Is the BlackBerry Passport Right for Enterprise Employees?

Is the BlackBerry Passport Right for Enterprise Employees?
Passport Design Stands Out
Remarkable Battery Life
Getting Used to the Square Display
More Than Adequate Data Storage Capacity
Surprisingly Powerful Handset
App Support Is Strong, Thanks to Android
Remember All the BlackBerry Add-Ons
BlackBerry Blend Is a Valuable Addition
Are You BlackBerry-Reliant?
A Reasonable Price for the Value
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Is the BlackBerry Passport Right for Enterprise Employees?

By Don Reisinger

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Passport Design Stands Out

The BlackBerry Passport comes with an unusual design, if nothing else. The device has a 4.5-inch square touch display with a 1,440-by-1,440 resolution. Underneath the screen is the company's familiar physical QWERTY keyboard. BlackBerry is offering the device in black, white and red, and a rounded-corner version is available exclusively to AT&T owners. It should be interesting to see how the unique design appeals to potential customers.

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Remarkable Battery Life

BlackBerry has done an outstanding job delivering enough battery life to do just about anything on the Passport. The smartphone comes with up to 14 hours of GSM talk time and can remain in standby mode for 14.5 days. Employees who want to make calls over UMTS (the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) will find that it can handle 24 hours of talk time. One caveat, however, is that unlike many other BlackBerry handsets, the Passport's battery is not removable.

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Getting Used to the Square Display

BlackBerry Passport users will need to get accustomed to some nuances to the square display. For one thing, the square design, which is about the size of an actual travel passport, may initially seem unorthodox, making it feel and look boxy in the hand, pocket or purse. In addition, since most apps are designed for a standard screen dimension, there could be some issues with viewing applications content. But users can adjust to the unusual dimensions if they like all the other BlackBerry features.

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More Than Adequate Data Storage Capacity

Like most other smartphone makers, BlackBerry has decided to stick with one storage option with the Passport. In this case, it's 32GB with a microSD memory card to boost storage for those who want it. Still, for most enterprise users who are turning to cloud services for storage and other needs, the 32GB of on-board storage should be sufficient.

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Surprisingly Powerful Handset

To its credit, BlackBerry has built a powerful little device in the Passport. The device comes with a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, as well as the Adreno 330 GPU. The Passport's 3GB of on-board RAM should help handle resource-intensive apps. Overall, the Passport should do just fine handling the power needs of users.

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App Support Is Strong, Thanks to Android

BlackBerry has some solid app support in its own right, but the operating system running on the device, BlackBerry 10, also comes with access to the Amazon Appstore—which allows users to run not only BlackBerry-specific apps, that tend to be a bit more enterprise-focused, but also Android apps. That's a major selling point for companies looking for the right apps to keep employees working productively.

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Remember All the BlackBerry Add-Ons

BlackBerry Passport's integration of BlackBerry 10 means that the device comes with full support for BlackBerry's wide range of applications, including BlackBerry Messenger and BlackBerry Enterprise Server—two favorites among enterprise customers. While BlackBerry has gone platform-agnostic with those platforms, meaning iOS and Android users can also access them, the Passport takes advantage of seamless integration with BlackBerry 10 that tends to work quite well.

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BlackBerry Blend Is a Valuable Addition

BlackBerry Passport comes with full support for the company's Blend platform. BlackBerry Blend is desktop software that allows users to automatically synchronize content from their Passport to their desktop. The feature is a critical tool for corporate customers that want data synchronized across devices for proper backing up. But again, it's a feature found on iOS and Android, which does limit its appeal when comparing the Passport to an iPhone or Galaxy handset.

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Are You BlackBerry-Reliant?

One of the most important questions to ask before choosing a Passport or a competing device is how reliant your company is on BlackBerry services, and how likely it will be to remain so in the coming years. Many companies are moving away from BlackBerry services to alternative solutions from Apple, Good Technology, Samsung and others. But for those that are sticking with BlackBerry, having the easy integration with software running on the Passport could be a selling point.

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A Reasonable Price for the Value

Overall, the BlackBerry Passport provides a solid value for the price. The device is available for $200 with a two-year contract at AT&T. Customers who want to go with the company's "Next 24" package will pay $22 per month. An off-contract price on the Passport is $650. Years ago, while the iPhone was on sale for a starting price of $200, BlackBerry devices would be far more expensive. Now, they've come down to Earth and turned into affordable options.

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