BlackBerry Passport: ‘The Hobbit’ Phone with Phablet Ambitions

Unlike the failed Scottish Independence vote, BlackBerry is actually going to be issuing a “Passport” of its own this year.

The yet-to-be released BB Passport aims to make your smartphone work for you by combining form and functionality unseen in current mobile devices. A decidedly unique 4.5 inch by 4.5 inch screen dominates the front of the phone. A built-in three row QWERTY keyboard with physical buttons and touch capabilities is here as well. According to GSM Arena, 4G LTE, expandable storage up to 64 GB and a massive 3GB of RAM round out the Passport’s high-end specs.

But if your going to make the leap back to BB, just remember one thing: Like Apple, this company has a design sensibility all their own. Because really you’ve never seen a Phablet quite like this. The largish screen and keyboard are smashed together. This fusion results in a nearly square profile that screams nerd and will scare pants pockets to death because of its thick waistline.

In keeping with BlackBerry’s batch of 2013 smartphones, the company decided to make the Passport available in two colors: white and black. Black edges dominate the device while a bit of white helps to distinguish individuals keys from one another (and the opposite on the white version). The sleek, silvery company logo sits atop either version of the phone.

But despite the livelier color palette than the all-black BlackBerry phones of yesteryear, the Passport is still a conservative device that lacks the customization options available on phones like the Moto X (Gen. 2). And if you want to channel the luxurious look of the iPhone 6 Plus, you’ll have to get a case.

The BB Passport also improves upon the build quality of past models like the BB Z10 and Q10. According to CNET, the edges of the Passport feel like metal, but the reviewer is quick to point out that he isn’t sure whether or not it actually is. And the Passport’s gorgeous display looks as good as it feels thanks to a super high 453 PPI and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection.

BlackBerry eschewed a more widely used OS like Android L in favor of their own upcoming BB 10.3 OS. This means that a large portion of popular applications like Vine and Instagram won’t be coming to the Passport. Productivity king Evernote is one notable exception. But the lack of apps could change if people actually buy the Passport and increase BlackBerry’s dwindling marketshare.

BlackBerry 10.3 also contains robust security and privacy features that help ensure that your texts, pictures and email messages are never ensnared by big data (or worse) Reddit/4Chan hackers hell-bent on leaking your nude photos. The 10.3 OS is also snappy and easy to use.

The Wall Street Journal just reported that the BlackBerry Passport will be available for purchase starting Wednesday, September 22nd. The Passport will be cost at least $599. Carrier information is unavailable at this time.

Do you think that the Passport has a lot going for it? Let us know in the comments section below.

[Photo courtesy of RIM Blogs]