Print 40 comment(s) - last by kickoff.. on Jul 9 at 2:33 PM

We're still not totally convinced by BlackBerry's justification for a square screen

BlackBerry really left us all scratching our heads when it revealed the upcoming 4.5” Passport smartphone with its stubby proportions and square display. Although packing in a relatively dense screen with a 1440x1440 resolution, the Passport flies in the face of conventional wisdom considering that 99.9% of smartphones on the market have a rectangular display.
BlackBerry has posted a new blog that tries to explain its reasoning behind going with a square display, and we’re not exactly sold on the merits.
BlackBerry’s Matt Young claims that the overwhelming adoption of rectangular displays has resulted in “limiting innovations” in the smartphone space and that the Passport “[opens] new doors of opportunity.” Young goes on to say that despite its unconventional shape, the Passport offers up the same viewing space as a traditional 5” smartphone.

He goes on to claim:
The optimal number of characters on a line in a book is 66 characters (current rectangular smartphones show approx. 40 characters and BlackBerry will show 60 characters). BlackBerry Passport offers its size and aspect ratio to accommodate these characters, making it the ideal device for reading e-books, viewing documents and browsing the web…
Consider how IMAX screens start with a more traditional 16:9 aspect ratio projection for conventional movie trailers and then expand to their true dimensions (and the audience goes, “ooh”). The Passport is like the IMAX of productivity, and you don’t have to sacrifice screen real estate, vertically or horizontally.
Given the increasingly media-centric focus of today’s smartphones, it’s hard to grasp the wisdom in BlackBerry heading this direction or how the move will bolster its already bleak outlook. However, the company says that it’s aiming the Passport squarely at business professionals and claims that everyone from architects to mortgage brokers to healthcare workers will benefit from the unique capabilities of the Passport (oh yeah, we almost forgot about that QWERTY keyboard).

Source: BlackBerry

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Doesn't Matter
By Flunk on 7/8/2014 9:05:03 AM , Rating: 1
Even if this was the best idea since the introduction of the smart phone (and I'm definitely not saying I think it is) it's still tied down to Blackberry's OS. BB10 is like a heavy anchor pulling down anything attached to it.

RE: Doesn't Matter
By GreenEnvt on 7/8/2014 9:13:51 AM , Rating: 4
It all depends on the user. My wife has an iPad, and has been using various android phones for the last few years.
However she wanted a hardware keyboard so I got her a blackberry Q5 and she loves it. BB10 is very different than android or ios, but for her it's very intuitive.

RE: Doesn't Matter
By Reclaimer77 on 7/8/14, Rating: 0
RE: Doesn't Matter
By inighthawki on 7/8/2014 11:38:57 AM , Rating: 2
I think in general you are correct, and your observation is accurate; however, I think it has more to do with how tech savvy a person is.

Women in generally are far rarer in the tech field, so it's not hard to imagine the scenario where all these peoples' wives are more ordinary folk, unlike you or I who are more tech savvy. I think when you know a good deal about technology and operating systems, certain things tend to stick out or be more obvious issues. We use the technology so much and become accustomed to certain usage patterns or optimal ways of doing things that we can see when one specific detail is suboptimal, or one company's solution is just far better.

And I believe this applies equally as well to tech savvy women, but it's just so much less common. I'm sure you can also think of a number of men you know who have the similar "This works just fine" approach to technology. And then you get baffled and your brain goes into the loop of "How could they possibly ever be satisfied with this experience?"...

like Apple users :)

RE: Doesn't Matter
By kickoff on 7/9/2014 9:41:03 AM , Rating: 3
I don't think it's so much what field they're in...though that does have something to do with it. But in general, girls are just not as into gadgets as guys are.
I have about 25 engineers in one group and was amused to see the other day where a bunch of the guys were gathered around a desk looking at specs on the new LG G3 and "oohing and ahhing". I looked over and three of the female engineers were watching them and laughing with huge grins on their face. I asked them what was so funny and they pointed at their male counterparts and said: "Look at'd think they were looking at porn or something!". LMAO!!!

Both my daughers are EE's and they just don't care that much about the gadgets themselves. They may be engineers, but they are more concerned about the color of the cases they put on them! Well, maybe that's because they're both still "kids" rather than the female factor, but seriously???

