A New BlackBerry Smartphone Is Coming
Blackberry, the long struggling Canadian company which, in what feels like light years ago now, was the pioneering leader of smartphone markers, is hoping to make comeback with the release of its new smartphone called the Passport.
The phone will be introduced on Wednesday, and according to BlackBerry CEO John Chen, will retail for $599 without a contract, The Wall Street Journal reported. That sounds like a lot of money, but the sticker price is actually cheaper than both of Apple's new phones without contract (the iPhone 6 costs $649 while the iPhone 6 Plus rings in at $749) and Samsung's Galaxy S5, which sells for around $650, depending on the carrier.
The phone is big, with a 4.5-inch square screen. It also includes BlackBerry's most distinctive feature -- a built-in keyboard with physical buttons -- although this new iteration is touch sensitive and can be used to scroll through content displayed on the above screen.
Chen made it clear that the phone is meant to target business users, noting that the larger screen would enable increased productivity, in part by displaying 60 characters on each line – 50 percent more than what's displayed on the typical device, the Journal reported. Additionally, in a blog post, Blackberry made the case that the phone's square screen is the ideal design for professionals because it makes documents, spreadsheets and X-rays easier to read. "The Passport is like the IMAX of productivity, and you don't have to sacrifice screen real estate, vertically or horizontally," the post boasts.
With the Passport, BlackBerry is doubling down on security and productivity, while leaving consumer features on the table. According to the Inquisitr, because the company uses its own OS instead of the more popular Android L, popular apps such as Vine and Instagram won't be available on the new phone. In their place are a slew of security and privacy features. (There's a reason BlackBerry has long been a top smartphone of choice for high-ranking executives and government officials the world over, the most prominent being President Barack Obama).
"The reason why our focus is so enterprise is because what we know how to do is security and productivity" Chen told the Journal. "Security, cybersecurity, personal identity protection. This is going to be a big deal."
Analysts, however, are skeptical that the new phone will be able to reverse faltering sales and a slumping global market share for the once dominant company. The Passport is a "good phone, but it will never really hit the mainstream as a premium offering," Daniel Pang, a researcher with IDC Malaysia, told the outlet. "Most consumers are too invested in other platforms" such as Android or iOS."
Tell Us: Would you consider buying the Passport for business use? Or does the BlackBerry slogan 'it's hip to be square' ring patently false?