BlackBerry Passport review
An interesting phone, but too expensive to take a punt on

The BlackBerry Passport is a phone that'll receive interest and dismissal in equal measure. It's a strange-looking beast that can't help but draw the eye even though most people probably won't want to use it – too enshrined are they with the 16:9 landscape touchscreen form factor.

BlackBerry Passport review

Back in black

Taking into account what BlackBerry is going for it can be a very useful device. Web pages and documents look good, and for keyboard junkies, the return of physical buttons will really appeal.

There's also the fact that it's got some decent specs on board – including impressive battery life - that'll see it lasting well through a 24-month contract. But at best I feel this makes it the perfect secondary device rather than the all-encompassing primary smartphone every business user must own.

We liked

The battery life is fantastic on the Passport. I used it for a couple of weeks and found that it would easily manage up to a couple of days of fairly heavy usage and still have battery remaining.

Other phones are catching up in the battery department, the Sony Xperia Z3 for example, but BlackBerry's Passport really does throw the gauntlet down in this department.

Aspects of BlackBerry's OS have also really come forward and the BlackBerry Hub, I feel, was very useful in filtering the daily slew of emails, text messages and social media updates I get.

Other parts of the OS aren't quite as exciting – BlackBerry Assistant is good, but doesn't do anything that Siri or Google Now can't. The Hub system though is a real winner.

I'll also say that I liked the keyboard – and the fact it has touch functionality overlaid as well. Now that touchscreen keyboards are so ubiquitous and accurate, it's not as big a feature as BlackBerry tries to make out. There are problems – it's a bit cramped and can reduce speed, but I definitely felt I got used to it after a while and that sensation would only increase.

We disliked

No matter how many full-screen websites and long, convoluted emails the Passports 1:1 4.5-inch screen lovingly displays, I still can't say the form factor is a good one.

Using the Passport one-handed is practically impossible for anything other than scrolling and the placement of the buttons just doesn't make much sense.

It's heavy and awkward to carry around. Despite the best intentions of BlackBerry's representative to persuade me otherwise, this is not a device you can easily stick into your jeans pocket and carry around.

Likewise, when it comes to video and, to a certain extent, gaming, this phone is awful. No-one puts out content in 4:3 anymore, let alone 1:1, so watching anything involves squinting at the screen or blowing it up and losing the edges of the picture.

Given that content providers like Sky, Netflix and Amazon are striving to make it easier for us to access video on-the-go, it's a shame you'll never want to do it on this piece of tech.

Verdict

I'm confident in saying this is the best phone BlackBerry has yet produced, hands down. There's serious processing power, copious amounts of storage, a decent camera, plenty of connectivity, useful software features and an HD screen.

BlackBerry Passport review

BlackBerry's best phone to date

What I'm also confident in saying is that there's no way this is going to supplant a regular smartphone like the HTC One M8, Samsung Galaxy Alpha or iPhone 6 as your main device. At best, it'll be a secondary, work-focused piece of tech that'll be relegated to a specific set of tasks.

BlackBerry has succeeded in doing something different and producing a new device that sums up everything it is as a brand. That is a brilliant thing, and to those that feel this is aimed at them (medical professionals, entrepreneurs, the email-obsessed) then it should be up there as one of the first phones you consider.

But for everyone else, this is unashamedly a productivity-centric machine that'll let you take your work around with you. What it's not is the market's best new smartphone.