RE: Doesn't Matter
By melgross on 7/8/14, Rating: 0
RE: Doesn't Matter
By GreenEnvt on 7/8/2014 12:56:14 PM , Rating: 3
You can believe whatever you like.
I use an LG G2 and wouldn't switch to Blackberry even if they paid me.
However she complained for years she hated onscreen keyboards. No decent android phones offer a front keyboard, and only a couple crappy ones have slide out.

So she asked for a blackberry.

I played with it a bit while getting it setup to sync with her gmail account, and it was interesting, but thats about all the praise I can give currently. I don't like the design philosophy, possibly just because of having prior experience with android. If BB10 had come out a few years ago before I was so used to android, maybe I'd like it better.

RE: Doesn't Matter
By Reclaimer77 on 7/8/14, Rating: -1
RE: Doesn't Matter
By Makaveli on 7/8/2014 10:06:30 AM , Rating: 2
Have you ever used BB10?

RE: Doesn't Matter
By Labotomizer on 7/8/2014 11:22:45 AM , Rating: 2
I tried it for ~10 days. All the gestures kind of sucked to get to anything. I want a button to multi-task on a phone. My thumb doesn't like being stretched to the far left edge of a phone and back repeatedly.

Not all ideas were bad but that ultimately killed it for me.

RE: Doesn't Matter
By inighthawki on 7/8/2014 11:41:07 AM , Rating: 3
Based on the design, especially with the physical keyboard, I'm betting their OS and devices were designed largely for people to hold the device with two hands, which may explain why they had gestures based off the left edge of the screen.

Disclaimer: Pure speculation. I've never even seen or touched a BB10 device.

RE: Doesn't Matter
By Labotomizer on 7/8/2014 12:28:56 PM , Rating: 1
The problem is that basic navigation, such as reading an email, shouldn't require you to need two hands. It defeats the purpose of a small device. I don't even think a tablet should require 2 hands for consuming content or basic navigation.

RE: Doesn't Matter
By Motoman on 7/8/2014 10:59:31 AM , Rating: 5
If it makes and receives calls, texts, and browses the web, then it suits the needs of probably 99% of all possible users in the world.

RE: Doesn't Matter
By retrospooty on 7/8/2014 11:51:31 AM , Rating: 2
I would disagree on 99%, maybe more like 90%, but your point is taken. But it's not just about meeting the minimum needs, its about sales, and appealing to people that would be customers.

So the question is, would you buy it?

RE: Doesn't Matter
By Argon18 on 7/8/2014 4:43:36 PM , Rating: 2
"If it makes and receives calls, texts, and browses the web, then it suits the needs of probably 99% of all possible users in the world."

Nope. You could say the same thing about just about any consumer product. If it gets you from point A to point B, then a car meets 99% of the world's needs. If that were true however, we'd all be driving Yugo's. It's more than about meeting basic needs. Hence the reason why companies like BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, etc. are so profitable.

BB10 is marketed as a premium level smart phone. Not an basic feature phone. A premium smart phone is expected to have an App ecosystem and a mature intuitive interface. If the Apps are absent or the App Store sucks, it will fail. If the interface is not smooth and intuitive, it will fail. If a premium priced phone looks or feels cheap, it will fail.

RE: Doesn't Matter
By Argon18 on 7/8/2014 3:01:04 PM , Rating: 3
"Even if this was the best idea since the introduction of the smart phone (and I'm definitely not saying I think it is) it's still tied down to Blackberry's OS. BB10 is like a heavy anchor pulling down anything attached to it."

The same can be said for the Microsoft phones. Nobody wants a wonky one-off Microsoft OS on their phone, no matter what hardware is behind it. Doesn't stop them from trying though.

RE: Doesn't Matter
By nikon133 on 7/8/2014 6:18:20 PM , Rating: 1
A lot of nobodys in Europe, South Africa and some other parts of the world will disagree with you. Me included.

After 4 years on iPhones, I found iOS stale for me. Wanted to try something different, went for WP8. Loved it, stayed with it.

iPhone/iOS were magnificent when I moved to that platform, back in 2009. Android was still on 1.5, I think 1.6 was just released but not available in NZ. After using BB Pearl and some Nokia Symbians back in the days, I got sold on iPhone when my friend showed me his.

