A blast from the past hit the stores today, hoping to carve a niche out for itself in the ever competitive mobile marketplace. The BlackBerry Passport was officially released today, with the once powerful manufacturer hoping to re-establish its position in the mobile world.
Of course, the landscape has changed greatly since BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) was a big name in Mobile. Only days ago the iPhone 6 was launched, and the Passport is up against massive selling devices such as this. Therefore, creating a splash and consumer buzz will be a big challenge for BlackBerry.
However, the smartphone veteran still has its followers and fans, and there are a significant number of people extremely keen to get their hands on the Passport, which is considered by analysts to be the most impressive smartphone that BlackBerry has ever produced. And the company was never criticised for the quality of its devices, far from it, so this launch actually has the potential to gain a little traction.
Given the importance of the iPhone in the contemporary mobile marketplace, it seems natural to compare the BlackBerry Passport with the iPhone 6. Apple and BlackBerry have something else in common, aside from being named after fruit, both companies produce and control both the hardware and software included in their mobile products, which ensures that both companies can optimize their handsets to achieve peak performance. Thus, the Passport shouldn’t be dismissed lightly, so let’s take a look at its capabilities versus the iPhone 6.
BlackBerry Passport vs iPhone 6: Display
It seems valid to compare the BlackBerry Passport with the smaller iPhone 6 device, given the fact that the Passport’s display is slightly smaller than the iPhone 6, and doesn’t really compare in size to the screen included in the iPhone 6 Plus. The BlackBerry Passport has a 4.5-inch display, whereas the iPhone 6 screen is 4.7-inches.
But BlackBerry has ensured that it has armed the Passport with a very high quality display. Its pixel quotient is significantly higher than that of the iPhone, with the BlackBerry device able to deal with 1,440 x 1,440 pixels. The iPhone 6 resolution is significantly smaller than this, at 750 x 1,334 pixels. Additionally, pixel density is ~453 ppi in the BlackBerry Passport and only ~326 ppi in the iPhone 6.
So it can be said with some certainty that the BlackBerry Passport should be very competitive in this department.
Size and Weight
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has really excelled here, and the BlackBerry Passport feels significantly bulkier and heftier than the iPhone 6. The BlackBerry Passport is nearly 50 percent bulkier and heavier than the Apple handset, but though it is not so large as to be unwieldy, it really doesn’t quite match up to the slim feel of Apple’s iPhone series. For the record, the BlackBerry Passport’s measurements are 128 x 90.3 x 9.3 mm (5.04 x 3.56 x 0.37 in), as opposed to 138.1 x 67 x 6.9 mm (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27 in) off the iPhone 6, while the former weighs 194 g, as opposed to the mere 129 g of the iPhone 6.
Memory and Storage
The Passport is well served in the memory department, with BlackBerry having included 3 GB of RAM in the handset. This is in fact three times iPhone 6’s memory, which has been fitted with just 1 GB of RAM by comparison. However, Apple has ensured that storafe will never be an issue on the iPhone 6, releasing a 128 GB version of the phone. The internal memory of the BlackBerry Passport can be boosted up to 64 GB, but this requires micro-SD, otherwise it is capable of 32 GB of internal storage.
Processor and Chipset
In terms of processor, BlackBerry has certainly picked a strong one to be the core of its Passport smartphone. The BlackBerry Passport will run off a Qualcomm MSM8974AA Snapdragon 800, quad-core CPU which is clocked at 2.26 GHz. The Apple iPhone 6 is based around dual-core 1.4 GHz Cyclone technology, but it’s unique A8 chipset insures that it is an extremely strong performer. But the Passport is very capable in this department, and compares reasonably with most smartphones on the market.
BlackBerry devices are perhaps not particularly associated with their cameras, but the Passport comes armed with a pretty decent one anyway. The Passport has a camera with a 13-megapixel lens, which also embraces autofocus and optical image stabilization. The quality of optical image stabilization in the iPhone 6 has been particularly praised, and this is something that Apple evidently focused on. The fact that it has an 8-megapixel camera makes the BlackBerry look the superior device in this department, but Apple’s camera functionality has won plaudits in recent times, so this comparison can be considered somewhat misleading.
The most obvious element which makes the BlackBerry unique is its qwerty keyboard setup. It still has multi-touch screen functionality, but the keyboard is considered an attractive feature by many BlackBerry fans. Already reviews of the touch-sensitive keyboard functionality for the Passport have indicated that it is absolutely outstanding, so this can be a real selling point for the device. BlackBery has also provided a list of unique features related to the keyboard and these outline the fact that the Passport will be the best handset on the market for people who want to send complicated text-based documents via a smartphone.
The BlackBerry Assistant is also intended to be a competitor to Apple’s renowned Siri system. This is a voice-activated program which ultimately makes the Passport easier to use. A lot of effort has gone into ensuring that all of the features in the BlackBery Passport are available hands-free, and this functionality does seem to work extremely well.
BlackBerry’s Passport can be viewed as perhaps a more serious device than the iPhone 6, and to some degree one that is chasing a different niche. But with its excellent hardware specs, unique keyboard setup, and highly praised feature set, it would be a shame if it doesn’t at least find an appreciative audience.