fully launch the specific application. So I can post Tweets, or reply to BBM messages without launching the respective app – something on Android which BlackBerry is still working with partners to refine. Hub on BB10 has pinch gesture, Hub attachment and other triage options that make it the best unified communication service out there.

OUT OF THE BOX EXPERIENCE:

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Okay, BlackBerry 10 doesn’t have every application known to man. But what it does have is the best out of box experience of any handset I’ve ever used. That paired with the specs of the Passport, it’s the strongest out of the box experience BlackBerry 10 has to offer. What I mean is that the vast majority of things you need to do on a smartphone are baked into the core of the device. Story Maker allows for mobile video editing. Docs to Go offers file editing for PowerPoint, Excel and Word. The native file-manager offers cloud integration with Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, Flash storage and more. This integration throughout the operating system is unparalleled and I still find myself picking up a BB10 just to accomplish a simple task very quickly. For instance, I wanted to rotate a video that was shot vertically to a horizontal position. I downloaded numerous apps on Android trying to accomplish this, yet no free ones could. I had to pay $2 for Solid Explorer to get a robust File Manager on my Android. Beyond this, there are small refinements like Bedside mode, keyboard gestures and more that make BB10 truly remarkable. The fact that it comes preloaded with two application storefronts, Amazon and BlackBerry World, also fleshes out the experience out of the box and makes it flexible to meet most people’s needs.

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James Nieves

Author James Nieves

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

More posts by James Nieves
  • James, I neglected to thank you. That was an awesome post!

  • I had the BOLD way back. I had several Samsungs prior to purchasing the original PP by pre order. Then Priv was announced. I thought it would be best of both worlds. Again I had it on day 1. The hardware really did not feel solid like PP. I kept handling my old PP while lamenting that I needed Android and thus Priv. Last week Priv took a swim. Loaded up the PP. Wow! What a difference the second time around. I fully appreciate 10 and the PP. Not returning to Android. In fact, if it appears that the bb10 handsets are about to go away, I may purchase a spare!

  • Lola

    I want buy a PP this week. I don’t like apps and it’s just for SMS and e-mail. Purhaps Twitter and Instagram.

    Black or Silver dition?

  • Argoub mourad

    Hi David, go ahead for the second hand ‘s passport silver édition, which is in my opinion the best smartphone ever made in the market because it’s something unique !!!

    The os10 when well used and compared to to Andy Rubin ‘s system Android ! The marshmallow is simply garbage !!

    Stay with the os10, you will never regret !!!
    Good luck !!!

  • David

    Having just pre-ordered the Neon, I find myself wondering if I will return to my Z30. I even say a 2nd hand Passport SE on an auction site that looked very tempting. BB10 is awesome, but I must have WhatsApp…

  • andrew

    hmm, ain’t Nieves the one who, on the last Upstream, opened with a joke about whether anyone could go back to BB10 from Android..?

  • Graecus

    I totally see what you’re saying. I own three phones, one is still a BlackBerry. I keep coming back to it because it is intuitive and works seamlessly. Nowadays, I just use my Z30 as a portable mini computer. I am even writing a book on it. That’s how much I trust the blackberry keyboard be it virtual or physical. But no matter how much the company says that they’re committed to BBoS, I fear that eventually there won’t be any. And that’s what’s stopping me from forking out and buying the Passport.

  • Todd

    Great article! Agree 100%

  • Jack Carr

    I left Verizon and went to AT&T to get the Passport and am very satisfied with this device. It’s the best smartphone I’ve ever had. I left iPhone to get a Q10 years ago and haven’t looked back. Got tired of double pumping the big button on the bottom real fast. As for Android…I’ve played around with other people’s Android phones and have found the experience a bit disjointed. If BB10 goes defunct it will be a sad day for me. Hopefully BlackBerry will have the Hub app working smoothly on their flavor of Android by the time that happens. Still hoping for a Passport II running BB10.

    Well written article!

    Peace be to you.

  • Argoub mourad

    Thanks Rashid for your comments, my daily driver is the passport since two year, and I am using the blackberry os since 2003 the year of my first smartphone the 7230 a stunning email machine at that time !!

    Now blackberry company is not competitive in the hardware market where the Chinese with their smartphones made of plastic sold 40% less the blackberry ‘s. Leads the market and push most of the old leaders to bankruptcy, and the next victims would be sony mobile division !!!

    I think that the only way to keep the blackberry os alive is to sell the company to one of the Chinese ‘s big bucks and the result : a cheap blackberry smartphones made of plastic ! Far from the beautiful crafted passport and classic !!

    Wait and see !!!!

  • Farzeen Rashid

    Thanks a lot James. This was much needed. I love blackberry 10 and the passport combo. And, that’s the reason why I’ve been sceptical about moving away from BB10 to android. I just hope blackberry continues to develop BB10 for people like us who prefer gold standards in security. Hope to see more of such eye opening posts for the general public who think blackberry10 is all dead! To be frank, I just hate to see all the major tech review sites (Pcadvisor, inquirer, verge..etc) and loyal blackberry blogging sites ( N4BB and other so called loyalists) speak shit about blackberry10. I just love my passport and I have no plans to move onto anything android for now, because that’s a step backwards. I am still one of those 0.1 % that prefers productivity, efficiency and security of BlackBerry 10! #ProudBB10_user #passport_it_is

  • Argoub mourad

    Some rumors about the next year ‘s blackberry smartphone with a physical keyboard, it’s might be a passport 2 running Android !!!

    Wait and see !!!!!