But awe didn't hold for long. I got 3Gs on release, 32GB, free of contract, for about NZ$1300. Top of the crop, right? It turned out phone's reception is way below much cheaper phones - I had spots in local shopping centre where my phone, on same Vodafone network, would show no signal while cheap Nokia was working just fine. My wife's 3GS and my friends one were acting the same; they were all from different batches, and unless what we had was incredible coincidence, 3Gs simply had poor radio or antenna design. In addition, ceramic-looking phone back turned out really easy to crack. My wife's power button cap felt off. Hmm...

It was still pleasant device to use, especially with iOS4. Not as much as phone, but as PDA/music player. Much as I am concerned, Apple should have stopped pushing updates after iOS5 (which felt a bit slower but was still OK). iOS6 was completely wasted on this phone, most new features were disabled anyway, and phone would occasionaly slow down to crawl even in basic tasks like texting. I laughed bitterly when Apple's Phill bragged about advantage of Apple's iOS updates going further than with Android handsets - for me, it was disadvantage, and no easy way to fall back to iOS5.

I had 4s at work, hated design. It was too edgy to hold comfortably, quite heavy as well. Easy-crack plastic on back replaced with easy-cracked glass. At least it was OK with how people hold it... but for me, magic was way lost.

WP8 works fine for me. I was lucky of having all the apps I need available, so no iPhone disappointments yet.

It makes sense, so we have to kill it
By anothermax2 on 7/8/2014 10:11:33 AM , Rating: 2
If you need a keyboard, you are committed to two handed use. If you are committed to two handed use, why not go wider? Why limit yourself to a ratio designed for 1 handed use? If you buy a big (5") 16:9 phone you complain about how hard it is to use 1 handed anyway!

So commit to two handed use, and you get a screen that is twice as big as a 16:9 ratio 5 incher! And no onscreen keyboard either.

I'll definitely take a look to replace my aging 4.5" (16:9) s2x.

By kamk44 on 7/8/2014 11:20:10 AM , Rating: 2
I you want one of these then what makes sense is to wait a while for the deep discounts. Shouldn't take too long.

RE: It makes sense, so we have to kill it
By Reclaimer77 on 7/8/14, Rating: 0
By acer905 on 7/8/2014 12:07:21 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, width has always been the killer dimension to me. I laughed at people with the original RAZR because it looked absurdly wide just so they could make it a tiny bit thinner. I'll stick to a taller, even thicker device please. If anything the extra height helps the phone reach from your ear to your mouth...

RE: It makes sense, so we have to kill it
By melgross on 7/8/2014 12:51:57 PM , Rating: 2
The screen doesn't have that much more real estate. But the form of the phone is very clumsy. You can't tell which side is up when it's in your pocket, so when you take it out, you're going to fumble with it for a while.

And it's going to be very hard to hold up to your ear.

Look, BB10 phones have been a total disaster. Even now, with their phone sales falling off the cliff, BB7 sales are still killing their BB10 sales. That's because they're not getting many new users, but rather, the dwindling number of users they have are mainly just upgrading to the same OS so they can keep using the same apps and info in the way they have before.

It's pretty obvious that someone in Blackberry, whether it was Chen, or someone else, said in some gloomy meeting, that (s)he looked at all the phones in the market, and they all had the same look. Then someone else came up with the bright idea of mentioning that no one made a square phone, and wouldn't it be cool if they did, because it would be so different that people would flock to it. Then they all became excited over this and came up with reasons why it would be a great idea. After all, nothing else has helped.

But there's a good reason why phones have always been non square, going back many decades to well before cell phones were ever thought of, and that reason is comfort, something this phone won't offer.

I see this as going nowhere, just like all of their phones the past several years.

By Argon18 on 7/8/2014 4:29:56 PM , Rating: 2
"Look, BB10 phones have been a total disaster. Even now, with their phone sales falling off the cliff, BB7 sales are still killing their BB10 sales. That's because they're not getting many new users, but rather, the dwindling number of users they have are mainly just upgrading to the same OS so they can keep using the same apps and info in the way they have before."

This is very true. My work BB is the older BB7, I tried the BB10 and said "no thanks". So did all my co-workers. The ones who switched now regret it. BB10 is clunky and unrefined and totally breaks the traditional BB workflow.

Finally something for my square pocket clothing!
By Azethoth on 7/8/2014 5:04:06 AM , Rating: 5
Down with the tyranny of rectangular pocket gadgets! I want the freedom to choose to be square!

By marvdmartian on 7/8/2014 7:21:01 AM , Rating: 3
See, this phone would have been perfect, 30 years ago, for any of the US Navy (lower) enlisted ranks, who wore dungaree trousers!

