My BlackBerry Passport arrived – first impressions

Last week Amazon was able to deliver the BlackBerry Passport, so I ordered again and got it on Wednesday.

Since my iPhone 4S uses a micro SIM, I needed to order a nano SIM for the Passport, which I did on Thursday. But that also meant that I didn’t had a SIM for the Passport when I did it’s setup. That lead to one interesting problem, but more about that later.

Form factor

You know, the BlackBerry Passport ist very wide. I have to get used to this form factor, but on the other hand it has some big advantages:

  • No need to rotate the device since the display is a squarish.
  • Space for the keyboard with real keys.

Using the Passport as classic phone by holding it with one hand onto my ear feels weird, but I will do that very seldom anyway. I don’t make calls with a mobile phone frequently, and if so, I will use a headset or the car’s phone system.

Setup

Setting up my accounts was no problem. Some notes:

  • No need to look for an “Exchange” account in order to use with IBM Traveler. The BlackBerry Passport does support IBM Traveler as an account type of it’s own.
  • You can use iCloud contacts and calendar by setting up a CardDAV account using “contacts.icloud.com”. CalDAV should work similar.
  • Do not download the BlackBerry Desktop software. It’s for older BlackBerry only! Download BlackBerry Link instead. I tried BlackBerry Desktop first since I didn’t see any message that it does not support BB 10 devices, and then I didn’t understood why it was not able to work with my Passport…
  • Download BlackBerry Blend, too. See below.

Desktop Software

BlackBerry Link synchronizes music, photos, documents etc. to the device via wire (USB) or network (WLAN). It’s very simple to use and works without problems. If you want to synchronize playlists from iTunes, right click the playlist in BlackBerry Link and select “synchronize to device”. If you just drag and drop the playlist to the device only the songs will by copied to the device, not the playlist itself.

BlackBerry Blend is very innovative and impressive. It allows you to work with your BB 10 device from your desktop or tablet. That includes:

  • Read and write mail / using the BlackBerry Hub.
  • Read and write text messages (SMS).
  • Read and write BBM chat messages (if you have anyone who is using BBM 🙂 )
  • Working with the calendar and contacts.
  • Transferring files with drag & drop.

That’s cool from the desktop, but that’s even more useful from my iPad! For example, if I want to reply to a mail that I got via IBM Notes, but my Notes is busy or the virtual machine where Notes lives does not run I can write the mail from my desktop using the big screen and full size keyboard and send it via the BlackBerry.

Or if I want to copy some files to the BlackBerry, I can simply drag & drop them to the device using Blackberry Blend. No need for iTunes with it’s long synchronization process.

BlackBerry 10 software

I like the BlackBerry 10 software on the device, too. It looks good, if works fast and without problems. There are useful gestures (like for example one gesture to get to the BlackBerry Hub

BlackBerry Hub is the center for all mails and works great. It supports keyboard shortcuts and various very useful features in order to get your mail work done very fast.

The contacts app does synchronize my contacts from iCloud, but it does not show any contact. That bugged my a lot until I learned that the cause is that I did the setup without having a SIM installed. I doubt that this behaviour is intended. Most probably the problem will go away when I have my nano SIM.

Otherwise, the BlackBerry 10 system has a lot of apps and connectivity out of the box, for example to Evernote, Dropbox etc.

Apps

So far I found few useful native BlackBerry 10 apps. Most apps I installed are Android apps that I got from the build in Amazon Appstore. You can install an app via an Android APK file, too.

But why searching for Apps that replace the iOS apps I used I found one thing: very, very many Android apps are just trash.

For example I looked for a simple stock market App where I can watch some stocks. I tried five Android apps, and they were all just advertising platforms with limited functionality, force me to register somewhere in order to monitor my stock market behaviour, or both.

I guess the problem is that I want to pay for an app. The average Android user seems to expect that an app is free, and therefore developers are forced to use bugging ads in order to make some money.

So I learned that when an app is free, I can skip it in the first place. Overall, I feel the general quality of iOS apps is much, much better. So far being forced to use Android apps feels like a huge step backward.

Android App Security makes me feel uncomfortable

One thing that concerns me very much is the Android security system (or the lack of) and how many rights apps are asking for. For example, while I tried stock marked apps, most apps asked me for rights like reading contacts, location, messages etc. For a stock marked app?!? Not very trustworthily, is it?

Furthermore, you cannot give or lock specific rights per app, you can only grant all the rights an app asks for or you cannot use the app at all.

I really wonder why Google thinks that this total lack of security is a good thing. I makes me feel very, very uncomfortable.

Working fast with the keyboard

The hardware keyboard is one very strong argument for the Passport. After one day I was faster writing mails or other texts that with the iPhone after years!

Three lines of hardware keyboard combined with one or more lines of soft keyboard on the display is a very, very good idea and works just perfect.

Furthermore the keyboard is touch enabled, too. So for example you can scroll through a website my swiping over the keyboard and without obscuring the display with your hand. Extremely useful!

Miscellaneous impressions

  • The BlackBerry Passport blinks when it got a new message. I like this subtile way of being notified very much.
  • The battery holds longer than on my iPhone 4S.
  • Streaming music via bluetooth produces more audibility than with the iPhone.
  • It’s a relief to have a bigger display. Reading stuff on the iPhone 4S is very hard compared to the Passport. Since iPhone 6 has a bigger display, too, that’s no general advantage – but to me coming from the 4S, it is.

That’s it so far. The BlackBerry Passport is an excellent communication machine with a lot of advantages and the disadvantage of being forced to use Android apps when there is no appropriate BB 10 app. I will report back after some time.

 


2 thoughts on “My BlackBerry Passport arrived – first impressions

  1. Good overview. When BlackBerry upgraded the OS they included Traveler for all OS 10 devices which is nice. Good tip on the iCloud contacts sync too.

  2. Thanks Julian, precisely the post I was looking for, especially on the native IBM traveler integration. The BB Blend seems also nice.