  • Lee Blanchard

    James, thanks for the thoughts! When I see BlackBerry put out other phones like the Priv and DTECK 50, I think that I might be interested. We are at Sauble Beach on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario catching some rays and enjoying the sand between our toes. We have Android phones and IPhones here on the beach, but what is the only one still running – my Passport! All family members borrowing it comment what a great phone! Wish i’d bought one!

    • Enjoy the beach time! Passport still a looker after all this time :)

  • Argoub mourad

    I challenge myself using the blackberry smartphones since the year 2003, I owed the 7230 model an email machine until today with the amazing pasport the best ever on the market. The os10 is ahead of all ios, tizen, bada, windows 10, android….
    The team of waterloo need an agressif marketing and commercial stuff !!!
    To save the hardware division from bankruptcy !!!!!
    BlackBerry deserve better future and a place in the top three with the leaders of smartphones manufacturer !!!!

    The DTEK50 and the new smartphones coming soon will determine where blackberry is bound !!!

  • Just got passport silver version it’s fantastic, your article help me a lot to decide to get passport have z30 which has been very good am running Android apps as well through the combat akp apps for Google acc, Google id for BlackBerry and then Google play apk for BlackBerry 10 just downloaded to phone and install worked better for me than side loading, from pc, but it’s a state of art device the passport and believe the square screen is the future let’s see who gonna copy it apple I iPhone 8? Be square I’ve heard few things along those lines but not sure that’s solid just rumors,br good if BlackBerry do a pp2 but suppose the silver version is really passport 2 in a way

  • Toneytone

    I can’t wait to experience the passport finally. I haven’t used a BB10 device since I gave up a Z30 for a LG G3. That was my first experience with android and my second android device now being the Priv I’m done with android. Giving up my priv for a SE this Christmas. The bb10 hub and getting emails fast is what I miss the most from bb10. I can’t wait to finally use a passport.

  • Chance

    I think that I am going to add this page as a bookmark for next time when one of my friends tells me to switch. You explain perfectly why I have yet to leave a true BlackBerry device! Especially with your fresh perspective on Android, even BlackBerry’s android, compared to BB10.

    • JBravo

      You my friend, are in for a a real treat with the BlackBerry Passport. Enjoy!

  • Bryan

    I agree BB 10 is the best. And it appears that the executives at Blackberry might be getting the hint. As far as this app gap. Who ever Cobalt is solved it by creating a way to add the actual Google Play Store without side loading. I have it on my Passport and it works very well. If apps are the big issue for Blackberry producing an Android phone, it seems to me Cobalt solved that problem.

    • JBravo

      Ooops, my apologies. I have replied to the wrong comment.

  • Kevin Collazo

    This was the perfect time to post this type of perspective. BlackBerry10, and even BBOS devices, provide features and an OS that catered toward more than just apps- It was the overall user experience that make BB10 the best operating system I’ve ever used. BlackBerry can NOT lose sight of that.

  • Jonas

    I made the same journey 8 months ago on iOS, but it last only two months. Passport is the perfect comrade on my journeys here in Sweden – though the “appgap” is far more distinct than if you live in North America. But who cares?

    Maybe that Spotify sucks on my Passport, but that is the only “gap” in my little world.

    Thumbs up James!

  • Brian

    I can agree to this also ios have the same problems need 1million apps to do 1 thing. Have the classic and the leap but thanks now I’m gonna go with the passport because of the typeing

  • Trần

    Tuyệt vời, tôi cũng đang sử dụng Passport và cảm thấy rất hài lòng với nó

  • Kevin Collazo

    I couldn’t agree more.

  • George Gill

    You are absolutely spot on about the BlackBerry Passport is the best smartphone experience. I wrote this about my experience with the phone, meetgeorge.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/why-i-love-my-blackberry-passport/ by undefined

  • Mike

    Counterproductive….

    It is one thing coming from the crackpots, it is another coming from the lead of a major BlackBerry website.

    Think about the big picture… essentially if Android doesn’t work for BlackBerry then there won’t be any BlackBerry devices.

    There were people who swore by BBOS after BB10 just came out….but BB10 got better.

    Skate where the puck is going, not where it has been.

    • Thanks for taking a shit in my personal preference

    • Mike

      My apologies if you were offended, that was not my intent.

      James, you have done a lot for the community and BerryFlow weekly podcasts are an institution. Thank you for all the work you do!

      I understand your comment about personal preference…it is tricky though….when stated on a website like BerryFlow…it is acts more of an endorsement.

      At the very least, the timing of such a post is very poor. Just a couple days after BlackBerry has announced another step forward…via DTek50, which by many accounts is a really good step forward…it seems like such a post is a step backwards.

      Again, I didn’t not mean any offence by the last comment or this one, just sharing my perspective.

      Thanks again.

    • Haha! Just messing Mike, I endorse what works for people, we each have different needs. I find the timing particularly on point. As BlackBerry launches their second Android device people become more skeptical of BlackBerry 10, this article is a reminder that BB10 and specifically the Passport have many redeeming qualities. That being said DTEK50 may have launched recently, but it won’t be available until August 8th, meaning this article will float into oblivion and be overshadowed by our DTEK50 coverage in the weeks to come.

      If I was a true marketing arm of BlackBerry this article would be counter productive to the new path they are carving. With BerryFlow we are all about secure mobility, and BlackBerry 10 may be the quintessential offering toward that end, and I’ll admit, I’m not ready to let go. Look forward to our review of 10.3.3 on a Passport Silver Edition :D