John Chen, BlackBerry CEO, showed off the Canadian firm’s latest device targeting the mobile professional user – dubbed Passport – which he sees as a vital step in turning the company’s fortunes around.
“Our focus is on productivity, security, collaboration and communication, and there is nothing more important than Passport to encapsulate those four attributes,” he said.
The Toronto launch also saw former ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky take to the stage and sing the praises of Passport (pictured). Chen described Gretzky as a Canadian national hero (underlining his desire for Blackberry to win back the confidence of its home market).
Shaped the size of a standard passport the device sports a 4.5-inch square screen and a 1440×1440 HD pixel display. Gorilla Glass is used for extra strength. There’s also an innovative QWERTY touch keypad that can also act as a trackpad and scroll down pages.
Passport uses the latest BlackBerry OS – 10.3 – which helps support new and more advanced features such as the Blackberry Assistance that can be used with voice and text commands to help users manage work and personal email, contacts, calendar and other native BlackBerry 10 applications.
The new device runs on a 2.2GHz quadcore processor. It’s the first time the Canadian firm has used a quadcore processor in one of its devices.
One of the most impressive features is the 30 hour battery life (based on an active user’s profile), gleaned from the 3450mAh battery. BlackBerry claims the battery performance beats all other manufacturers of smartphones and tablets.
Ian Fogg, an IHS analyst, is impressed: “It’s rare now for any smartphone to have a true new iconic form factor, but BlackBerry Passport has just such an iconic innovative design,” he said in an email to Mobile World Live.
“Other handset makers have abandoned QWERTY-keyboard smartphones. As a result, BlackBerry’s smartphones now have a strongly differentiated design, in a market where every other smartphone maker is struggling to stand out,” Fogg added.
Chen said that BlackBerry will launch four new smartphones this year, including Z3 (already available) and a ‘prestige’ Porsche Design. BlackBerry Classic, said Chen, will be available before the year is out.
On Friday (26 September) BlackBerry announces its latest financial results. Chen said they would show the company is “making good progress and managing cash well”. Restructuring, he said, was now behind the Canadian firm.