Blackberry Launches New Phone . . .

Blackberry Launches New Phone . . .

BlackBerry released its new Passport phone today, a keyboard smartphone with a 4.5-inch​ screen aimed at corporate users.

John Chen, charged with turning around Waterloo, Ont.-based BlackBerry since last November, has said the company’s future rests on rebuilding its relations with the enterprise market, long a core of its business.

The Passport is on sale starting today, available only at Telus until Oct 1. Users will pay $200 for the phone on a two-year contract, which jumps to $250 starting Oct. 1.

Customers with Bell and Rogers can pre-order the phone, available for $249 with a two-year plan at Rogers and $299 with a two-year plan at Bell, and have it shipped on Oct 1.

Users who want to buy the phone without a contract will pay $699.

The new smartphone’s hefty design — the size of a passport, or perhaps a suit pocket — has a screen that will show 60 characters across. That means spreadsheets, medical charts and other enterprise-friendly information will be readable.

The Passport specifications:

  • Screen is 1,440 x 1,440 pixels square, with 453 dots per inch, or DPI, resolution.
  • Gorilla glass screen.
  • QWERTY keyboard layout, a comfortable holdover from earlyBlackBerry designs.
  • Extra-loud speakerphone, 350 per cent louder than that of the Samsung Galaxy S5.
  • Device switch app that allows users to import data from other phones
  • Reported 30-hour battery life
  • Includes 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage space
  • 13 megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization
  • Rear camera has f2.0 lens and 1080p HD video recording that can shoot 60 frames per second
  • 2 megapixel front camera with 720p HD video recording

“I have to tell you, I just fell in love with the phone when I came in,” said Chen, who said it was mostly finished before he started with the company.

The phone also features a physical keyboard that doubles as a virtual keyboard — users can swipe the physical keyboard to add words onscreen while typing, or to move around a cursor on the screen.

CBC reporter Matthew Kang, who was at the Toronto launch, described it as a “hybrid of keyboard, mouse and touch screen.”

Representatives from Bloomberg business news were also on hand to announce a Passport-specific app, available at the end of October, that will allows users to see an increased number of stock quotes at once.

Chen also confirmed that the BlackBerry Classic phone will be released by the end of the year, but wouldn’t provide any more detail to reporters.

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