You sure wouldn't fit a regular smart phone in those square pockets!

Blackberry has officially "jumped the shark"
By kickoff on 7/9/2014 9:44:13 AM , Rating: 2
Wow. I have never liked blackberry, even back in the days when it was the only game in town and all the "cool business guys" had one. And my opinion of them has only gone down in the years since as I've watched them languish while Smartphones grew.

Now...I just feel sorry for them. Shut the doors already and get it over with. Their new logo should be The Fonz with an orange life preserver over his leather jacket.

By stoogenadoot on 7/9/2014 12:04:01 PM , Rating: 2
It is kind of painful to watch.

By kickoff on 7/9/2014 2:33:13 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it was like watching Brazil in that semi-final against Germany yesterday. A slow motion train-wreck where you just can't turn away yet you can't bear to watch it either.

So you just cringe in horror.

By BRB29 on 7/8/2014 7:07:54 AM , Rating: 3
Yes BB but professionals want their phones to properly slide into their pockets without bulging. It would be quite weird to have a square thing bulging out of your pants.

But all the professionals I've seen who have to view documents just plain prefer an ipad, surface tablet or laptop(macbooks increasingly much more popular). No point in trying to do stuff with a 4.5" when you can do it with 8+ inches. Sure, it's bigger than a phone but you don't have to pull it out until you need to view a doc.

RE: Haha
By kamk44 on 7/8/2014 11:12:05 AM , Rating: 2
That's what I was thinking. Does BB know tablets exist? Sure there are a few who might like this but doubt it would be enough to make a profit on it. And how long until those corners poke holes in your pockets?

Shape makes sense
By atechfan on 7/8/2014 7:20:03 AM , Rating: 3
It is actually a good compromise on a device that will not be rotated due to the keyboard. Problem is, the keyboard looks to be several steps back from traditional Blackberry keyboards. They could have used the extra room to improve their keyboard, but they inexplicably made it worse.

RE: Shape makes sense
By retrospooty on 7/8/2014 8:25:39 AM , Rating: 2
This isn't surprising. RIMM/Blackberry hasn't done anything in the past 5+ years that made sense. Not that specifically a square screen doesn't make sense, its just that this whole product doesn't make sense. Not now when they really need to sell phones. This is a niche product for sure, they need a mass appeal product.

By Gunbuster on 7/8/2014 10:24:44 AM , Rating: 2
Ah, the throwing shit at the wall, hoping something sticks strategy. Keep trying BB

RE: Desperation
By retrospooty on 7/8/2014 10:42:27 AM , Rating: 2
LOL. Well, all of our good ideas aren't working, so lets try some of the bad ones.

They would be far better served throwing their current lineup and pipeline at the wall and making a phone that people would actually want.

By piroroadkill on 7/8/2014 5:54:56 AM , Rating: 3
The IMAX of phones.

Are you kidding me? Yeah, a 4.5" awkwardly shaped phone is totally like the largest, highest fidelity cinema screens in the world, on what is likely the most expensive film stock available.

By ie5x on 7/8/2014 6:41:31 AM , Rating: 2
And I was wondering that they stuck with the square layout because it has a hardware keyboard which is useless when the device is in landscape mode... A square screen makes changing the orientation a moot point.

I hope this elite mambo-jumbo of un-limiting innovation makes their buyers sleep peacefully.

Commiting to two handed use
By HardwareDufus on 7/8/2014 12:49:04 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but if I commit to two handed cel phone use, how will I drive my car while I'm posting selfies on instagram?

I don't understand
By flyingpants1 on 7/8/2014 6:10:03 PM , Rating: 2
I don't understand what's going on over there. Isn't it time for a Z10 refresh or something?

BB10 user
By PacFu on 7/9/2014 7:25:09 AM , Rating: 2
I have been using Blackberry for quite some time. I have a BB10 Z10. I have used Android as well as iPhone. For my use, BB10 is the best experience. I'm a communication guy, not an app guy. So for me the app infrastructure is irrelevant. Though with the new 10.2.1+ OS update, I can load Android apps on the phone, so the option is there if I need it.

All that said, I'm still not sold on a square device. The keyboard is capacitive touch and will change depending on what you are doing. Will also double as a trackpad. The keyboard is the only thing that will push me over the edge to buy it, but need to see it in action first. Also if it doesn't have a removable battery, deal breaker.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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