A Passport to success for BlackBerry?

BlackBerry chief executive John Chen holds up the unreleased Blackberry Passport device during the...

BlackBerry chief executive John Chen holds up the unreleased Blackberry Passport device during the company's annual general meeting for shareholders in Waterloo, Ont., June 19, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

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, Last Updated: 6:25 PM ET

BlackBerry has sent out invites to three simultaneous events to be held in London, Toronto and Dubai on Sept. 24 where it is expected to unveil the Passport, potentially its most innovative smartphone in the best part of a decade.

What makes it special is that BlackBerry has decided that the rectangular screen that is a standard feature on essentially all smartphones made by everyone from Apple to Samsung and beyond is actually a bad idea. It limits productivity and forces you to keep rotating a handset from portrait to landscape in order to accommodate different content

According to BlackBerry, academic research shows that the optimal number of characters on a line in a book is 66 characters. Because rectangular smartphones lack screen width, they can only manage 40 characters.

However, because the Passport has a perfectly square 4.5-inch high-definition display, it can display 60 characters per line, making it great not just for reading e-books but for using spreadsheets and Instagram, and all without having to rotate the handset in order to fit elements on the screen.

As well as a square screen, the Passport has a physical keyboard so that the user's fingers don't obscure the display. But as well as being good for typing emails and messages, the keyboard is touch-sensitive, meaning that it can respond to swipes and taps too. So it becomes like a trackpad on a notebook allowing you to navigate around the screen without touching it.

Although the phone isn't going to be officially revealed until the special September event, BlackBerry has been very open about the device and has been publishing new snippets of information about its capabilities over the past two months.

So as well as screen size and resolution, we know it is going to have a best-in-class battery life and offer sufficient security for use in finance and health care. In fact, all that still isn't clear about the device is when exactly it will be in the shops and how much it will cost. Expect that to be revealed, along with the device, on Sept. 24. 

As such September is going to be a very busy month for premium smartphone launches. Sony, Samsung, Motorola and, of course, Apple will all be announcing new flagship handsets in the coming days. 


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