BlackBerry has launched Passport
smartphone on Wednesday at events in Toronto, Dubai, and London
. The company had already revealed the price of the smartphone earlier this week, with BlackBerry CEO John Chen saying
it would be priced at $599 (Rs. 36,500 approximately) for the unlocked version in the US.
The company also announced
the BlackBerry Passport (unlocked) will be available through ShopBlackBerry.com for customers in Canada, France, Germany, the UK and the US immediately following the launch. It will be priced at CAD 699 (roughly Rs. 38,400) in Canada, EUR 649 (roughly Rs. 50,500) in France and Germany, and GBP 529 (roughly Rs. 54,700) in the UK.
It is also available from Wednesday on Canada's Telus, for CAD 200 (roughly Rs. 11,000) on a 2-year contract at an introductory rate until October 1, after which it will be available at CAD 250 (roughly Rs. 13,700). It will also land in the US on AT&T, on a $250 (roughly Rs. 15,200) 2-year contract.
BlackBerry also announced it would bring the Passport to more than 30 countries through its carrier and distributor partners before the end of the year, including India, Saudi Arabia and the other parts of the Middle East, Singapore, Austria, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia, Vietnam, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Mexico, Venezuela, Philippines, Russia Slovakia, Spain, Romania, and Colombia.
It's worth noting that BlackBerry is hosting an event on September 29 in India, where the company is likely to announce Passport smartphone for the country. John Chen at the Toronto event added that the BlackBerry Classic
smartphone would be launched before the end of the year.
The BlackBerry Passport is the first phone in the company's lineup to come with the new BlackBerry 10.3 OS onboard, which brings such features as BlackBerry Assistant
, and a brand new BlackBerry Hub with Instant Actions. With BlackBerry 10.3, users also get access to the Amazon Appstore for Android
and roughly 240,000 apps.
The Canadian smartphone manufacturer stressed on the difference between BlackBerry Assistant, Siri
and Google Now
(conspicuously not mentioning Cortana
), saying it has been specifically designed for work, and can access both work and personal information even with enterprise level security. The company says it has revamped the interface to better meet the needs of the mobile professional.
The biggest feature of the smartphone, apart from its 4.5-inch 1440x1440 pixel resolution IPS LCD display (translating to a pixel density of 453ppi), it the three-line hardware keyboard with capacitive touch sensitivity. This allows users to perform gestures, select auto-complete suggestions, and scroll across lists. Notably, depending on the type of page being viewed, additional lines of keyboard show up on on screen, such as auto-complete, or a legend to the numeric keyboard.
BlackBerry is also touting the superior call quality of the Passport, detailing a microphone built into the earpiece that detects ambient noise to deliver tone and volume-correct audio.
The BlackBerry Passport features a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor with Adreno 330 GPU; 3GB of RAM; 32GB of inbuilt storage that's expandable via microSD card (up to 128GB); a 13-megapixel rear OIS camera with a BSI sensor; a 2-megapixel front camera, and a 3450mAh battery that is said to deliver up to 30 hours of mixed-use battery life.
The BlackBerry Passport measures 128x90.1x9.3mm, and features a Nano-SIM card slot. Connectivity options include Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, Micro-USB + Micro-HDMI via SlimPort, USB OTG, NFC, GPS, DLNA, Glonass, GPRS/ EDGE, 3G, and 4G LTE.
BlackBerry also introduced BlackBerry Blend
, which recently appeared on BlackBerry World. It allows users to utilise their BlackBerry Passport (for now) on their computer and tablet, receiving IM notifications; reading and responding to work and personal email; exchanging BBM or text messages, and accessing documents, calendar, contacts and media.
BlackBerry Blend will work across desktop operating systems, including Mac OS X 10.7 or higher, Windows 7 or higher, as well as iPad tablets running iOS 7.0 or higher, and Android tablets running Android 4.4 or higher. It can pair to these devices via cellular, USB or Wi-Fi connections. The downloadable version of BlackBerry Blend for Macs and PCs is available from Wednesday here
, and on the App Store
, and Google Play