Passport is first smartphone released by Canadian manufacturer in more than a year, running the new BB10.3 operating system
BlackBerry has today unveiled its first handset in more than a year with the BlackBerry Passport.
The new handset, the first since the Z30 in October last year (UK) was unveiled as part of a global launch event held in London’s plush Hyatt Regency Hotel this afternoon (September 24).
It comes preloaded with the latest update of its operating system – BlackBerry 10.3, an update to BB10 which first launched on the Z10 and Q10 handsets when they were first unveiled in January 2013.
The Passport is powered by a quad-core 2.2GHz processor and has a 4.5-inch square touchscreen made from toughened Corning Gorilla Glass, as well as a three-row QWERTY touch-enabled keyboard.
BlackBerry said the square screen will make tasks like reading and writing emails, reviewing and editing documents, web browsing and map navigation more comfortable and effortless.
It has a 13 megapixel rear camera, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal memory that can be expanded by 128GB with a microSD, a quad microphone system and 3,450 mAh battery. BlackBerry claimed that it is the largest battery among the top selling smartphones and phablets, and when tested against “a very active user”, provides up to 30 minutes of mixed use and is its best battery power to date.
The new OS update sees voice-controlled personal assistant BlackBerry Assistant make its debut, which the company said can be used to help users manage work and personal email, contacts, calendar and other native BlackBerry 10 applications. Users will also have access to the Amazon Appstore.
Also making its debut is BlackBerry Blend, an app that enables users to securely access content from their BlackBerry smartphone on their tablet or PC. Users can receive notifications, respond to work and personal messages, and access documents, calendars, contacts and media on any device, regardless of the operating system.
It works across desktop operating systems including Mac OS X 10.7+, iPad tablets running iOS 7+, Windows 7+ and Android tablets running Android 4.4+. The downloadable version of Blend for Macs, and PCs is available at www.BlackBerry.com/Blend, on the Apple App Store for tablets, or via the Google Play Store for Android tablets.
The BlackBerry Passport is now on sale at Selfridges in the UK and will be available at Carphone Warehouse from Friday.
It is now also available through www.shopblackberry.com for customers in the UK, Canada, France, Germany and the US, costing £529 SIM-free, The device will be on sale in 39 countries before the end of the year.
BlackBerry chairman and CEO John Chen said: “As we set out to design BlackBerry Passport, we were guided by a simple yet challenging idea – to set aside the limitations of traditional design and to instead simply build a device that fundamentally changes the way business professionals get work done on their smartphone.
“The BlackBerry Passport was created to drive productivity and to break through the sea of rectangular-screen, all-touch devices.”
The Passport was originally unveiled by Chen during its quarterly earnings call back in June this year, although no specifications were discussed.